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CS:GO

ESL Pro League Season 14 Group B Preview

Zakaria Almughrabi

ESL Pro League Season 14 Group B begins on August 21st. Six of the 24 total teams present will start their campaigns in Europe for a chance at $750,000, ESL Pro Tour points, and a spot at the BLAST Premier World Finals. While there is one standout favorite in the Group, there are also some unknown quantities coming into it. With three playoff seeds on the line, Group B could get messy.

ESL Pro League Group B

G2 Esports are the big favorites to take first seed in Group B. A chaotic middle of the table sits beneath them, all fighting for a playoff spot. (Image Credit ESL)

ESL Pro League Season 14 Group B

Complexity Gaming – Rank #16

forZe – Rank #18

G2 Esports – Rank #3

OG – Rank #14

Sinners Esports – Rank #23

Virtus.pro – Rank #5

G2’s Group for the Taking

The strongest team on paper in Group B is easily G2 Esports. The group favorites come into ESL Pro League Season 14 after a big second place finish at the IEM Cologne LAN return in July. Prior to that, G2 had already been on a meteoric rise. The squad was consistently on the edge of glory when the online era began in early to mid-2020. When the new year came around, however, G2 started facing problems.

A roster change in March saw AWPer Kenny “kennyS” Schrub hit the bench with Audric “JaCkz” Jug returning to fill a rifler role. With this swap, their big-budget star Nikola “NiKo” Kovač could finally assume his preferred AWP/Hybrid playstyle. G2’s results improved drastically after just one month. They are currently on five event streak of top four finishes. However, G2 still hasn’t broken their long trophy drought.

Group B should be the opening act for G2 at ESL Pro League Season 14. This team is certainly a contender to win it all and is expected to show up in force here. Anything less than first seed and a first round playoff bye would be a disappointment for G2.

Virtus.pro’s Potential

The next highest-rated team residing in Group B is Virtus.pro of the CIS. This team is a hard one to pin down, as they have shown varying levels of success all year. VP have gone from a second-place finish at a stacked IEM Katowice in February to a 7-8th place finish at Pro League a month later. Even more recently, VP placed second at the EPIC CIS RMR event, only to get kicked out in 9-10th at the StarLadder CIS RMR the next month.

Going by their most recent result, Virtus.pro did manage to make playoffs at IEM Cologne and nearly managed to beat Astralis in their Quarterfinals matchup. Virtus.pro should be a favorite to fill one of the remaining two advancement seeds in Group B assuming they’ve maintained their form from a month ago. Even so, VP cannot get complacent for even a second. There are multiple teams who could easily take their spot if VP start slipping once again.

Inconsistent International Rosters

Two of the expected mid-table teams in Group B will be the lineups of Complexity Gaming and OG. Both of these rosters were part of international ambitions from two major esports organizations. At this point, neither have found much consistent success. Each team has also been through a recent rebuild as a result.

Complexity made headlines recently with their acquisition of the Astralis and Cloud9 player, Patrick “es3tag” Hensen, who replaced William “RUSH” Wierzba. This change was made after a disappointing 13-16th place finish at IEM Cologne. ESL Pro League S14 would have been the first excursion for Complexity’s new full roster if not for a last-minute replacement. Core member Kristian “k0nfig” Wieneche is currently out with a wrist injury. Niels “NaToSaphiX” Sillassen will be standing in as a result.

With essentially two new players and a new coach who was signed at the same time as es3tag, Complexity’s expectations are tempered, to say the least. Making the playoffs under these circumstances would be a dream come true. While this would normally not be possible at one of the biggest events in Counter-Strike, the inconsistency of their Group competition could allow for a miracle.

ESL Pro League Complexity

Complexity is looking for a fresh start at ESL Pro League. Can they do the impossible with half of their team changed? (Image Credit ESL)

While Complexity is currently in the middle of a rebuild, OG are nearing the end of theirs. The original OG lineup was created in late 2019 with lofty aspirations in mind. Although they had some high highs, the squad also suffered through many subpar performances. After two awful campaigns at BLAST Spring and IEM Katowice, OG called for changes.

The team eventually settled on Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen and Shahar “flameZ” Shushan to replace Nathan “NBK-“ Schmitt and Issa “ISSAA” Murad. Since the full roster came together in mid-April, OG has had some extremely up and down results. Their two most recent appearances resulted in an incredible second place at IEM Summer and a horrible 17th-20th exit from IEM Cologne. ESL Pro League is the next chance for OG to prove themselves. While the team isn’t at a major turning point yet, making playoffs here would be a great boost for this new roster.

forZe Stumble In

This spot in Group B initially belonged to Renegades. The Australian squad who recently managed to qualify for the IEM Cologne main stage unfortunately had to withdraw from ESL Pro League due to travel restrictions. This happened just 10 days before the group was set to begin, forcing ESL to find a surprise replacement. ForZe were the team who could fit the criteria and make it over in time, allowing them to claim the spot.

While this CIS squad had seen some levels of success and exposure in previous years, 2021 did not start out well. ForZe benched two long-time players in Bogdan “xsepower” Chernikov and Dmitriy “facecrack” Alexeev in February. They have since shown some levels of improvement, notably placing well at Funspark ULTI and Pinnacle Cup II. Even so, forZe is not expected to place well here at ESL Pro League. Securing a top three seed in Group B is a long shot at best. Hopefully, they can at least be competitive in their harder matchups.

Sinners Debut on the Big Stage

The final team in Group B at ESL Pro League Season 14 is Sinners Esports. Many people will have never heard of this team before. This is because Pro League will be the organization’s first step into an S Tier CS:GO event. Sinners is an all-Czech team headlined by former mousesports star Tomáš “⁠oskar⁠” Šťastný. Oskar was the newest addition to the roster, coming in one year after they initially debuted.

Ever since he joined Sinners, the team began steadily improving. Their efforts culminated at ESEA Season 37 Premiere where they blew past prominent teams such as AGO and BIG to claim the title and a spot at ESL Pro League Season 14. For Sinners, this is a chance to gain some exposure to the international CS:GO audience. The Czech squad will certainly be fighting for every round with no expectations weighing them down.