The first two ESL Pro League groups are now in the rearview mirror, with Heroic topping Group A and securing a spot in the Play-in, which gives access to the semi-finals, while Complexity came in second and FunPlus Phoenix edged past OG on the final day of play to take the third and final spot in the bracket stage of the tournament.
In Group B it was NIP who came in first and earned a berth in the Play-in, having ended the group stage with a 4-1 record. The Swedes were followed by ENCE and G2, two teams that had secured playoff spots ahead of the last matchday.
Group C kicks off on Friday with two CIS teams, Natus Vincere and Gambit, as the favorites to fight for the top spot in the group, although FURIA, who have had some time to accommodate Paytyn “junior” Johnson to the roster, will hope to go toe-to-toe with the top dogs to make the next phase of the tournament. Also fighting in the group will be Cloud9, who have had a lukewarm year so far, as well as two more Brazilian squads that will be looking to cause upsets, MIBR and TeamOne.
The last group, Group D, is the more competitive of the two, with three top-five teams in the form of Astralis, Liquid and Virtus.pro, who will be joined by Evil Geniuses, fnatic and Endpoint. Here are some of the storylines to keep an eye on as the last two groups are about to start:
Gambit, VP look to cement their place among the elite
Gambit enjoyed a meteoric rise in February, becoming the surprise champions of IEM Katowice after knocking out mousesports, G2 and Heroic in the group stage as well as their three biggest regional rivals, Natus Vincere, Spirit and Virtus.pro, in the playoffs. Having jumped 15 spots in the rankings, the young Russian roster will no longer be seen as an underdog and will surely be watched closely by their rivals. The team has no lack of ambition after taking off, however, as Gambit CEO and interim coach Konstantin “groove” Pikiner says that the goal is “to establish ourselves in the top five” in 2021.
Luckily for Gambit, several upsets would have to take place for them not to make it out of the group stage, as they have been placed into the tamer Group C, where they will face only one other top-five side, Natus Vincere, and a field of teams outside of the top 10, which should at least allow them to make the playoffs of another important event, and perhaps even with a good seeding going into the knockout stages.
Virtus.pro have not made the same steep climb as Gambit as they were already slowly but surely making their way back to the top positions in the ranking after a fall in late 2020. Dastan “dastan” Akbayev’s men have now equaled their best position in the team ranking, No.3, this time off the back of a victory in cs_summit 7 and a grand final appearance in IEM Katowice, in which Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis had a stellar performance.
Now one of the hottest names going into ESL Pro League, Virtus.pro will have a harder time in the group stage than Gambit as they will be fighting two other top-five teams in Group D, Astralis and Liquid, who will be hungry to get revenge on Dzhami “Jame” Ali and company after falling to them in their previous clashes in IEM Katowice.
NAVI, Astralis out to impose their will
Natus Vincere and Astralis sit in the top two positions in the team ranking with fewer than 15 points separating the two squads, who have swapped positions at the top twice in the last month. The CIS and the Danish outfits headline their respective Pro League groups and will both be eager to hit the ground running to try and better their 5-6th place finishes from IEM Katowice.
Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy’s men will go first, in Group C, hoping to build on what has so far been a solid start to the year. They began 2021 by winning the title in the BLAST Premier Global Final, in which they lost to Liquid in the opening match before going on a tear and beating all opposition, including Astralis in the grand final, and they then followed it up with a 3-0 record in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups to secure a spot in the season finals.
Their IEM Katowice campaign began seamlessly as well, with two early wins against Virtus.pro and FURIA, but then they lost to Liquid in the final group stage match and were knocked out by Gambit in the quarter-finals. NAVI will be relishing the chance to take revenge on the young CIS team in the Pro League group stage when they face off on March 21.
Astralis started off the year with a second place in the aforementioned BLAST Premier Global Final but struggled in their next two tournaments, the first of which was the BLAST Premier Spring Groups, in which they suffered losses to NIP and BIG. The Danes then had a similar run to that of Natus Vincere in IEM Katowice, in which they came in 5-6th place after losing the final group stage match to Spirit and their quarter-final bout to Virtus.pro, a team they will have a chance to get even with in Group D.
Astralis will have to go up against a stronger set of teams than Natus Vincere in the group stage as they will have to face two elite sides as well as a couple of teams that could turn up and surprise on any given day in fnatic and Evil Geniuses, with only Endpoint as the big underdogs. Despite that, the Danes are one of the top contenders to take Group D, if not the very favorites, and will be relying on their strong foundations to shine through in the round-robin stage to earn the right to compete in the Play-in for a spot in the tournament’s semi-finals.
Can the North Americans show up big in Group D?
Evil Geniuses are coming into ESL Pro League with a new look after Ethan “Ethan” Arnold made a move to VALORANT and Owen “oBo” Schlatter was brought in to take his place. The 17-year-old had been without a team since departing Complexity during the previous season of Pro League last September, so his current form is unknown, but he had no lack of strong showings during his time with the Dallas-based organisation, and if he can play up to that standard it could go a long way in helping EG perform after they lost a star player.
