Valve’s CS:GO Majors bring out some of the most exciting and tantalizing storylines in esports. And only after one day of competition, it’s safe to say that the ELEAGUE Major is delivering.
Favorites have already tasted defeat, while teams with little fanfare behind them have risen to the occasion in dramatic fashion. While the group stage is still far from over, here are some of the most noteworthy and interesting storylines from the first day of the ELEAGUE Major.
GODSENT pull a fast one on Astralis
For the better part of six months, GODSENT has been considered something of a joke. Consisting primarily of the legendary former Fnatic roster, the team struggled all throughout 2016 without achieving any kind of noteworthy results. Instead, GODSENT dropped series against opponents with far less firepower behind them, sometimes in even spectacularly embarrassing fashion.
But on the first day of the ELEAGUE Major, GODSENT upset the order and defeated tournament favorites Astralis in one of the most one-sided games of the event so far. In only 22 rounds, the Danish favorites were schooled completely by GODSENT’s T-side on Train, with only three rounds to their name after the first half.
As fate now would have it, GODSENT will now be facing Gambit in the upcoming round of the Swiss format group stage, while Astralis face their Canadian rivals OpTic Gaming. Suddenly, the tournament favorites are in anything but a sweet spot, and it is all because of GODSENT.
Virtus.Pro look fierce after battling OpTic
The battle between Poland’s Virtus Pro and Canada’s OpTic Gaming was one of the highlights at the ELEAGUE Major’s opening day, as both teams looked to assert themselves as the top competitors at the event.
While OpTic’s recent performances have put them closer to the spotlight than their Polish contemporaries, Virtus Pro’s uncanny ability to seemingly always perform at Valve Majors should never be understated.
Following a solid first 9-6 half for OpTic on Cobblestone, where OpTic’s Will "RUSH" Wierzba continued to showcase his status as one of the continent’s entry-fraggers, Virtus found their way back. The Poles’ answer, as is often the case, was the play of star player Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski, who sniped down the Canadian opposition constantly.
The Poles already found themselves looking to be one of the favorites heading into the event. After dispatching OpTic in this fashion, it certainly looks as if the hype was warranted.
ELiGE is world class
Despite losing its first game of the tournament after a triple-overtime to what is, presumably, EnVyUs’ last run, Team Liquid’s Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski continues to perform on a level far above other North American players.
The centerpiece of the North American roster since the departure of Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev in May last year, ELiGE put on display on Cache that was pure CS:GO godliness. With an ADR (Average Damage per Round) of 111, the 19-year-old North American averaged roughly one kill in each of the 46 rounds that were played, resulting in a scoreline of 48 kills and 33 deaths. Combined with several noteworthy multi-kills and clutches, there can be no missing who the star on Team Liquid is.
While being far from favorites in its first match-up of the event, the sheer magnitude of the beating the Eastern European supersquad Na`Vi administered to the German-based mousesports roster was made all the more bitter by the continued decline of mousesports’ star Nikola "NiKo" Kova?.
Widely considered to be the most skilled CS:GO player without a title to his name, the Bosnian only succeeded in netting nine kills throughout the game, resulting in one of his worst performances in his career. Granted, the game was over in only 19 rounds, and mousesports were consistently put under economic stress throughout the game. But even so, NiKo was surpassed by all but one of his teammates in terms of frags and impact.
After spending the majority of 2016 firmly placed among the top competitors in CS:GO, a collapse at the ELEAGUE Major would be a disaster for the young Bosnian.
Today’s hottest matches
SK Gaming vs. FaZe - 12:30pm ET
Since the addition of former Astralis in-game leader Finn “Karrigan” Andersen, FaZe is looking to assert itself at the top of the CS:GO hegemony. At the same time, even an SK Gaming with a stand-in is still one of the scariest opponents any team can face.
OpTic vs. Astralis - 4:15pm ET
By the end of today, one of the tournament favorites will be hanging loose: Both OpTic and Astralis faced each other in the grand finals of the two latest significant LAN events, and delivered exciting matches on both occasions. But neither of them can be measured in the potential implications of today’s confrontation, where another defeat could mean the difference between advancing onto the playoffs, or going home from the first Valve Major of 2017.
G2 Esports vs. Virtus Pro - 6:45pm ET
If there is one thing Virtus.pro has proven time and time again, it’s that you can never count them out. No matter what, the Poles will find a way to dig themselves out of the deepest hole no matter the circumstances. But given the performance of G2 Esports’ Richard “shox” Papillon against Fnatic yesterday, there’s a considerable chance for things to get really interesting.