From October 21, 2019, we welcome back StarSeries & i-League which will travel to Belek, Turkey, for the 10th StarSeries & i-League event in history and the second event of the year. It will feature some of the best CS:GO teams from all corners of the Earth, who will duke it out for the title and the largest slice of US$500,000 prizepool.
Competing at StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8, we will get to see 16 teams, 12 of which received direct invites to the tournament, whereas the remaining four had to fight their way through their respective regional qualifiers, to prove they are worthy of competing against the elite CS:GO teams in Belek.
The 12 teams who received a direct invite to the tournament are as follows: AVANGAR, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, FURIA, G2, MIBR, mousesports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, North, Renegades and Team Vitality. Joining them will be European qualifiers champions Heroic, Asian qualifiers top two seeds 5Power Gaming, Invictus Gaming and CBCS champions Imperial e-Sports.
Late last week, the organizers revealed the final group draw of the teams, who have been seeded into two groups of eight teams based on their HLTV rating.
Group A: Fnatic, Imperial e-Sports, Renegades, MIBR, Team Vitality, mousesports, North.
Group B: Evil Geniuses, 5Power Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas, FURIA, AVANGAR, Heroic, Natus Vincere, G2 Esports.
The group stage will be held from October 21 to 24 and it will use a double-elimination format with best-of-three (Bo3) series for all fixtures. Once the group stage comes to a close only the top four teams will advance into the next stage. The group winners will receive a direct invite into the upper bracket, whereas the runners-up will advance to the lower bracket of the playoffs. A day after the sun sets on the group stage (25 October), the playoffs will begin, where the same double-elimination format will be used throughout, with all fixtures played in best-of-three (Bo3) series.
Now that we have covered the basics about the tournament, the dates, formats and the teams which will battle it out for the lion's share of US$500,000, it's time to look over the teams, their strengths, weaknesses and in the end, give our predictions on how do we believe the teams will perform in Turkey.
With 16 teams present at the tournament, we will only turn our focus to the four favourites, considering there is a massive gap between the top four teams and the remaining 12. While it's easy to praise all the teams who earned their spot at StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8, it's hard to imagine 5Power, Invictus Gaming, Imperial and Heroic to do any serious damage here. That being said, we feel the same about G2, North, MIBR, Renegades, AVANGAR, FURIA, mousesports and NiP. The reason being that most of those teams are currently in a bad spot form-wise, some of which even suffer from internal turmoil, with new and departing team members. And even if none of the mentioned teams suffered from any kind of internal turmoil, their overall quality can hardly match the quality of Fnatic, Team Vitality, NaVi and Evil Geniuses, who are the rightfully the four favourites and the teams we believe are the only four that have a realistic chance to claim the throne.
Starting off with Fnatic, the Swedish outfit have been revitalized with the re-signing of flusha and Golden in mid-September. With a "new" team which closely resembles the roster Fnatic used during their "golden age", the Swedish outfit went on to win DreamHack Masters Malmö 2019 in a dominant fashion, dismantling NiP (2-1), Astralis (2-0) and Team Vitality (2-1) in the grand finals, suggesting they are back and ready to compete at the highest level. Most recently, Fnatic also finished runners-up at ESPL Pro League S10 - Europe, where they had to admit defeat to Astralis (0-2) in the grand finals. And while they can't be too happy with that result, it's easy to praise them for their improvement and their return to the CS:GO elite.
Another team that we need to mention here are Team Vitality, who are priced as third favourites to claim the largest slice of US$500,000 prize pool and we have our doubts with that. Team Vitality have some very talented individuals in their roster, however, their results hardly reflect that. The biggest problem we have with them is their inconsistency, which makes them a team that on their best day can defeat anyone, but at are the same time also more than capable of losing against anyone. All in all, until they sort out their consistency, we would advise against betting on them.
Natus Vincere are priced as the second favourites to claim their third StarSeries title, and while we believe they are capable of that feat, we don't exactly know if NaVi will manage to win here. Their performances at BLAST Pro Series: Moscow were just disastrous, seeing how they finished dead last without a single win. At Dreamhack Masters Malmo, NaVi performed better, however not as good as many would have expected them to. All in all, we believe NaVi should have a fairly easy time against weaker opponents, however, once they enter the playoffs, they will have to be on top of their game if they wish to finish deep.
Last but not least, we have Evil Geniuses, who are entering StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8 as the undisputed favourites and we can't argue with that. EG (formerly known as NRG), have got a very strong roster, which is more than capable of competing against the world’s elite CS:GO teams. Looking back at their most recent results, EG severely underperformed at DreamHack Masters Malmo, where they lost to Grayhound (10-16) and mousesports (2-0) which resulted in them finishing 13th-16th. While it's hard to praise them too much for that result, they are still a team that should never be underestimated. If everything clicks in this team, they can easily go on, dominate the competition and claim the title. And with a poor result behind them, we will trust EG they will be eager to bounce back and win something in Turkey.
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