EPL Group A- G2’s victory might be harder than it seems
ESL Pro League Season 15 kicks off with 5 days of BO3s for Group A, the weakest of the four. G2 has a red carpet rolled out directly to the Quarter-Finals, so theoretically the only question is: who takes second and third place? Fnatic are apparently imploding, Entropiq haven’t done much in the past few months and Looking For Org do not have the pedigree to compete with top 20 teams. That leaves us with NIP and MOUZ. But can either of them go beyond second or third?
G2’s strong start
G2 are by far the overwhelming favorites to win the Group. The new line-up with Aleksib as IGL and Monesy as main awper should’ve taken a while to get online, but Katowice showed that they’ve clicked together instantly. Bringing a new in-game leader to a team, especially paired with a totally inexperienced 16 year old, should come with some growing pains, but the only worrying sign G2 showed at Katowice was an underperforming Niko when playoffs started.
The Bosnian star seemed to be at the absolute top of his game, but fell off massively when the team played in the Spodek arena. Although this wasn’t ideal, it was an outlier for a player as talented as Niko, and brought with it some good news too. This isn’t the Niko show anymore, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Hunter has been posting insane numbers, Aleksib called some very good T-side rounds in every map they played— especially Inferno— and Monesy is a very high impact player who doesn’t crumble under pressure. If these things don’t change and Niko posts his usual numbers, this team is nigh-on unbeatable.
With that said, they dropped a map to Furia and Astralis, two teams who haven’t exactly shown a high level of play, so they might slip against either NIP or MOUZ. Despite their great first showing at Katowice, this is still a very new team who likes to play on dangerous maps and mistakes are likely.
NIP are a weird case. They are still missing their main star in dev1ce, but have actually been playing better without him. The Ninjas had a tough group in Katowice, having to face Gambit, VP and MOUZ and still almost made the playoffs. They convincingly dispatched of MOUZ, and although they struggled against the CIS teams, still managed to get a 2-1 win against GMB.
They play a very strong Ancient and have shown they are able to fight back on Mirage. The G2-NIP matchup happened not too long ago in Blast and Niko’s team only managed to close the game out in the 2nd Overtime. If Hampus and Rez maintain the form they’ve been showing, the Ninjas have enough firepower to pull off a surprise win against the exciting G2 roster. It won’t be easy, especially since they will most likely have to win Mirage, but they have the advantage of being the last team to play against G2, which gives them 4 days of tape to study and give them a possible upper hand.
MOUZ strikes gold again
MOUZ are the other exciting contender in this Group. The team looked like a very dangerous underdog in Katowice, even though they were forced to field one of their NXT players in JDC due to Bymas’ absence. The team will actually be able to play with their whole roster for this event and it isn’t lacking firepower.
Frozen now has the space to shine as the roster’s main shine, but he isn’t alone in his fragging. Coming straight out of the aforementioned NXT line-up, Torszi had one hell of a debut in Katowice, showing that MOUZ do have an unmatched eye for talent. The young Hungarian player would be the most exciting new awper in tier 1 if he hadn’t been promoted at the same time as Monesy. Bymas will have another chance to prove himself now, but he is the biggest question mark in the team, alongside Dexter.
The Australian IGL failed to make MOUZ’s previous line-up work and hasn’t been surprising anyone since his days in Renegade. This time it might be different though, because he won’t be leading a line-up of young players all by himself. The most puzzling addition to the roster is NBK, but as Thorin pointed out in a recent video, his years and years of experience coupled with his tendency to help the IGL directly can be the key that makes this entire project click.
MOUZ should have a third place confirmed here with how turbulent Fnatic’s road looks, but they can also play spoiler to G2’s sprint to the Quarter-Finals. Although they aren’t as dangerous as NIP on paper, they share G2’s permaban in Overpass, so they can and should try to make the Map veto unpredictable. They’ve shown that they can beat the hardest competition on Nuke and Vertigo (wins over Faze, Vitality) and they have a dangerous Overpass, especially if Torzsi is as good as he has been so far. With the sheer difference in firepower, G2 will need to slip-up to even give MOUZ a chance, but if they do falter the young line-up will pounce.
EPL’s Group A might look entirely decided on paper, but don’t give the win to G2 before we see some of these games unfurl. All these rosters are relatively new, map pools aren’t cemented yet and having daily games with no breaks leaves very little time for preparation. It is the least exciting group in the tournament, but we might see some surprises from MOUZ and NIP. If that isn’t the case, we’ll at least have a show to behold from G2.