ESL Pro League S15 Group A Preview
ESL Pro League S15 kicks off on March 9 with Group A. Twenty-four teams from across the globe will gather 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. 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 A
|G2 Esports||Ninjas in Pyjamas||Entropic|
G2 Lead the Pack
The easy favorites on paper to top Group A and earn the first-round bye is G2 Esports. Their revamped roster has proven to be very strong overall. With Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen IGL-ing and 16-year-old prodigy Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov now providing tons of value to the team, G2 earned second place at IEM Katowice at the end of February.
The core of Audric “JACKZ” Jug, Nemanja “huNter-“ Kovač, and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač have been together on G2 for over 16 months now. Despite being a phenomenal core of talented and smart players, G2 has not won a trophy since 2019. With their ranks reinforced and even more potential improvement ahead of them, this could be G2’s tournament to win.
The second highest rated team in Group A is Ninjas in Pyjamas. NiP are expected to earn an advancement seed at minimum. However, it can be hard to gauge exactly how strong of a squad NiP really is. With Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz still on medical leave, youngster Love “phzy” Smidebrant will continue standing in as the team’s AWPer. While he has shown potential to hang in the top level, his inconsistency can be a problem for NiP overall.
The team’s strongest asset has to be their IGL, Hampus “hampus” Poser. In addition to calling the shots for the team, hampus is often plays the roles of lurker, entry fragger, and even clutcher when its needed. If Hampus can rally his troops and keep them performing at a solid base line, getting out of this group should be no issue for NiP.
MOUZ Make Improvements
Group A at ESL Pro League is interesting because the second and third seed hopefuls have recently played each other. MOUZ were the team that knocked Entropiq out of the IEM Katowice play-in stage a couple of weeks ago. MOUZ then had their playoff hopes extinguished by NiP in the lower bracket. By transitive property, this would mean that MOUZ is favored to earn the third playoff spot in Group A.
It’s never that simple, obviously, but MOUZ do have some momentum going for them. The recent acquisition of Nathan “NBK-“ Schmitt proved to be very impactful in giving this team some more firepower and experience. MOUZ seemed to be gelling more at Katowice then they had in the tournaments prior. We’ll have to see if this continues to be the case, or if it was just the honeymoon phase post-roster change.
For a team that has been one of the more consistent challengers to the top dogs in the CIS region, not even making the IEM Katowice group stage was certainly a disappointment for Entropiq. This team is known to trade blows with the heavyweights of the region in NAVI, Gambit, and Virtus.pro when they’re in form, so the potential is certainly there.
Entropiq have had the same five players and coach together since January of 2021 on Winstrike Team. The synergy and team cohesion should be there in spades, especially compared to rosters who are coming off of one or multiple changes. Its mostly a matter of Entropiq showing up in their peak form if they want to snag a top three finish.
Fnatic’s Roster Woes
One of those teams with even more roster swaps to work out is Fnatic. This team has been out of the CS:GO limelight for quite some time now, although they were able to make somewhat of a splash at IEM Katowice. Their roster that had been together for about four months managed to knock BIG out of the play-in stage before majorly upsetting G2 and taking a map off of the eventual champions FaZe Clan.
Although they didn’t qualify for the playoffs, Fnatic looked to be on the rise with results like that. However, Fnatic benched Owen “smooya” Butterfield the day after. Additionally, it looks like one of their more consistent threats in Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin will not be playing at Pro League. Fnatic have opted to promote two players from their academy roster. They need these young players to perform if they hope to make playoffs here.
Looking for a Win
The one Oceanic representative at ESL Pro League is LookingForOrg. Usually, this spot is property of Renegades. However, the Oceanic powerhouse forfeited their qualification matches back in October. That left LFO and ORDER to compete for the coveted ESL Pro League spot.
LFO were victorious in the five-map series, granting them the privilege of playing on an international stage. Not much can be expected from a local team moving into a much bigger pond. It will be some nice experience for them at minimum. Each group stage win at Pro League is worth $5,000, so maybe LFO can earn a little cash until they find an org.
ESL Pro League S15 Group A begins on March 9 at 5:30 A.M. CT. The initial matchups are:
G2 Esports vs LookingForOrg
Entropiq vs MOUZ
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Fnatic