The ELEAGUE Major is currently underway. The group stage hasn’t wrapped up yet, but we’ve already had some surprises. North was seen as a possible contender coming into the tournament and HellRaisers were expected to clear the group stage. Neither of these visions have exactly panned out–HellRaisers were eliminated on Day 3, and North are still fighting for their tournament lives. Astralis and OpTic Gaming both look shaky despite being considered favorites going in. Despite these let downs, some teams have been positives surprises and it looks like they may have been underestimated.
Na‘Vi Coming in Hot
The last time we saw Natus Vincere before the major, they were in horrendous form. After an impressive run to victory at ESL One: New York, Na’Vi failed to move past the group stage at ELEAGUE season 2 and IEM Oakland. While Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev was arguably the best player, the team was struggling to find a balance and losing games left and right.
After nearly two months off, Navi came into this major in much better form. So far their two victories have come over mousesports and EnVyUs, not the toughest competition. However, both wins were blowouts and Navi completely dominated their opposition. It looks like the time off might have paid off for them. Their map pool is still a big question mark, but it seems that Navi have definitely figured out the CT side of cobblestone.
Navi only needs one more win to get into the bracket stage. Whether it comes in their next game against SK Gaming will show just how much better Navi has gotten. Starting off 2-0 almost guarantees Navi gets into the playoffs and with such a star studded lineup, it would only take one other player to get hot and team up with s1mple for a run to the finals.
A Formidable FaZe Clan
FaZe may be 1-1 after two games, but the two games have been impressive. After months of underwhelming finishes where they repeatedly failed to make it out of group stages, FaZe made the move to add Finn “karrigan” Andersen as in-game leader. This move as well as the removal of Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad for Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey sparked a change for FaZe. They made it to the semifinals of IEM Oakland where they went 5-0 in the group stage and got a bye through the quarterfinals. They followed this with another semifinal finish at ELEAGUE season 2 where they upset season 1 champs Virtus.pro in the quarters.
At the major, FaZe have faced off against FlipSid3 Tactics and SK Gaming, two teams well-known for their tactics and strategy. They handled F3 well and took SK to overtime in a close loss. Much like Navi, there is a ton of skill on FaZe and with karrigan’s leading, it would only take a couple of them to be in form for them to be very dangerous if they get into bracket play.
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Gambit Gaming going 2-0 was a huge shock while OpTic and North going 0-2 was a major disappointment. It looked like the major choking was coming early for Astralis when they lost their first game to GODSENT and the middle of the pack is all over the place. There is no telling who will win this major, but Na’Vi and FaZe have as good a chance as any.