Following a group stage exit in IEM Katowice, Evil Geniuses will be hoping that the new roster will be able to put forth a solid effort to be in the running to make the next stage of competition, although it will be a tall order as they share the group with three top-five teams, Astralis, Liquid and Virtus.pro.
Liquid, one of the three favourites to make it out of Group D alive, will have much to prove after a 3rd-4th place finish in DreamHack Open North America, a tournament they were meant to win but in which they went out in the semi-finals after a surprise defeat to paiN. That result does have a caveat as Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo had to play from Europe due to visa issues, and it is possible that the players simply weren’t as focused during the small stateside event as they normally are when competing together from their training facility in Utrecht.
Be as it may, there are only two North American squads in ESL Pro League and they have both been placed in Group D, where they will have to prove themselves to make sure that the region is represented in the playoffs. Evil Geniuses will want to show up and give a good account of themselves after losing one of their longest-standing members, while Liquid will want to prove that their DreamHack Open disaster was just a bump in the road and that they are back in business to follow up on their IEM Katowice semi-final run with another strong showing on European soil.
Brazilians to brawl in Group C
FURIA, TeamOne and MIBR have all been seeded into Group C, but only Andrei “arT” Piovezan‘s side are tipped to contend for a playoff spot in a group that also has world No.1 Natus Vincere and IEM Katowice champions Gambit.
FURIA will be looking at ESL Pro League as a chance to pick up the pace in a year that has so far been quite slow for them as they finished cs_summit in 5-8th place and IEM Katowice in 7-8th. A bright note from the latter event was the incorporation of junior, who proved his worth in the team’s victories against NIP and FaZe, showing that he can synergize with the Brazilian squad. Having now had more time to adjust after adding the North American sniper to their ranks, FURIA could prove to be an admirable opponent in the fight for a top-three finish in the group stage.
MIBR and TeamOne have had a rougher time in their European escapades, with no outstanding tournament placements to date, although out of the two, MIBR have managed to squeeze in a few upsets, taking a 2-1 win against FaZe in cs_summit 7 and a 2-0 success against fnatic in the IEM Katowice Play-In. Gustavo “yel” Knittel‘s side shouldn’t be written off, although they will be fighting against a field that is stronger on paper, with the exception of TeamOne, and the round-robin format tends to lessen the impact of upsets.
Will fnatic contend for a playoff spot ?
fnatic got off to a flying start right after signing Jack “Jackinho” Ström Mattsson at the beginning of the year, reaching the grand final in their first event, cs_summit 7. Even though the tournament wasn’t incredibly stacked, the Swedes still had to beat Complexity, OG, Cloud9 and Heroic to make it to the tournament decider, in which they lost to the red-hot Virtus.pro.
The big disappointment came in their following tournament, the IEM Katowice Play-In, in which the team fell to OG in the opening best-of-one before slipping big time in the lower bracket, losing a two-map series to MIBR without showing much brilliance. fnatic‘s fans will hope that the team have had enough time to work out some of their kinks in order to become a strong contestant in a group that should be tricky to navigate.
CS:GO Navi Chooses “b1t” For Their Five-man Lineup At RMR Tournaments
Egor “flamie” Vasilev will be left out of RMR tournaments and DreamHack Masters Spring 2021.
Natus Vincere will be performing at the upcoming RMR tournaments with a change in its roster, due to the player-change penalty rules established by Valve. The team has announced through Twitter that they are moving away from the six-man roster approach to adhere to Valve’s new rules. Because of this, Egor “flamie” Vasilev will be left out of their roster for the upcoming RMR (Regional Major Ranking) tournaments and DreamHack Masters Spring 2021. On the other hand, Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy will hold a permanent position on the team.
The five-man roster of NAVI CS:GO for the first RMR tournament is settled: get all the details.
— NAVI (@natusvincere) April 11, 2021
Flamie out, B1t in
Due to Valve rules stipulating penalties for using substitute players, NaVi’s rotating six-player roster was put in question. A team found in violation has to undergo a compounding penalty of 20% of the points earned at the event if they substitute at least one player during the tournament. In response, Na’Vi has said “Valve made it clear that they do not intend to change the rules. Na’Vi needs as many points as possible to qualify for the Major. In this regard, the team had to coordinate the final roster for the next tournament to avoid penalty points.”
Na’Vi will prepare for their upcoming challenges at a boot camp in Kyiv, Ukraine, from April 11-24. DreamHack Masters Spring, their first focus, will be held between April 29 and May 9. The later CIS RMR tournament is expected to take place in May, around the same time as the European and the North American tournaments. “Despite this, DreamHack is still an important tournament for NAVI,” the organization noted.
The decision to opt for b1t over flamie was not explained in detail. But the team’s coach, Andrii “B1ad3” Gorodenskyi, will be providing clarification in a YouTube video to be posted “next week.”
