EPICENTER is upon us and the $500,000 tournament in Moscow, Russia will surely provide exciting and interesting matchups from start to finish.
Natus Vincere were worthy champions at ESL New York and will try to rediscover the success they found within Group A. This group is theirs to lose at this point, as they are joined by Dignitas, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and G2 eSports. Dignitas have long been a latent threat, but still seem to be just below the cusp of a top team like Na’Vi.
NiP have had a great run with Mikail “Maikelele” Bill filling in for Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, and in reality should prove to be the toughest test Na’Vi will see until the playoff stages of the event. NiP’s Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg has been stepping up his level of play as of late, his versatility as a player who is steady with both rifles and AWPs has been front and centre. NiP will need every bit of juice that f0rest can provide, as well as another solid showing from their stand-in should they wish to see success.
G2 eSports have unfortunately fallen into a dark slump, with an extraordinarily early exit at ESL New York being the culmination of their shortcomings. Many could have never predicted that this team would be the first to be eliminated at ESL, falling to Astralis, Liquid, and most surprisingly OpTic Gaming.
G2 eSports have the new Team Envyus lineup hot on their heels and need a solid performance at EPICENTER to stand at chance of holding onto the crown they’ve earned in the past months.
Group B seems to be the more fortuitous of the two, containing SK Gaming and Virtus Pro: two teams that are currently both making great cases to be considered the world’s top team. On paper, that spot still belongs to the Brazilian side, SK – yet Virtus Pro’s long standing lineup always seems to find themselves in the mix towards the later parts of every tournament they partake in. As such, seeing VP edge SK out of the top spot of this group wouldn’t entirely be a surprise by any means.
The final two teams rounding out the EPICENTER roster are Fnatic and Hellraisers. Both of these lineups have been through roster changes recently (although this seems to be a part of Hellraisers’ daily routine at this point), and as such cannot be expected to perform at the level of SK Gaming or Virtus Pro. That said, Fnatic still contain several potent threats and seem to be improving after every map they play, win or lose. As such, expect the new Fnatic to give Virtus Pro a run for their money, while unfortunately it would be a spectacle to see Hellraisers take even a single map at EPICENTER.