It’s time for the knockout stages of TBS’ ELEAGUE. Five teams qualified after winning their groups: Ninjas in Pyjamas, Astralis, Fnatic, Natus Vincere and Team EnVyUs. Virtus.pro and Mousesports join them after coming through the last chance qualifier. Somewhat controversially, Cloud9 replaced ex-Luminosity. The best in the world Brazilians were disqualified following their transfer to SK Gaming, leaving the American roster as the winners of Group A by default.
Each side has locked up $50,000 so far, and there’s a lot more on the line, with the winners taking home $390,000. That’s not mentioning the TV time available to the teams who are featured on TBS.
It’s worth noting that a coin flip decides who gets to ban first, and a knife round is used to determine sides on all maps.
EnVyUs (14/5, 3.80 Betway) vs Fnatic (11/50, 1.22 Betway)
Two hugely underperforming sides go head to head in the first match, although on paper Fnatic appear to be doing much better than the French. They slunk to a top four placing at the major however this only came about by winning a best of three against FaZe, an over-hyped side who they’d previously lost to, and Gambit, who are not a tier one team, although we do need to give them some credit for beating G2. They put up a fight against Liquid but their main issue that could cost them this match is inconsistency.
Following his injury, there is no doubt that Olofmeister is no longer the world’s best player. The question now has to look towards where he fits in to this team if they are going to be the best in the world again. Were it not for his demolition of Gambit, he would’ve recorded a sub-1.00 rating at the Major. Combined with JW, who can no longer be considered as a world class AWPer after 0.97 and 0.99 ratings at ESL ONE and ELEAGUE respectively, it means that there is a chance Fnatic does not show up.
Fortunately EnVy are in even more than a mess than Fnatic. DEVIL will almost certainly be removed from the roster after ELEAGUE finishes. His disastrous professional career where he is yet to go through an event positive will almost certainly be put to an end. How that plays out in this match will be interesting – has he given up, or will he be angling for a place in LDLC? Likely, the impending change won’t matter too much and he’ll put in a performance on par with his recent efforts.
More pleasingly for EnVy is that their star player, KennyS, matches up extremely well with Fnatic. KennyS has recorded ratings of 1.17 / 1.27 respectively in ESL ONE and ELEAGUE so far, and can be expected to get the most of any duels with JW. Whether EnVyUs can exploit this will be critical to the result. If KennyS is able to work T-side openings, the 5v4 situation forcing rotations will suit Happy’s lurk-only style. It will force slower rotations which may compensate for the lack of firepower against Fnatic’s riflers. EnVy will need apEX to step up to counter this. However, Fnatic have a far superior pistol round record thanks in no small part to Dennis, which will make it more taxing for EnVy to get the AWP rolling early on given their propensity for force buying.
The initial bans are straightforward: EnVyUs will remove Overpass as they do in every fixture. Fnatic will remove what appears to be their new perma-ban, Nuke. This leaves a five map pool of Train, Cobble, Cache, Mirage and Dust2.
Fnatic are known for liking Mirage and beat EnVy 16-8 on it when they last met around ten weeks’ ago with Wenton playing rather than Olof. It’s a safe pick that Fnatic are heavily favoured on. The curveball would be if Fnatic were to pick Cobblestone, where both sides are inconsistent but is a map where their riflers should shine.
EnVy picked Cache against Fnatic that day, losing 16-14, and picked Cache when they beat VP in ELEAGUE. They did avoid it against Mousesports at the major, choosing to leave Dust2 in the pool. Fnatic’s Cache form is better than on Dust2, where they’ve recently lost to FaZe and G2, and only just beat Cloud9. EnVy haven’t played the map a lot either, but did beat Gambit who were impressive on it at ESL One. Given that they are the underdog, a Dust2 pick seems likely from EnVy given it’s AWP heavy nature gives them the chance to take control of the map, more so than on Cache.
EnVy were happy to play Train at ESL ONE even though they lost to Liquid and Mousesports, and Fnatic have recently beaten the latter side as well as Gambit and G2 on the map. However, given the Swedes’ stronger riflers, EnVy should remove Cobblestone or Mirage, depending on which Fnatic pick. Fnatic are likely to prefer Cache to Train.
You have to fancy Fnatic to cover the -4.5 round spread on Mirage at around evens if it is chosen, whilst if EnVy choose Dust2, prices of around 7/4 to win the map and 4/5 +4.5 rounds are more than fair.
The maps have been released whilst writing these predictions: Cobble, Dust2, Cache. We’d make EnVy just short of 5/2 to win the match on these maps, so they’re a bet at the widely available 11/4. Map winner prices of 7/4 or above, particularly on Dust2, are also worth backing.
EnVyUs to beat Fnatic with Betway at 14/5 (3.80)
EnVyUs to win map 1 with Betway at 39/20 (2.95)
EnVyUs to win map 2 with Betway at 39/20 (2.95)
EnVyUs +4.5 rounds on map 2 with Betway at 9/10 (1.90)