NaVi roster for DreamHack Spring:
- Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev
- Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov
- Ilya ‘Perfecto‘ Zalutskiy
- Kirill ‘BoombI4‘ Mikhailov
- Valeriy ‘b1t‘ Vakhovskiy
- Andrii ‘B1ad3‘ Gorodenskyi (coach)
Twitch bans Adin Ross after ZIAS uses Homophobic slurs during his stream
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Adin Ross is a popular Twitch streamer and YouTuber who is known for playing Grand Theft Auto: Online RP & NBA 2K during his streams, having over 600,000+ followers on the platform. However, he has been under the spotlight recently due to various controversial events surrounding his streams and personal life. Just recently his channel fell victim to trolls who were using bots to follow his channel which resulted in his follower count going over 4 million followers.
Adin was streaming alongside ZIAS!, a famous YouTuber who is known for reacting to music videos and vlogging. During the stream, Zias answered a phone call and called Adin a “f*ggot” while he was reportedly away from his room.
Adin immediately contacted a Twitch mod who said “it’s fine” to continue the stream as Adin was not the one who used the derogatory term, yet he was banned immediately while freestyling in front of 83,000 viewers. This isn’t the first time his channel was banned as he was previously banned for a week on June 8 2020 due to an unknown reason.
His followers started the ‘#FreeAdin’ movement to clear his ban as they claim that it was unfair. Adin later tweeted the hashtag, stating “Free Adin #freeadin. Mfs don’t wanna see me win. All G tho… let’s hope it’s not a perm.”
It is unclear how long his suspension will last as it could be another week-long ban or even last up to 3 days.
CoD: Players Call For Warzone HUD Update In Season 3
Teamwork in Warzone can be hard, but this Reddit user may have solved all our problems.
It’s been just over a year since the release of Warzone, and while many players team up with a regular squad, some like to play with randoms online. In both scenarios, communication between your team can be hard, and Warzone’s UI does nothing to help that.
Well, Reddit user Abood_Abuoaid has created a new mockup for the Warzone UI, showing each player’s scorestreaks, plates, gas mask, etc.
With over 5.5k Upvotes at the time of writing, this has proved to be very popular, with many players calling for the update to come soon. Warzone already shows if players have self revive, so adding the other icons shouldn’t be too much hassle for the developers.
This little addition to the Warzone UI would change the game drastically. Teamwork would be much easier, and the leader of the squad who’s always checking up on their teammates’ plate/UAV situation wouldn’t have to keep asking.
If we see this update, it’s likely to come with the Warzone map change that is rumored to happen soon. With a move to a Black Ops Cold War-themed Verdansk, many players will be excited to see what arrives in the coming months.
Top World of Warcraft teams clash in the AWC Shadowlands Circuit
Throughout April 10, the top World of Warcraft teams continued to duke it out in the Arena World Championship Shadowlands Circuit. A place in the Season 1 Finals was at stake.
Arena World Championship Shadowlands Circuit Europe
Day 1 of the third week of round-robin matches began with games between Creed and Tegridy Damp in the Nagrand Arena. Creed won the first game and followed that up with two more victories.
Tegridy Damp tried to land a Freezing Trap for crowd control, but it was to no avail as the opposing team’s Demon Hunter landed The Hunt and helped end the third game.
In the games between Blast Wave Bros and Ad Hoc Gaming, the latter team took the series with a quick 3-0. Against their opponent’s they played in the Nagrand Arena, Dalaran Sewers and Tiger’s Peak.
When Skill Capped faced Reload Esports, the first team was victorious in the Nagrand Arena. However, Reload Esports tied the score 1-1 at Hook Point. The third game took place in Empyrean Domain and had a nail-biting end, with Skill Capped earning another win.
— WoW Esports (@WoWEsports) April 10, 2021
Reload Esports had to win the next game, but the Dalaran Sewers arena went to their opponents. Meanwhile, the Method EU versus Cowana Gaming games were intense as both teams had a score of 2-2. Method EU won the fifth game in Empyrean Domain. This victory closed out the third week of Europe’s Arena World Championship games.
Arena World Championship Shadowlands Circuit North America
Over in the other region, the first round of games began with Unitas versus Cloud9. The latter team fought against their opponents in the Nagrand Arena, Ashamane’s Fall and Hook Point. They obtained victory with three consecutive wins.
World of Warcraft team Hamsters & Hares then clashed against OTK. While Hamsters & Hares earned a win in the first game, OTK tied the score 1-1 in the next arena.
Hamsters & Hares succumbing to @OTKnetwork in this second game, bringing this series to a tie and we’re moving onto GAME THREE!
— WoW Esports (@WoWEsports) April 10, 2021
OTK continued to turn the games around in the following two games, earning a score of 3-1.
The final game of the day came down to Method NA versus the Golden Guardians. Although the latter team fought valiantly in three different arenas, Method NA closed it out with a score of 3-0.
The first season of the Arena World Championship Shadowlands Circuit consists of four weekends. Once completed, each region’s top four World of Warcraft teams will head into the Season 1 Finals.
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