Aug 31 2016 - 3:45 pm

ESL Pro League Season 4 NA Power Rankings - Week 2

Sunday marked the end of the second week of ESL Pro League Season 4, which saw five teams join the fray in North America. At the end of every roundup of matches, I will attempt to rank the teams trending up and teams on the decline as I see fit.
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It wasn’t always pretty and above all, it was chaotic, but we saw some bright play from several new teams with revamped rosters and also got a better glimpse of the teams from week one. It should be noted that teams who participated in week one will get much less coverage compared to teams who played their very first fixtures of the season. Other than that, enjoy (or hate it).


1. Cloud9 – 10-0 (-) [2-0 vs. coL, 2-0 vs. CLG]

This week was smooth sailing for Cloud9, who swept through their opposition cleanly for the second week running. Last week, we got to see the honeymoon period begin with Timothy “autimatic" Ta putting in stellar performances in his first official matches with the team, but this week it was Jake “Stewie2k” Yip who reminded us who runs the show here. In the team’s first map of the week, a 16-9 win on Overpass against compLexity, he carved out a ridiculous statline of 33-8-17 with a monstrous 142.5 ADR. He then proceeded to top frag in C9’s following two wins. Liquid still have yet to reach their peak potential with this new lineup and SK Gaming will not feature until week three, but with the form every player is showing right now, C9 are comfortably cementing themselves as a top three team in the region.


2. Liquid – 4-4 (+1) [2-0 vs. WFX]

An awkward exchange of ranks here, as Liquid only played Winterfox while Echo Fox were inactive this week. Still, I think Liquid’s 2-0 over the Australian new boys is enough to put them over Echo Fox. Stellar performances from Josh “jdm” Marzano and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski (24 kills each) saw them pull off a narrow 16-14 win on Dust 2, and it was EliGE again who helped Liquid to victory on Mirage where he dropped a 30 bomb with a 128.9 ADR. One could argue that Liquid overtaking Echo Fox is unfair on the basis of both team’s records, but really Echo Fox’s 6-0 start should be seen as inflated due to who they played in week one, and realistically, Liquid have much more talent. If Liquid import Jacob “Pimp” Winneche can stabilize his form, Liquid can only get better from here.


3. Echo Fox – 6-0 (-1) [inactive]

Not much to say here: Echo Fox got the week off while the rest of NA scrapped with each other. That being said, the performances of OpTic Gaming and Immortals should leave them humbled because they could be overtaken in the blink of an eye. Week six may be their breaking point against SK Gaming, Cloud9, and OpTic Gaming.


4. OpTic Gaming – 5-5 (+1) [2-0 vs. eUnited, 1-1 vs. RNG]

Based on last week’s performances, Immortals just edged out OpTic for No. 4 because I felt like their highs were more telling than OpTic’s highs. This week, OpTic gave us much more to scratch our chins at following the addition of Tarik “tarik" Celik. While Immortals were upset by eUnited, OpTic dispatched them with ease (16-2 on Mirage, 16-12 on Cache) and probably would have doubled up Renegades had it not been for some ridiculous performances from the Australians. tarik is still struggling to fit into the team but he’ll have a lot more time if Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas continues to perform as well as he does, dropping 20+ kills in all four of OpTic’s maps this week.


5. Immortals – 8-4 (-1) [1-1 vs. eUnited, 2-0 vs. Splyce, 2-0 vs. NRG]

As I said before, in week one, Immortals’ highs were much more telling than OpTic’s highs. This week, it was their lows that determined their ranking. Dropping down a spot is admittedly harsh on a team that stomped two of NA’s better rosters on paper, but the loss to eUnited, on Dust 2 as well, will be a blight on their record for some time. It was also a low for designated AWPer Henrique “HEN1” Teles who managed a meager seven kills in the team’s loss to eUnited; couple this with his disastrous Dust 2 against Cloud9 where he somehow managed just three kills, and HEN1 did not have a good week. As I said after week one, this team is explosive when they are in form, but again, the only thing that matters in league play is consistency. Assuming they don’t face any more pitfalls, we’ll learn this team’s true identity when they face OpTic Gaming in week five and SK Gaming in week six. Assuming.


