EPL S14: Group A

EPL S14: Group A

EPL S14 Group A.

2021 season is going to resume on Monday and what better way to start than with arguably the biggest event in CS:GO outside of the Major - ESL Pro League. Fnatic, LG/SK, Cloud9, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, Astralis, mousesports, Heroic - eight teams won previous thirteen editions but it’s all about the present.

Past does not matter anymore, as it is all about 24 teams, who will participate in the upcoming tournament and battle for the coveted championship.

First five days will feature group A - four European teams, one each from CIS and North America, but only three will advance to the playoffs, with group winner going straight to the quarterfinals. 

Main storylines of the group

The reigning champions are back: Heroic secured the title at EPL Season 13 after a monstrous best of five against Gambit Esports. Many still remember that game as a “cadiaN 1v4 legendary clutch” but even getting to fifth map required multiple overtimes on both Inferno and Train to force it. Since winning EPL, Heroic fumbled at multiple events, fired their head coach due to a lack of trust and now need a big performance to push themselves back into contention for world number one.

Online once again: after IEM Cologne was played on LAN, COVID once again decided to stop all the fun. That looks like a big advantage for the likes of Heroic and ENCE, but for Astralis, especially, online was never the best of places, especially after “device” leaving for NiP earlier this year.

Can another CIS powerhouse emerge: Spirit after “degster” transfer started the year really strong, winning DreamHack Open and finishing in top-4 at IEM Katowice, but struggled to find results after that. A lot of close losses but a lack of playoff berths - is it the time?

Back on track: Team Vitality showed signs of life at IEM Cologne, but with ZywOo in the lineup, the expectations are always sky high. If there was a moment for the French team to make the playoffs and get back to title contention, it’s here.

Welcome home: junior spent a majority of the year in FURIA Esports, but lost all the confidence despite the Brazilian team success. This loan to Bad News Bears might be the change of scenery needed for the young talent to get back in form.

Teams

ESL ranking: 4th
EPL S13 result: winners
Betting nugget: 14:1 to win EPL S14

After adding “refrezh” and “sjuush” to the lineup, Heroic managed to win EPL S13, come agonizingly close to beating Gambit to qualify for the BLAST Spring finals (event, which Gambit won with relative ease), get few more top-3 finishes, but stumbled before the player break, as neither IEM Summer or IEM Cologne were successful by their standards. Some of the underperformance can be linked to the coaching drama, but with team of this caliber you have to expect them to bounce back.

That's how success looks like
That's how success looks like

stavn and TeSeS are stars, cadiaN is a heart of the team, while newest additions are capable of taking over any map - Heroic are scary as it gets, especially after a break.

And that's what can't happen during EPL
And that's what can't happen during EPL

Heroic’s versatility, talent and ability to lock maps down on defence would’ve been more than enough to pick them to finish in top-3, even if event was not played online. Now they should be considered a favourite to win the group, advance to the quarterfinals and compete for the second title in a row.

ESL ranking: 5th
EPL S13 result:5th-6th
Betting nugget:10:1 to win EPL S14

After losing to FURIA Esports during the last EPL season, “device” left the team, but Astralis still showed in Cologne, that they are far from being a pushover. However, with all the rumours about mass exodus and “Lucky” joining the legendary team, it remains to be seen if they can keep up online.

Not an Astralis statline
Not an Astralis statline

EPL S14 should turn into a “Bubzkji” show, as he might become the brightest start of new Astralis era - and keep the team in contention.

Need more Cologne than Summer
Need more Cologne than Summer

It is very hard to go against Astralis, even with gla1ve’s paternity coming up, new AWPer and event being played online. First match against Team Spirit will essentially be the decider - if Danes can survive, they should be able to advance, if not, then it might be time to start preparing for the BLAST Premier Fall.

ESL ranking: 10th
EPL S13 result:13th-16th
Betting nugget: 15:1 to win EPL S14

2021 was rough for Vitality, as Valve have not only erased the vast majority of their RMR success in 2020, but have essentially removed the expanded lineups from the game. While “Kyojin” is getting more and more filling the gap which “RpK” has left behind, the timetable for this team is getting awkward - “Kyojin”, “misutaaa” and, of course, “ZywOo” are young, but “apEX” and “shox”’s best days are likely over. So it is now or never for this iteration.

Getting close to contending once again
Getting close to contending once again

When you have arguably the best player in the world on your team, you can’t expect to struggle for too long. Vitality’s map pool still does not inflict too much confidence even if Train is now removed, but a top-3 finish in the group should not be an issue, unless something went really wrong during the break.

Team Spirit

ESL ranking: 12th
EPL S13 result:n/a
Betting nugget:19:1 to win EPL S14

In any other year, what Team Spirit have managed to achieve in 2021, would’ve been considered a success. However, when Gambit, NAVI and VP are ranked in top-5 and there are six CIS teams playing in ESL Pro League Season 14, that’s where you have to wonder if Spirit can fully realize their potentialSuc

Success?
Success?

Level of talent, spearheaded by “mir” and “degster”, creativity and pedigree - if Team Spirit learned how to finish close maps, they are a sneaky dark horse to not only make playoffs, but win the entire thing.

No breaks for Spirit's fans
No breaks for Spirit's fans

Spirit’s games against Heroic and Vitality always come down to the wire, while they have beaten Astralis in the past - unless there is an absolutely atrocious showing against Danish teams in the first two matches, Spirit should be making top-3 to progress in the event.

ENCE Esports

ESL ranking: 22nd
EPL S13 result: 9th-12th
Betting nugget:37,5:1 to win EPL S14

ENCE managed to get “hades” from Wisla Krakow, which might end up being the biggest bargain of the year, but talented lineup has not impressed against the best teams since their dramatic collapse against Virtus.pro during EPL S13. If anyone still remembers, ENCE led “15-3” in the decider map, but somehow managed to let it all slip away - if they can make a next step, then this lineup can be way better than a stable top-20 team.

Need to repeat that
Need to repeat that

ENCE surprised most by advancing to the playoffs last time, but this time it might be too much. If Finnish team can squeak past ZywOo’s Vitality in the opener, there is a chance, but if not, then hungry Spirit, online Heroic and experienced Astralis are going to close the door really quick.

ESL ranking: 21st
EPL S13 result:n/a
Betting nugget:123:1 to win EPL S14

As North American scene keeps losing ground to VALORANT, Bad News Bears are a top-5 NA team - and a top-3 at EPL S14, as Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses will start their campaigns later. This is an experienced unit, but the key is how “junior” adapts - yes, he played with the core of BNB during his days in Triumph, but this is a way better opposition than what they’ve met in the past. 

Can't have the same during EPL S14
Can't have the same during EPL S14

If “junior” can return to his pre-FURIA Esports form, then bears might have bad news for 1-2 teams, but a playoff berth is likely out of their reach.

ESL Pro League Season 14 Group A will begin on August 16th, and you can follow all the news, schedule and results on our site! This is the key stretch of the year - no time to miss anything!