Identifying the best team is for pussies. Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to guess who’s going to be heartbroken at the end of it all, barely missing out on the playoffs and the glory? Right. The top three advances from each six-team group – so let’s look at who’s going to come fourth!
Five of the six teams in this group have done very well in the online era, with radically different trajectories coming into 2021. Four of them ended up making roster changes with varying success, leaving us with a lot of unknowns to consider for the group.
oh, and there’s also
None of the teams here had a particularly good time in Katowice (hell, two of them didn’t even make it there), which means we have to go a bit further back for meaningful signs of life. Now BIG and Complexity are the clear standouts here due to impressive recent showings at BLAST Premier, winning their respective groups. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s tough to imagine a Renegades side with its -100 dexterity penalty making waves, which leaves us with just three contenders to consider for fourth place.
Each of them have a recent roster move to chew through: FPX brought in suNny for chrisJ who they couldn’t come to an agreement despite a string of strong performances, OG pulled a Vitality and benched NBK-, while Heroic went for double trouble by bringing in refresh and sjuush for niko and b0RUP. In this case, perhaps it’s a good rule of thumb to consider how tactical each team is – the more they rely on brains rather than brawn, it’s likely the longer it takes to integrate new talent. With this, OG in fourth place seems like a decent shot, especially considering they still haven’t confirmed their fifth player a few days out: just the usual sort of what-could-have-been result for the squad.
This bunch features some of the nuttiest individuals ever to wield a virtual rifle, promising explosive matches throughout the group. Just consider the talents of
and let’s not forget
So many of these squads are a work in progress that it’s tough to establish a hierarchy going into the event. Working from the bottom up, ENCE and mouz clearly seem a class below the rest, and though my head says NiP lack the firepower to compete with the top three even though ztr was revelation at his debut event, I’ll choose my heart and say G2 will come fourth just because it would be absolutely hilarious.
This is exactly the sort of group which would have elicited little more than a yawn a year ago, but now it’s a lot more exciting to drink the mixture of
and the other team emerging from the catacombs of ESEA S35,
So who’s coming fourth here? Na’Vi, Gambit and FURIA are clearly a cut above the rest, and with two of the remaining three a completely unproven roster at this stage, Cloud9 seem like the perfect fit for another entertaining elimination.
If you’re going to consider the groups based on team prestige, this is the one to watch. It features five teams you could reasonably expect to be a playoff contender at a different event, which makes it a nasty bracket to play in. You’ve got
…and... hang on… *checks notes*
Funnily enough, the fact that two out of the three CIS squads are stuck over in Group C may actually make it easier for some of these sides to make it to the playoffs on their current form. It’s tough to envision Astralis and VP missing out on the top spots and Endpoint are the obvious candidates for the bottom, so what about the other three? Again, they’re all nursing recent wounds from roster changes that clearly haven’t healed yet, but if you squint hard enough, Fnatic seem like the ones who could almost make it off the back of a nutty win which they ultimately waste away by failing to convert gimmies elsewhere. Beat Astralis, lose to Endpoint? Sounds about right to me.
The way the Pro League schedule works means we’ll have to wait three weeks to see whether these incredibly precise and scientific forecasts will work out, but even if I go 0/6 on this one, I’m much more confident in predicting this: based on the group compositions, there are going to be tons of interesting storylines coming out of this stage.
Photo credit: HLTV