EPL S14: Group B

EPL S14: Group B

New group is ready to go.

Group A has already played its games, as Heroic finished with a flawless “5-0” record and advanced straight to the quarterfinals. And while Team Spirit have disappointed, ENCE Esports proved that they are more than capable of taking down anyone, as they joined Team Vitality in the Round of 12, while Astralis, Spirit and Bad News Bears got eliminated from ESL Pro League Season 14.

Group B was supposed to have a different lineup, but unfortunately, Renegades could not make it due to Australia’s travel restrictions, as they were replaced by forZe. Nonetheless, this is one of the most evenly stacked groups and it is not going to be a surprise, if by the fifth round there will be 2-3 playoff spots in play. 

Main storyline of the entire group is parity. Yes, G2 Esports are one of the best teams in the world, they have finally made a final appearance at IEM Cologne 2021 and seem to be on the verge of breaking to the next level, but will it show in group play and not in playoffs? Other contenders seem to be volatile, as VP performs better on LAN than in online, Complexity made a roster change and have to field “NaToSaphiX” instead of “k0nfig” due to an injury, and OG went from making IEM Summer final to not even making it through the play-in in Cologne. If anything, group B might open a door for either forZe or Sinners to make it to Ro12, as both teams are more than good enough to take 2-3 sets from their opponents.

Teams

G2 Esports (#3 ranked by ESL, 2,25:1 to win the group)

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There was barely any doubt that after adding “NiKo”, the European mix is going to be in contention at nearly every event, but 2021 turned G2 into the stable lineup, which can’t find a way to the championship. Loss to Ninjas in Pyjamas at Flashpoint 3 prevented them from winning the only tournament without CIS teams in attendance, otherwise G2 still is unable to beat Gambit Esports and Natus Vincere.

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Now, however, is the time to make a jump. EPL S14, BLAST Premier Fall, IEM Fall and then PGL Major Stockholm - chances are that Balkan mix wins at least something this year, else 2021 is going to be a disappointment.

Virtus.pro (#7 ranked by ESL, 4,5:1 to win the group)

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forZe (#20 ranked by ESL, 11:1 to win the group)

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CIS region started ESL Pro League Season 14 with six teams in attendance, but Team Spirit have already been eliminated and there is a high chance that at least few more teams follow suit, as groups B and D feature two regional rivals.

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VP are still trying to make a jump to next level, as an experienced ex-AVANGAR core performs the same on average since their peak in 2019, when they got to the Major final and won BLAST in Moscow. Addition of “YEKINDAR” pushed them up for a while, as VP won few events in a row, but once they lost to Gambit Esports in the IEM Katowice grand final, “bears” stopped being scary and will even have to battle during IEM Fall to return to the Major. EPL is a good chance to show that there is more than enough fuel in the tank to repeat what happened in 2020, when Virtus.pro furiously pushed for multiple titles in a row after the player break.

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forZe was the last-minute replacement for Renegades after barely whiffing on a direct spot from ESEA Premier Season 38, which was won by Sinners. Team’s core is no stranger to big events, as their successful run in 2019-first half of 2020 did not feature many titles, but gave them a borderline top-10 spot in world rankings. After making roster changes, forZe got to top-3 at FunSpark ULTI, pushed for EPL spots and skyrocketed into top-5 in RMR standings - if anything, this is a dark horse to make a run to the playoffs.

OG (#13 ranked by ESL, 5:1 to win the group)

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Complexity Gaming (#14 ranked by ESL, 6:1 to win the group)

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It is nearly impossible to predict how either of those two is going to look during the EPL.

OG were nearly stellar during their IEM Summer run, their first non-qualifier with “flameZ” and “niko” in the lineup, but then fumbled at IEM Cologne 2021, when they got eliminated by Renegades in the final round of the play-in. This is still the team which is known to give everybody in the world a run for their money, this is still the same unit, which never plays Vertigo, so it remains to be seen if Ancient pick is ready and waiting for them and their opponents.

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Complexity Gaming not only underperformed since the departure of “oBo” and superstar “jks” joining the lineup, but are now left without “k0nfig”, who injured his wrist and expected to sit for at least 5-6 weeks and miss both EPL S14 and BLAST Premier Fall. Now with “es3tag” and “NaToSaphiX” in the roster, it’s on the shoulders of “blameF”, “jks” and “poizon” to provide a big enough boost for an insanely talented squad to survive through this grueling stretch of events.

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Sinners Esports (#29 ranked by ESL, 17,5:1 to win the group)

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Now that is a good story of the entire event. Many said that “oskar” was washed once he left mousesports by the end of 2019, many said that leaving Sprout for a relatively unknown team from Czech Republic was a mistake, but now it’s all in the past. Sinners Esports became the first ever team representing Czechia to play at the event of such caliber and it is their star AWPer, who is leading the charge.

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Sinners can play every map in the pool, they are skilled, creative and hungry for success - winning ESEA Premier Season 38 was the beginning, now it’s time to keep winning on an entirely different level, such as ESL Pro League Season 14.

Predictions

G2 Esports should have enough to push themselves into the first spot, as “NiKo” was absurdly hot at IEM Cologne 2021, while “huNter-” and crew can provide a boost when necessary.

Picking two out of the remaining five is nigh impossible, however, but OG look to be a good bet to make it to Ro12, as “Aleksib” led teams are known to bounce back after lackluster events. Sinners and forZe will ultimately fall short, so it is likely going to come down to the VP and Complexity, repeat of the game, which CIS team stole in Cologne and then made playoffs few days later. 

This time it is going to go the other way, as Complexity Gaming will advance to the Ro12 even with all their roster issues.

Have another opinion? Post it in the comments section and let’s watch the best CS:GO in the world, especially on the day when the game turned nine years old!