Group D of ESL Pro League S18 will be the last one to be played before the playoffs. The first three groups were full of hyped matches and surprising outcomes, and this one is expected to be the same.
This isn’t the toughest group of the four, but it’s not the easiest either. With teams like Cloud9, 9INE, Virtus.pro, Team Liquid, and G2 Esports competing for the top four spots, the battle for qualification is certainly not determined from the start.
In group C, everyone knew that Natus Vincere, FaZe Clan, and Fnatic would qualify. In group D, we can be pretty confident about Cloud9, G2, and Virtus.pro. The remaining teams will need to play their best CS if they want to advance to the playoffs.
Four more teams locked in for the #ESLProLeague Season 18 playoffs, Four more to go👀@natusvincere won Group C and are headed directly to the playoffs RO8! @FaZeClan, @FNATIC and @9zTeam join them in the earlier rounds of the playoff bracket ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/LiPWzAUpg7
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) September 18, 2023
Group D participants
Here are the eight teams that will compete in group D of ESL Pro League S18:
- Eternal Fire
- Team Liquid
- Lynn Vision
- G2 Esports
There are only two teams on this list that are very unlikely to qualify: Eternal Fire and Lynn Vision. But even those two teams might turn into dark horses. To be fair, we don’t know enough about the Turkish and the Chinese lineups to give a definitive answer to the question: will they qualify? But at this competitive level, they are underdogs.
The first few matches will tell us all we need to know about them because their opponents will be world-class teams. If they can beat the likes of Cloud9 and G2, they are much stronger than the statistics suggest. Until proven contrary, we need to put these teams where they belong.
At the other end of the spectrum we have teams like G2, and C9, whose rosters are full of formidable individuals. In G2’s case, Nikola “NiKo” Kovac and Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov are in excellent shape right now, so they’re expected to carry G2 to victory in this group.
For C9, the former Natus Vincere duo, made up of Perfecto and electroNic, should have perfect synergy with sh1ro and Ax1Le, who are also from Russia. With the exception of HObbit, this entire team consists of Russian players, including the coach. Given sh1ro’s results in 2022, it’s hard to imagine C9 placing lower than 3rd in this group.
The biggest unknowns are Complexity, Team Liquid, and 9INE. All three teams have great potential but little is known about their current strength.