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ESL Pro League S15 Group C Preview

Zakaria Almughrabi

ESL Pro League S15 Group C kicks off on March 23. The third group of six teams have gathered in Düsseldorf, Germany for the first ESL Pro League LAN since Season 10. An $823,000 prize pool is up for grabs with $175,000 going to the eventual champions, as well as a spot at the BLAST World Final later this year. While Group B was a group of death, Group C is a group of life.

ESL Pro League S15 Group C

Gambit will be competing under the name "Players." Can they secure their spot at the top of Group C? (Image Credit ESL)

Each group will run independently of one another and consist of six teams. The teams will play a round robin (five total games) with the top three finishers advancing to the playoffs. The number one seed from each group will also earn a first-round bye and be directly seeded into the quarterfinals.

ESL Pro League Season 15: Group C

Players (Gambit Esports) Team Liquid GODSENT
BIG Movistar Riders Party Astronauts

Players Play up to Par

ESL’s ban on organizations with ties to the Russian government has directly affected the obvious favorites to take Group C. Gambit Esports will be attending ESL Pro League S15 as “Players,” just like how played as “Outsiders” in Group B. Despite the squad going through some tough times internally, they are still far and away the strongest team in this group.

If Players can bring even half of their usual strength to the table here, they should be able to make the playoffs. Obviously, earning first seed and a direct ticket to the quarterfinals is the goal for the Russian squad. Any less would be an underperformance. That said, we have seen many a favorite not even qualify for playoffs in the first two groups of ESL Pro League, so anything goes.

Can BIG Stand Out?

It has been a while since BIG have made themselves known as a title contender in CS:GO. Their last time in HLTV’s top 10 was about seven months ago. Things have gotten even worse for BIG lately, as they failed to qualify for the IEM Katowice Group Stage and have struggled against many weaker opponents in the RMR qualifiers. Even so, they are still one of the stronger teams in Group C on paper.

BIG just made their second roster change since the off-season, demoting Nils “k1to” Gruhne to their academy squad while promoting Karim “Krimbo” Moussa. Some fresh blood could help them find some groove and finish with a top three seed. If BIG can’t make it out of Group C, they wouldn’t be able to make it out anywhere else.

Liquid need Results

The most prominent North American CS:GO organization made some big changes in the off-season, changing over half their roster. Unfortunately, Liquid has been extremely slow to start their campaign this year. Their three results include a last place finish at BLAST Spring Groups, last place at the IEM Katowice Group Stage, and runner-up at the PGL Major American RMR to Complexity.

For an organization so used to being at the top level of competition, this Liquid squad has fallen short of the mark in their first three months together. Of course, three months is still within ramping period for a team with so much experience behind them. Group C could be a nice confidence builder for Liquid moving forward. They could even show up in form and take first seed.

GODSENT Represent Brazil

After the great success of their countrymen in FURIA Esports, taking first place in a stacked Group B, GODSENT is looking to make Brazil two for two in advancing to the ESL Pro League playoffs. They are much more of a long shot than the strongest team from the region, but Group C is much less imposing to compensate.

GODSENT may not have a roster stacked with talent and experience across the board, but they do have the leadership of Epitácio “TACO” de Melo to tie the young squad together. In addition, GODSENT just picked up veteran AWPer Henrique “HEN1” Teles a day before the group begins. While it may still be an uphill battle, GODSENT should not be underestimated.

Can Movistar make Upsets?

As the one major Spanish lineup in CS:GO, Movistar have been a mixed bag over the past half a year. At their best, they’ve looked like a promising squad ready to start advancing towards that upper tier of teams. Recently however, they’ve been on quite the downtrend. After failing to get out of the IEM Katowice Play-in Stage, Movistar bombed out of all four PGL Major RMR Open Qualifiers.

Its hard to imagine that the current Movistar form can make too many splashes at ESL Pro League. Even so, the nature of the format means that teams have to pick and choose which matches to put more resources towards preparing for. Movistar may be able to fly under the radar and grab some wins, but it still might not be enough to advance.

Party Astronauts make their Appeal

The second and final orgless squad here at ESL Pro League is Party Astronauts from North America. Most of the players on this roster have been around the scene competing for many years, switching hands back and forth between tier two NA orgs.

It’s unrealistic to expect this squad to make playoffs here, but the goal for any un-orged team who makes it to ESL Pro League is to appeal to potential buyers. Snagging even a single match would be a massive win for the Astronauts.

ESL Pro League S15 Group C begins on March 23 at 6:30 A.M. CT. The initial matchups are:

Players vs Party Astronauts

GODSENT vs Movistar Riders

Team Liquid vs BIG