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EPL S15- The Stand-in Group was impossible to predict.

EPL S15’s Group A, the most obvious on paper, surprised every single viewer with the most unexpected results possible. A lot of weird circumstances shook the group up, but the results are still mind-blowing. Let’s look at what happened. 

Group A was one plagued by stand-in issues, covid and non-covid related. Fnatic seemed to have imploded before the tournament started and, to add to the problems, one of the “rocks” of the team in Krimz also couldn’t make it to EPL due to a positive covid test. Due to the combination of these issues, Fnatic were forced to play with Peppzor, Poizon and Banjo. 

The internal turmoil and these emergency substitutions had most people discounting Fnatic entirely, but they surprisingly made it out of the group convincingly. The roster only dropped two series, once versus the dominating NIP and the other against a very dangerous Entropiq. Mezii and Poizon had one hell of a showing throughout these maps and Alex did some great IGL work in a very tough situation. We still don’t know what Fnatic will look like in the future, but this was a pleasant surprise to say the least.

In a weird middle ground, we had NIP. The team didn’t exactly suffer from any stand-in issues, but they’re still lacking their main star in dev1ce. Despite this, and as they’ve shown in previous tournaments, they are looking extremely strong and showed exactly that during this week. They won every single series in the tournament except the last one, which was essentially irrelevant due to their first place already being locked in. If the team levels up when dev1ce returns, how strong can NIP become?

Entropiq was in an entirely different situation. Their roster didn’t suffer any alterations, but the team has 4 Russian players which could’ve had their performance affected by the conflict between their country and Ukraine. If their performance worsened, it certainly didn’t show. The young roster swept MOUZ, Fnatic and even managed to eliminate G2 in a 2-1 win. They finished the group in second place, tied with NIP who was the only team who managed to beat them. 

Looking for Org didn’t manage to win a single series in the tournament, but that was expected. The opposition was much stronger, but they still managed to take a game out of NIP and Fnatic in their BO3 series. Their placing was, funnily enough, the only expected result to happen in the group.

The first (and lesser) surprise was MOUZ. The team had looked very exciting in Katowice despite being forced to play with a stand-in, yet they were cut short. They had a surprise 2-0 win over G2, but losses to Entropiq, NIP and Fnatic ended up eliminating them. Bymas clicked perfectly into the lineup with some very strong performances, Torzsi maintained a level very close to the one he showed at Katowice, but Frozen disappointed.

 The true replacement for Ropz and the talented player who now has the space to be a star player isn’t living up to the hype, and it shows. MOUZ needs more firepower and it won’t come from NBK and dexter, so the 19 year old needs to step up in the future. 

The biggest surprise of the group was G2, and for the worst reasons. The overwhelming favorites, coming straight out of a final in Katowice, had every chance to dominate the group and cleanly get through, but a mix of underperformances and unfortunate absences eventually prevented them from even making it through at all. 

Aleksib missed 3 of the 5 series due to covid, which of course contributed to the dip in performance, but other worrying signs showed simultaneously. Niko performed way below his level, with one particularly bad series against MOUZ, a 2-0 loss in which he was the worst player in G2. Monesy maintained his good level, so did Hunter and Jackz, but without Niko’s star power G2 aren’t that much of a threat. The games with Aleksib were better, especially the 2-0 win against NIP, but the team still lost against Entropiq with their full lineup.

The group was an unpredictable mess, but the three teams which went through are looking very strong. NIP do not seem affected in the slightest by dev1ce’s absence, Entropiq are showing how deep the CIS talent pool is and Fnatic are somehow making a make-shift line up work even better than their previous one. Let’s see what the rest of the tournament brings.

Images via ESL.