Stories to Watch at ESL Pro League Season 13 Group D
The final group of ESL Pro League Season 13 is about to kick off. Group D has the clearest split between the top and bottom. Team Liquid, Virtus.pro, and Astralis are all clear favorites to advance to playoffs. Evil Geniuses and Fnatic will have to bring something more than what we’ve seen from them in the past few months. Finally, Endpoint will mostly be looking to earn a single win.
EG’s New Rifler
The only team coming into Group D with a recent roster change is Evil Geniuses. After losing Ethan “Ethan” Arnold to 100 Thieves’ VALORANT division, EG picked up former Complexity rifler Owen “oBo” Schlatter. This is the first change this squad has made to their starting five since June of 2019 on NRG Esports.
For oBo, this will be his first match since he stepped down from Complexity in late September. After over six months of inactivity from high-level play, EG will be hoping oBo can slot in smoothly and fill the shoes left by Ethan. The Geniuses have been on a downwards trend from their successful 2020 year. In January, they slipped to rank 18 worldwide and now reside at 14th. This is the lowest they’ve been rated in over two years.
Whether or not the addition of oBo will help revitalize the squad is unknown. What we do know, however, is that Group D is a rough one to try and make a splash in. With Astralis, Virtus.pro, and Liquid holding ranks 2, 4, and 5, there is little room to try and squeeze into the top three seeds. EG’s best chance will be making a single upset happen then hoping they get help in keeping that team beneath them in the standings.
Virtus.pro’s Hot Streak
After their impressive top-two finish at IEM Katowice, Virtus.pro will be looking to continue their world-class form. The other two CIS squads at ESL Pro League Season 13 in Gambit and Na’Vi already earned their spots in playoffs, Gambit even going undefeated in Group C.
The polar bears have had a great run these past few months. They’ve made the Grand Finals in four of their past five attended events. Three of those ended in trophies. In fact, the only team who has knocked them out of a tournament since the end of November is Gambit. We know this roster has the potential to play at a world-class level, as evidenced by their many top finishes at some of the biggest events in Counter-Strike dating back to their time as AVANGAR.
Virtus.pro’s problems in the past have stemmed from a lack of creativity and evolution. Its style of getting Dzhami “Jame” Ali an AWP and playing around it was very effective during their Major run, but teams quickly adapted and figured them out. A year after its second-place finish at the Berlin Major, VP’s core had fallen from the 4th rank to 38th worldwide. Now that they are fully in the spotlight once again, VP will be tested in the same way as before. Hopefully, it has learned from their past mistakes.
Liquid vs. Astralis
El Classico is upon us once again in Group D. While the Liquid vs. Astralis rivalry peaked back in 2019, it is safe to say that these teams are at their closest in form in quite a while. Astralis has won the past nine meetings stemming all the way back to the Berlin Major. Prior to that streak, their head-to-head was 3-2 in favor of Liquid.
Liquid is currently playing its best Counter-Strike in over a year. While its championship drought is still ongoing, multiple top-four finishes at large events like the BLAST Global Final and IEM Katowice have helped shine a new light on North America’s golden child. Its new Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo-led roster has earned wins over powerhouses like Team Vitality and Na’Vi.
Meanwhile, Astralis is still a powerful team as usual. The Danish squad recently shifted back to a five-man roster after Valve’s announcement that pre-registered sixth players still count for the RMR point penalty upon being subbed in. However, that change doesn’t seem to have slowed them down nearly as much as Vitality, for instance. Astralis will certainly be looking for a number one finish despite the competition being stiff.
These two juggernauts will be meeting on the second day of play in a match that could very well decide who takes the first seed in the group.
ESL Pro League Group D begins on March 25 at 7:00 A.M. EST. The initial matches are:
Virtus.pro vs. Endpoint
Team Liquid vs. Fnatic
Astralis vs. Evil Geniuses