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ESL Pro League Season 14 Group D Preview

Zakaria Almughrabi

ESL Pro League Season 14 Group D begins on September 1. The final six squads have been waiting to play for a chance at $750,000, ESL Pro Tour points, and a spot at the BLAST Premier World Finals. Group D is the weakest group of them all on paper, with one team being runaway favorites. As a result, the middle of the table will likely turn into a bloodbath.

ESL Pro League Group D

Gambit will be looking to take first seed in Group D. Which of the remaining teams will join them in the playoffs? (Image Credit ESL)

ESL Pro League Season 14 Group D

Gambit Esports – Rank #2

Ninjas in Pyjamas – Rank #9

Team Liquid – Rank #16

FURIA Esports – Rank #15

Team One – Rank #44

Entropiq – Rank #18

Gambit’s Group to Win

Group D is the group of life here at ESL Pro League Season 14. When looking down the list of six teams playing over the next five days, one name stands out. Gambit Esports are the obvious favorites to take the group and lock in a first round playoff bye. The winningest team throughout 2021 will be looking to bounce back from their unfortunate exit at IEM Cologne in 5th-6th.

Not much has changed with Gambit. They’re still the same team of powerful fraggers and incredible game sense. In fact, the return of coach Ivan “F_1N” Kochugov from his ESIC ban over the coaching bug eight months ago has the potential to fill the gaps in their play even further. It’s hard to bet against Gambit crushing this group.

NiP Need to Show Up

After Gambit, the next strongest team on paper in Group D is Ninjas in Pyjamas. It has now been over four months since legend Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz joined the Swedish squad. Their ranks were then bolstered with young talent Linus “LNZ” Holtang who has been one of the team’s top performers since. Despite this, NiP’s results have been lukewarm overall.

The Ninja’s two most recent appearances were a promising top four at the BLAST Spring Finals followed by a disappointing 9th-12th place finish at IEM Cologne. Here in Group D, they are certainly favored in securing a top three finish and playoff spot. However, plenty of teams in their position such as from Group B and FaZe from C have fallen short. NiP needs to make sure they are prepared for whatever this group throws at them.

NiP ESL Pro League

Ninjas in Pyjamas are the most likely team after Gambit to earn a top three finish in Group D. (Image Credit ESL)

Weight on Liquid’s Shoulders

No region has been more disappointing at ESL Pro League than North America. While the 0-5 record by Bad News Bears was fairly expected, Evil Geniuses going 0-5 in Group C was a bit harder of a pill to swallow for NA. The region has been bleeding talent and interest for a while. Liquid is now the last bastion of North American Counter-Strike.

While Liquid did look somewhat strong to start the year, we haven’t gotten many of the same looks from them since. Liquid have only attended four events in the past five months with three being mixed region. In those three, Liquid have failed to make the top eight in every single one. That said, they did manage to take a game off of NiP and beat mousesports at IEM Cologne. The player break could have allowed Liquid to fix their weaknesses and show up in form, but seeing it is different from believing it.

FURIA Under Fire

Speaking of struggling regional favorites, FURIA has been having a rough time as well recently. Brazil’s best CS:GO team has been a far cry from incredibly successful 2019 and 2020 selves. Their only notable result this year came funnily enough at ESL Pro League Season 13 where they earned a top four finish. Aside from that, they have failed to make much of an impact at their other attended events except NA’s cs_summit 8 RMR where they took second.

The Brazilians have also recently made the decision to move Lucas “honda” Cano down to their academy squad and promote Andre “drop” Abreu. However, rosters had already been locked by that point, forcing them to still run with honda for Pro League. Then, honda decided not to travel after a positive COVID test in his family, forcing FURIA to play with their coach Nicholas “guerri” Nogueira. The cards are stacked against FURIA doing too well here, but a couple of favorable results could be all they need to be compete for a bubble spot.

Entropiq’s Entry to Tier One

Many viewers likely have never heard of Entropiq before their appearance at ESL Pro League. Essentially, this is a Czech and Russian organization who picked up the former roster of Winstrike Team and moved their Czech roster to a new branch. The experienced ex-Winstrike squad managed to win ESEA Premier S36 in April, tying an ESL Pro League spot to their names. They found their new home a month after.

Entropiq’s most notable results since being signed have been two sixth place finishes at the EPIC and StarLadder CIS RMR events and three high placements at Spring Sweet Springs and the Elisa Invitational. Just a week ago, Entropiq played in the Malta Vibes Series #1 and managed to take first place over ENCE. ENCE have already managed to qualify for the ESL Pro League playoffs from Group A, a much more stacked group than D. Entropiq could very well be a wildcard squad to advance.

Team One

So far at ESL Pro League Season 14, every group has had a squad go winless. Team One are the likely culprits to fulfill that result. Like Bad News Bears, the Brazilian squad also qualified to Pro League from earning an ESEA NA Premier title. They actually secured this spot by beating Extra Salt, a squad who has a decent amount of international experience.

While the likelihood of Team One pulling off some upset wins is certainly not zero, every game will be an uphill climb for them. Not only did they go 0-5 in their previous campaign at ESL Pro League Season 13, but they are also missing their coach who is on medical leave. It will take an effort we’ve seldom seen out of Team One if they want to make a splash.