6. compLexity – 2-6 (-1) [1-1 vs. Splyce, 0-2 vs. Cloud9]

I called out Shawn “witmer” Taylor and Kia “Surreal” Man for their awful runs of form under the coL banner, and witmer only added more fuel to that fire, bottom fragging in three of the team’s four maps in week two. On the other hand, Surreal showed that he can have an occasional impact, dropping 31 frags against the new-look Splyce on Overpass, but to no avail as they fell just short at 16-14. He took the initiative again on Cobblestone, carrying the black & red team to a 16-11 victory, ending the game at 27-2-10. Surreal was a perfect foil for the team this week; they have moments, but more often than not, they look flat. Their biggest crime this week was leading Cloud9 after one half on Overpass, winning eight rounds on the T side but only winning one as the CT side. If this is their lineup going forward, I can’t see them having any impact on this season.


7. Renegades – 1-1 (new) [1-1 vs. OpTic]

Following the retirement of beloved Australian legend Chad “SPUNJ” Burchill, Renegades picked up Ricky “Rickeh” Mulholland from compatriots Team Immunity. As someone with little knowledge of the Australian CS scene, I didn’t even blink at the move, nor did I think that Renegades, even retaining their core roster, would be able to tango with some of the talent in Pro League this season. If this first series against OpTic is anything to judge them by, then they may just have their say in determining who makes the playoffs, even if they don’t actually make it themselves.

Rickeh wasted no time introducing himself to the Pro League, racking up 28 kills — 17 of them on the big green gun — and boasting a 102.0 ADR in the Australians’ narrow 16-13 loss on Cache. It was a display more than worthy of the Pro League, especially going up against one of NA’s other hot stars, mixwell. He showed up again on Mirage, grabbing 25 frags, 19 on the AWP, but on this day, the server belonged to Aaron “AZR” Ward. A 34-6-21 performance with an ADR of 120.4 was more than enough to push Renegades over the finish line, as they defeated the Green Wall 16-12.

The Australian side has never quite been able to recapture the glory of ESL Cologne 2015, where they famously upset Titan, but this is a promising start to Season 4. Like Immortals, Renegades have shown that their highs are nothing to scuff at. Something in me wants to say this is more than just a flash in the pan, especially when you consider that everybody in this roster has attended a major (Rickeh also attended Cologne ’15 with Immunity). This team has the experience and, clearly, still has the talent to go head-to-head with some of NA’s best offerings. Whether this is a genuine marriage or just another honeymoon period remains to be seen, but Renegades have at least informed us that they’re here to play.


8. – Winterfox 1-3 (new) [1-1 vs. Selfless, 0-2 vs. Liquid]

Perhaps the most controversial team in the Pro League this season, the Winterfox organization retained their Pro League status despite much debate over dropping their old lineup and fielding an entirely new team of Australian imports. As opposed to their brothers over at Renegades, much less is known about this lineup. In terms of international CS, the only notable pick of this bunch is Chris “emagine” Rowlands, who actually attended Cologne ’15 as part of the Team Immunity lineup that also contained Rickeh. Despite coming into the league as a mystery team to most, they left enough on the table to justify their place, even if their legal status in it is still questionable.

Despite going 1-3 in their first week, they pushed both Selfless and Team Liquid to the brink, winning double digit rounds in all four of their appearances this week. Plaudits have to go to Christopher “dexter” Nong and Ryan “zewsy” Palmer, who absolutely bullied Selfless; dexter ended their 16-13 loss on Dust 2 with 27 frags, while zewsy dropped 33 kills in the team’s thrilling 19-16 overtime victory on Mirage. They played the same set of maps with Liquid almost to a similar tune of success, making the major finalists play all 30 rounds on Dust 2 and requiring a 30 bomb from EliGE to win out on Mirage.

While Winterfox shouldn’t feel too hard done by their performance in week two, they would do well to expand on the fragging power they showed. Playing the same two maps didn’t help us, the audience, in terms of learning more about this team, but something very concerning about them is their lack of presence on the AWP. Against Selfless and Liquid, the respective AWPers of both teams, Noah “Nifty” Francis and jdm, were comfortably the better marksman. At this level of CS, you can’t expect to win out without somebody willing to take on the responsibility of designated AWP, even if it is to the detriment of one’s own individual level, a la f0rest/pyth on NiP or Cutler on CLG. Obviously, there’s time to remedy. 


9. – Splyce 1-3 (new) [1-1 vs. coL, 0-2 vs. IMT]

After weeks of waiting, NA FaZe disguised as Splyce finally showed us glimpses of what this rather peculiar group of international players is capable of. Unfortunately, we can’t read too much into their opening performances as we are still waiting for Mongolian star Enkhtavian “Machinegun” Lkhagva to receive his work visa. Adding on to this, Splyce went an interesting route by rounding out their their rather unique roster with ESEA Main player Temin “reD” Kwon. He was predictably poor, bottom fragging in all four maps the team played this week, but hopefully Machinegun’s visa issues will be sorted out soon.

