ESL Pro League S15 Group B Preview
ESL Pro League S15 continues on March 16th with Group B. The second 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 B is next up and it contains multiple contenders for a top four finish at Pro League.
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 B
|ENCE||FaZe Clan||FURIA Esports|
|Outsiders (Virtus.pro)||Sprout||Team Vitality|
FaZe Clan Riding High
All eyes in Group B at ESL Pro League will be on FaZe Clan. Coming off of their historic victory at IEM Katowice, FaZe Clan are looking to keep their momentum going. Unlike the previous tournament where FaZe had to substitute multiple players due to COVID, their entire roster looks healthy are ready to go.
We did catch a glimpse of their full five-man unit in their matches against Fnatic and NAVI, but it will be nice to see them together for an entire tournament. At the helm of FaZe is in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen. He showed how well he can pilot this team, even with a stand-in, by winning at Katowice. Now, he has the chance to bring even more hardware home.
Can Vitality Bounce Back?
If FaZe Clan was the unexpected success story of IEM Katowice, Team Vitality was the unexpected let-down. During the off-season, Vitality put together a “super team” with a core of their three most consistent French players highlighted by Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut. The remaining two player slots and coach position were filled by the legendary Astralis trio of Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, Emil “Magisk” Reif, and Danny “zonic” Sørensen.
Despite the large amount of hype behind this roster, Vitality hasn’t seen an improvement in their performance. In their 15 maps played so far this year, they have an 8-7 record with five of those losses coming at IEM Katowice. A 9th-12th place finish is not the standard that this squad wants to set. However, it’s still very early in the life of this roster. Vitality has a chance at ESL Pro League to make a statement that they are indeed a title contender.
Different Name, Same Virtus.pro
Due to the recent Russia-Ukraine military conflict, ESL has decided to ban organizations with ties to the Russian government. Virtus.pro’s ownership falls under that umbrella, and as such, they have been banned from representing the VP name, logo, and sponsors. The team will still be competing at ESL Pro League under the name “Outsiders” as a result.
While this Virtus.pro roster might not be super flashy title contenders, they are still a very consistent squad that can beat anyone on their day. Their most recent big tournament results include a top four at IEM Winter and a top six at IEM Katowice, so the potential is there for Outsiders to make a run. Step one is escaping Group B however, and there is some stiff competition they’ll need to best.
Another team with the potential to make it out of Group B is FURIA Esports. As the only Brazilian team present at ESL Pro League, FURIA have a lot of expectations on their shoulders. FURIA haven’t been in the CS:GO headlines nearly as much in the past year. However, this team can still put together promising performances if the circumstances are right.
FURIA’s chaotic playstyle can be very difficult for even top teams to play against. This is especially true when there is a lack of preparation done against them. Luckily for FURIA, the ESL Pro League groups format requires team to play five matches all on consecutive days. If they play their cards right, FURIA can easily sneak away with enough wins to secure a top three seed.
Wildcards in ENCE
ENCE is a very interesting team to track coming into ESL Pro League S15. On paper, this squad could be written off as top three contenders when lined up next to the likes of FaZe, Vitality, and VP. However, ENCE has actually been coming into their own as of recent. They were just two rounds short of upsetting NAVI in match one of the IEM Katowice group stage. While they did fall to a 13th-16th place finish, ENCE showed flashes of brilliance at that event.
Just like with FURIA, ENCE are an aggressive team that can very easily thrive in this kind of format. Being the second lowest rated team in Group B could be a blessing as teams may opt to prepare more for the more apparent threats with their limited time. Don’t be surprised if ENCE proves to be a major upset threat.
Sprout Stay Optimistic
There’s always one team that has to take a beating in these stacked ESL Pro League groups. Sprout is the squad in that position here, although they won’t necessarily be as free a win as LFO was in Group A. Sprout have experience playing against the top level of teams in CS:GO. Just last month they took 12 rounds off of FaZe Clan in BO1 at the IEM Katowice play-in stage.
Its definitely a stretch to say that Sprout can advance to the ESL Pro League playoffs. However, earning a win is not out of the question. They have some promising talent and the benefit of being in a hyper competitive group. Teams will need to stay wary of Sprout.
ESL Pro League S15 Group B begins on March 16 at 6:30 A.M. CT. The initial matchups are:
Team Vitality vs Sprout
FaZe Clan vs ENCE
Outsiders vs FURIA Esports