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Fabio | 28. September 2020

EPL EU Playoffs Preview: Who Will Make It to the Grand Finals?

The Counter-Strike landscape has shifted in recent months. As the competition has switched to online play, some times have stepped forward and others have descended in the rankings. At the ESL Pro League Playoffs, some of these teams will meet and finally decide on who wears the European crown for now.

ARE ASTRALIS BACK?

The Danes have had to take quite a beating after the temporary removal of Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander and Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth. But even before that, their form had been somewhat shaky and their offline results were lackluster. In Patrick “es3tag” Hansen, the players have found a suitable addition to the roster, but he hadn’t really had a lot of experience on this level so far. Until now.

es3tag with zonic

The stats go to show that es3tag can definitely keep up at this level of play. After the regular season of EPL he now boasts the highest event rating amongst the Danes and has proven himself as a core component of their game plan. The results also speak for themselves, after all they’re in first place of EPL EU Group B with just one close loss. But this uncovers another important detail: Without gla1ve, the team cannot perform. So if we’re to believe that – as Danny “zonic” Sørensen has announced – all the Astralis players will be in and out of rotation at some point, then they need to mold another player into a capable IGL.

But since they’re entering the EPL playoffs with the roster that they already featured during the regular season, their chances are great. Their opponent from before, Complexity, has just suffered a fatal blow.

COMPLEXITY WITHOUT OBO

The youngster has just left for North America again. This is totally understandable. As a 17-year-old, to be stranded on a foreign continent for 9 months is just not something that Owen “oBo” Schlatter envisioned when he joined Complexity. He’s worked hard and has worked through a lot, so there’s no shame in returning back to his homeland. But his team has now been dealt a lot of damage, losing one of their star players.

Niels Christian “NaToSaphiX” Sillassen is a capable stand-in and has already proven that under mousesports at the end of last year. At cs_summit 5, he won the Grand Finals in 2-1 fashion as an emergency replacement for mouz. But does he really pack the talent for a face-off with Astralis and the other teams? More importantly, can the team hastily lay down enough structures neccessary for such a performance? After all, teams like Astralis and Natus Vincere can’t be beaten by kills alone.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM TEAM SPIRIT?

At the start of the season, they were regarded as one of the weakest teams in the league. Now they’re in the playoffs, while Vitality, FaZe, fnatic, and OG are not. With some impressive upset victories, Spirit overtook quite a lot of top teams and now they’re up versus BIG in the playoffs. The Germans were quite shaky during the season and could only retain their second place with a few narrow 16-14 wins. So their recent success is built on rocky foundations. Spirit are thus in prime position to take yet another upset victory home.

WHO WILL MAKE IT TO THE GRAND FINALS

Astralis will surely dispatch of Heroic with ease. Heroic are too inconsistent right now and gla1ve is in perfect form. We can expect him to confidently lead Astralis through this Danish derby. No other playoffs team seems to be able to play to their level – apart from Natus Vincere.

The Russians have delivered a similarly dominant season and can look back at some strong victories. Only their surprise defeat to ENCE somewhat disturbs this picture, but that was in the early days of this EPL season and would likely not repeat itself today. They’re once again going up against mousesports, a team they’ve been able to beat in their ESL One Cologne opening match already. During EPL, mousesports put up a better show courtesy of Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras. In the DreamHack Open Fall Qualifier, however, the team fell to Endpoint twice. Does this British roster strike a particular nerve with them or are mouz really that inconsistent?

Overall, the two group winners, NaVi and Astralis, look poised to make it to the Upper Bracket Finals. But there, only one side can win and carry a map advantage over to the Grand Finals. So the winner of that engagement will likely take the EPL trophy home as well.