Even without Machinegun in the fold, Splyce was able to show us glimpses of brilliance, but only that. On their first map, Overpass versus compLexity, European new boys Asger “AcilioN” Larsen and Joey “CRUC1AL” Steusel showed glimpses of brilliance, anchoring the A bombsite, with CRUC1AL especially shining with the AWP while in bathroom and watching long. Yet, by the end of the match, it would be the IGL Arya “arya” Hekmat who had his say, chiming in with 27 kills. The honeymoon was soon over, losing to compLexity on Cobble by a score of 16-11 and then getting stomped by Immortals, only winning 11 rounds on both maps combined.

Although much of the spotlight is on the imports, David “DAVEY” Stafford proved a stable presence, grabbing 21, 22 and 21 kills in three of the four maps they played this week. I wish I could say more about this team, but with a random Main player in the lineup, it was always clear that this composition of five was never going to do much. Still, the other four all reminded us that Splyce can still have a say in the ever-changing makeup of NA CS. Machinegun will prove to be a real wild card for this team and as it stands, things can only look up for Splyce.


10. Counter Logic Gaming – 0-2 (new) [0-2 vs. C9]

To say CLG has had a rough few weeks would be an understatement. This team is nowhere near the lineup that made it to the quarterfinals of MLG Columbus 2016. With their two best players, jdm and tarik, gone to greener pastures, and even their coach Faruk “pita” Pita bidding farewell to return home overseas, the reconstruction of this team was always going to be a painful one.

While other teams looked for experience, CLG went a different route, opting for two young players in the form of Ethan “nahtE” Arnold and Yassine “Subroza” Taoufik. Neither of them made a big impression, getting no more than 16 kills at any point in the series, but in fairness it was a baptism by fire at the hand of Pro League’s current undisputed number one.

It was a rather average showing against Cloud9, losing 16-11 on Mirage and 16-10 on Train. Fitting, considering that’s what many people would have called this team probably. Still, they weren’t totally horrible versus one of the best teams in the league. I have to be straight up though: this ridiculousness with Stephen “reltuC” Cutler taking up the AWP needs to stop. He has done a respectable job, abruptly taking up the job when no one else would, but this is not his position. If this team wants to have any say in Season 4, Kenneth “koosta” Suen needs to remind us of who he is. He needs to step back up to the plate and recapture the brilliant form he showed in his time as the designated AWPer and star of Enemy. If his time at Liquid has truly shattered his confidence to the point of wanting to be a rifler, then CLG’s place in this league is going to be under heavy contention. 


11. NRG Esports – 0-2 (new) [0-2 vs. IMT]

NRG is considered by some as one of the better lineups that NA CS has to offer up. Unfortunately, they were stomped by Immortals and proved undeserving of much of the respect many show for this international lineup. Perhaps we caught them on an off-week, but the 16-6 loss on Overpass was incredibly telling, with all five Immortals players outfragging the other five on NRG.

Not much can be said about NRG, especially considering they were one of the few lineups untouched by the NA roster shuffle. Still, with the amount of talent and experience they field, more is expected from them. A positive for them is that Peter “ptr” Gurney continues to rack up kills with the AWP, outfragging HEN1 with the big green gun on both maps. After just one series, there aren’t exactly flashing red lights going off, but getting stuffed in the fashion that they did isn’t a good start either.


12. Selfless – 1-5 (-5) [1-1 vs. WFX]

In the same way that CLG were left floored by various roster changes, Selfless were no better. After losing koosta to Team Liquid all those months ago, rifler Skyler “Relyks” Weaver bid adieu to join Team SoloMid. In the face of this, Ryu’s men banded together and put in a real team performance on the first game of Mirage, winning 16-13 with every player grabbing at least 18 frags. The standout here was definitely Matthew “no_one” Congdon, ending the map at 24-2-17. It was a valiant series against the Australians, narrowly losing the second iteration of Mirage in overtime, but based on this team’s performances in the first two weeks, there is very little reason to think they won’t just linger the bottom of the pack.


13. eUnited – 1-5 (-7) [1-1 vs. IMT, 0-2 vs. OpTic]

Not much to say here, except that eUnited was able to secure their first map win against Immortals.

Statistics provided by HLTV. Fight me at @ohwhatitsmeels.

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