Only a couple of days separate us from the opening fixtures of ESL One: New York 2019, which is set to begin this Thursday, September 26th at Barclays Center in New York.
Marking the second Intel Grand Slam event of season three, ESL One: New York will once again feature eight of the elite CS:GO teams, five of which earned their spot at the Barclays Center via an invitation, whereas three had to work for their spot among the top dogs.
The eight participating teams are as follows: Astralis (invited), ENCE (invited), FaZe Clan (invited), Team Liquid (invited), NRG Esports (invited), OpTic Gaming (GG.Bet Invitational), G2 Esports (European Qualifier) and eUnited (North American Qualifier).
The teams have already been seeded into two groups of four, where they will compete in a double-elimination format, in a best-of-three (Bo3) series for all the fixtures. The seeding was done using ESL CS:GO World Rankings of the team, which resulted in the following draw:
Group A: Team Liquid, G2 Esports, ENCE, eUnited
Group B: Astralis, FaZe Clan, OpTic, NRG Esports
The group stage will conclude on Friday, September 27, when we will get to see which two teams topped their groups and will advance into the playoffs, where the remaining four teams will compete in a single-elimination bracket. Both semi-finals matches will be played in Bo3 series, whereas the grand finals, set to take place on Sunday, September 29, will switch to a best-of-five (Bo5) series.
With a heavily stacked line-up, we can say there will be no shortage of top tier talent, who will fight it out for the ultimate prize that is a point towards their IGS S3 title and the largest slice of $200,000 that will be up for grabs for top four teams.
Now that we have covered the basics of the tournament, let's check out the participating teams, and reveal our thoughts on which teams will emerge as the top four, and which do we believe have what it takes to go all the way!
We have to start at the bottom, which means the first team on the menu is eUnited. They are priced at $101 to go all the way which is fair as their chances to achieve anything here are extremely slim. I am confident saying there is close to no chance they even get out of the group, since they are paired with Team Liquid, G2 Esports and ENCE. All in all, eUnited lack any real firepower, strategy and overall quality to compete with any team of group A or the whole tournament for that matter.
OpTic ($67) are considered the second-worst team and I can't argue with that. They just seem like they can't form a team, since they just recently replaced one of their best players (Ismail "refrezh" Ali). I don't see them as a real threat here as they fall into the same category as eUnited, meaning they will need a miracle to get out of their group.
G2 ($17) are a class or two above both eUnited and OpTic, but the French team is a mess right now. They have revealed they are looking to rebuild their roster, but nothing has come out of it just yet. They did, however, let go of Richard "shox" Papillon. As a stand-in, they brought in Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey, who could remain at the team, but no official announcements have been released yet. All in all, poor form and roster changes won't do them any good here and I would personally be impressed if they get out of the group. That being said, their group rivals, ENCE and Team Liquid have their own problems, which could benefit the French roster.
ENCE ($13) failed to impress in the BLAST Pro Series Moscow, where it became obvious that their decision to let go of Aleksib was not the smartest move. While I believe they could be competitive with G2, without a proper IGL they won't get far, so I don't see them as a real contender for the title.
FaZe ($13) fall into the same category as ENCE, as I don't see them doing anything noteworthy since they decided to part ways with Filip "NEO" Kubski and Ladislav "Guardian" Kovács. With no proper firepower and no solid IGL, FaZe will most likely struggle in New York. They could impress and enter the playoffs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
NRG ($7.50) on the other side have impressed everyone in Berlin, where they demolished everyone that stood in their way in the New Legends Stage. They even went on to crush NaVi (2-0) in quarter-finals, only to be stopped by eventual champions Astralis in the semis (0-2). That being said, NRG are a very talented outfit and I could imagine them going far here, or at very least get out of the group. They seemed to have "choked" in Berlin, leaving us to believe they might face the same problem here, once they enter the final stage. Will that be the case, however, remains to be seen.
Team Liquid ($3.75) while the second-favourites to win here, failed to impress in Berlin, where they seemingly fell apart. While we mentioned NRG “choked” in Berlin, Team Liquid's "choke" was much more noticeable and much more worrying. Not only did they lose in the quarter-finals, but Team Liquid also had their fair share of "hiccups" in the New Legends stage where they did not look like rank one team, leaving us to believe they might be overrated here.
Last but not least we have Astralis ($1.90), who enter the ESL One: New York as favourites to win and we can't argue with it. From what we have seen from this Danish outfit in Berlin, no team can match them in terms of quality and overall performance. They finally look like the Astralis we looked at before they got dethroned by Team Liquid as the number one in the world, and if they can produce anything similar to what they have shown in Berlin, this is Astralis' tournament to lose.
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