News

EPICENTER 2019 Preview, Storylines To Watch

Zakaria Almughrabi  | 
Which of the eight teams will leave EPICENTER 2019 $250,000 richer? (Image via EPICENTER)

Which of the eight teams will leave EPICENTER 2019 $250,000 richer? (Image via EPICENTER)

EPICENTER 2019 is just around the corner, continuing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s December tournament gauntlet. Beginning on December 17, eight teams from around the world will gather in Moscow, Russia. The six-day event will boast a $500,000 prize pool, with half going to the winners.

The Format

The eight teams will be split into two groups. Each group is a double-elimination bracket with best-of-three matches. The number one team will advance directly to the semifinals, while the second and third place teams must play in the quarterfinals as the high and low seeds respectively. Playoffs will be a single-elimination bracket with best-of-three matches

The Participants

The eight teams playing at EPICENTER 2019 are:

Virtus.pro Evil Geniuses Natus Vincere Team Vitality
Heroic mousesports forZe EHOME

Upon first look, there are quite a few heavyweight teams who all have a very good chance at taking first place. From North America, Evil Geniuses are certainly a favorite. EG boast one of the most talented rosters in all of Counter-Strike and have earned multiple wins at top-level events in the Fall. However, their recent performances at tournaments like the ESL Pro League Finals have seen the Geniuses lose a step. Their ceiling is still incredibly high and the other top four ranked CS:GO rosters are not in attendance, so they have a straight shot to the title.

No team is hotter entering EPICENTER 2019 than mousesports (Photo via HLTV)

No team is hotter entering EPICENTER 2019 than mousesports (Photo via HLTV)

One of the more interesting teams to track will be mousesports. The European squad is coming off of their biggest win ever at ESL Pro League Finals and a surprising first-place finish at CS_Summit with a stand-in and their coach playing. Mousesports have all the momentum in the world at their back, and a win here at EPICENTER would solidify them as the hottest team in all of Counter-Strike aside from Astralis.

Rounding out the favorites are Team Vitality and Natus Vincere. Ever since Vitality’s roster changes following the StarLadder Berlin Major, the team has been trying to gel together. The French squad has had their share of success with a top-two and four finish at DreamHack Malmo and IEM Beijing respectively. They’ve also had their share of failure, such as barely not qualifying for ESL Pro League Finals. They’ve been on a break since mid-November, so hopefully, Vitality can come in rested and prepared.

Na'Vi has taken a much-needed break recently and showed up fresh at the ESL Pro League Finals (Photo via HLTV)

Na’Vi has taken a much-needed break recently and showed up fresh at the ESL Pro League Finals (Photo via HLTV)

Natus Vincere is a very similar story. They’ve made roster changes and have seen some good results. The CIS squad has also been on a long break since November, but they did appear at the ESL Pro League Finals a week ago. There, Na’Vi impressed everyone across the entire event and finished in the top four. With the team looking to be in form, Na’Vi will certainly want to add another trophy to their cabinet before the end of 2019.

Honorable mentions go to Virtus.pro and Heroic. Virtus.pro just purchased AVANGAR’s CS:GO roster and this will be their first event under the Polish organization’s banner. They are a strong lineup in their own right and should not be underestimated. Heroic recently won DreamHack Open Atlanta and competed in the ESL Pro League Finals, so they are no slouches themselves. Look for the only Danish roster at the event to cause some chaos.

Another story at EPICENTER will be the battle for the title of “best player in the world.” This will be the first time since DreamHack Malmo in early October that Vitality’s Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut and Na’Vi’s Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev will meet in-game. Last time, Vitality took the win and knocked Na’Vi out of the playoffs. The two teams have even been placed in the same group and will likely clash in the winner’s finals.

How to Watch EPICENTER 2019

EPICENTER 2019 begins on December 17 at 5:00 a.m. EST on Twitch. The initial group stage matchups are:

Group A

Team Vitality vs EHOME

Natus Vincere vs Heroic

Group B

forZe vs Evil Geniuses

Virtus.pro vs mousesports

Playoffs begin on December 21 at 6:00 a.m. EST, and Grand Finals take place on December 22 at 10:00 a.m. EST. Tune in to watch multiple Counter-Strike giants go head to head in the last tournament of the year, and check back at Hotspawn for more CS:GO coverage.

Zakaria Almughrabi
Zakaria Almughrabi
Zakaria is a former professional TF2 player turned caster and analyst. He has had a passion for gaming and esports for years and hopes to use his skills and experience to convey why gaming is so great. His specialty games are League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros, and PUBG.