ESL Pro League S15 Group D Preview
ESL Pro League S15 Group D begins on March 30. The final 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. Group D contains a couple of heavy hitters followed by some question marks.
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 D
|Complexity Gaming||Evil Geniuses||AGO|
Can NAVI Break the First Seed Curse?
As the number one ranked CS:GO team in the world, Natus Vincere are the favorites to earn a first seed finish in Group D. However, in every group preceding this one, the favorite hasn’t been able to live up to expectations. The format of ESL Pro League, five matches in five straight days, is not helpful when you have a massive target on your back after all.
NAVI is an incredibly strong team overall. Although the squad is going through some tough times due to real world conflicts in Ukraine and Russia, they should still be able to advance to the playoffs on baseline skill and preparation alone. That said, they will be missing their in-game leader Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov for the start of the event due to COVID. It is unknown when he’ll be able to play.
Heroic Stay Hungry
The Danish Heroic squad is also coming into ESL Pro League as a contender for the title. They showed up strong at IEM Katowice last month, sweeping the likes of Team Vitality and Virtus.pro. Their only match loss came to the eventual champions in FaZe Clan. This team has been red hot to start 2022 and will certainly be looking for another ESL Pro League trophy.
Heroic has been amazing at the tricky EPL format in the past, going 5-0 in their group in both S13 and S14. With NAVI’s IGL temporarily inactive, Heroic might have an easier time securing their third straight ESL Pro League first seed. This is especially true as the rest of their competition looks shaky to say the least.
Can Astralis Find their Groove?
The other all Danish squad at ESL Pro League S15 is Astralis. The historically best team in CS:GO has undergone many changes in both players and coaching staff over the past year. Comparing their performance now to the success of the past roster doesn’t do Astralis any favors. They’ve failed to crack into the top four of any events since November of last year. However, there is one new change that could help Astralis out.
The recent signing of Asger “farlig” Jensen last month should be a much-needed upgrade for the Danish squad. Ever since the loss of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, Astralis have struggled in the AWPing department. Farlig was a very promising player on the FunPlus Phoenix CS:GO team before they were disbanded by the org. If farlig can bring the peak form he showed there to Astralis, they will certainly be dangerous.
Where does Complexity Stand?
One of the squads competing for a playoff bubble spot here in Group D is Complexity Gaming. The North American squad was pulled together at the start of the year from Extra Salt, Team Liquid, and FURIA Esports players. Although they started off a bit slow, the team recently showed up strong at the PGL Antwerp Major RMR event, beating Team Liquid to secure first place.
Complexity’s current lineup is full of experienced players. They’ve all faced off against tier one talent in the scene before, so they know what to expect. We just haven’t seen them gel together at this level yet. COL didn’t win a map at BLAST Spring Groups and got swept by Virtus.pro at ESL Challenger in their only international showings so far. Complexity will need to come out swinging if they want to secure a top three seed.
EG’s Low Expectations
On paper, this Evil Geniuses roster looks like a contender for best in North America. However, we haven’t seen a level from them that would support that idea. This squad was brough together in January of this year, adding a three-man core of Jake “Stewie2K” Yip, Timothy “autimatic” Ta, and William “RUSH” Wierzba. For long time CS:GO fans, you may recognize these three from the Cloud9 team that won NA’s only Major ever in 2018.
2018 was a long time ago, and many of these players haven’t shown their peaks in a while. What we have to go off of recently is a last place finish at BLAST Spring Groups, a top 17th-32nd at one PGL RMR, and a second place to Party Astronauts in another. While losing to a team that went 0-5 in an easier group doesn’t bode well for EG, they could surprise us with some vintage form.
AGO Aim for a Win
So far, every expected bottom seed has gone 0-5 in their ESL Pro League S15 group. AGO will be looking to break that streak, although it will be a difficult task. This team has made roster changes since their qualification tournament win at ESEA S37 EU Premiere. They haven’t seen a lick of success at all in 2022.
It will be surprising if AGO can pick up even a single win, but who knows. ESL Pro League is notoriously difficult to predict and surprises, like the Movistar Riders’ 5-0 record, can crop up here and there.
ESL Pro League S15 Group D begins on March 23 at 5:30 A.M. CT. The initial matchups are:
Natus Vincere vs AGO
Complexity Gaming vs Heroic
Astralis vs Evil Geniuses