ESL One New York: Storylines to follow
ESL One New York is less than 20 hours away and there are many things to dive into that might set the tone for months to come. So if you don't follow the scene closely, then this will help you catch up and appreciate the competitive side more.
No s1mple solution for Natus Vincere
For the longest time, people thought that Na`Vi was a step away from achieving true greatness. After every close defeat, you would see the forums flooded with "-Zeus + s1mple." Remove the statistically weakest link and replace him with one of the most skilled players to ever touch the game. Surely an impact player like Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev would take the load away from the duo of Egor "flamie" Vasilyev and Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács, making it a more balanced team overall. Well at least that is how it sounded on paper and the early exhibition matches against SK Gaming really boosted people's hopes up.
However, to almost everyone's surprise, Na`Vi fell down hard over the last few months. The squad felt out a place and there were a few role changes in a short span of time, which is never a good sign. The offline debut hit the CIS squad the hardest as they fell to the Chinese powerhouse in TyLoo and was then eliminated by Astralis in a fierce battle that showcased the skill of s1mple, as well as the lack of leadership on the team. The skill was enough to put the map into overtime, but the lack of mid-round adaptation eventually allowed the Danes to edge out.
Some talent requires proper adjustments to flourish
Since then, Na`Vi has played 12 online matches and lost seven of them, including the brutalizing beatdown they received at the hands of Fnatic, who is a very interesting team in their own right at the moment. Later on, Na`Vi moved away from Denis "seized" Kostin as the secondary AWPer and put the big green gun on s1mple instead. However, the fact that this wasn't done right off the bat hints at the lack of planning.
Right now, Natus Vincere is a big question mark; they sport some of the most skilled players in the world but have failed to turn that into any kind of results so far. ESL New York will show whether they can become the world beaters everyone expected or just fade into the background as just another experiment that fell flat on its face.
Astralis and the mental block
At this point, the Danes have become legendary for being that one team that fails to push through and grab the W again and again. There was a time when Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz felt like the inconsistent superstar that failed to carry his team through to victory, but with time, he overcame that problem and can now be found on the top of the scoreboard quite often, regardless of the opponent. Then, people started pointing towards René "cajunb" Borg as the weak link that kept the squad down. As a result, they went ahead and acquired one of the hottest upcoming Danish riflers in Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye, who also showed up in great form after a short time of adjusting. Couple that with Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann's return to form and there really is no excuse for this squad to not be one of the best teams out there.
Device has elevated his play many times, but can Astralis rise together as a squad?
However, the curse remains with the core and in the past few months, they have fallen short at EPICENTER Moscow EU Qualifier and SL i-League StarSeries S2 Finals. To add salt to their wounds, one of the more crushing defeats came at the hands of NiP, who sported the super sub in Mikail "Maikelele" Bill to victory. Given their history against the Danes, it does feel like the Swedes are like kryptonite to Astralis. Overall, it is not looking good for Device and company, and their performance at this tournament might make or break the roster.
The champions return, but in what form?
SK Gaming is still ranked as the top team by most relevant sources, unless you are talking braindead power rankings that take online results way too seriously. However, many question their current form due to the offseason gap which got stretched due to Fernando "fer" Alvarenga going through some medical issues. As for the online results, chances are that a major winning team with a stand-in probably did not care in most of those matches. Though it should be pointed out that even in those sub-optimal situations, Marcelo "coldzera" David continued to put up big numbers, often shifting maps to their favor.
Can the major champions shake off the rust and return to form?
This event won't be an easy ride though. Despite the issues, expect Natus Vincere to always gave them a run for their money due to how they stylistically match up. Coupled with the fact that s1mple has a score to settle with the Brazilians, it will be a great match.
Also, let's not forget Virtus.pro, who were one of the few teams who could take maps off of the Brazilian squad during their peak, which should also make for a highly exciting series deeper into the tournament.
Can Team Liquid find the magic without s1mple?
Team Liquid had some fantastic runs during their time with s1mple, producing some of the most exciting matches in recent memory. The chant of "USA, USA, USA" was deafening, but since then, their performance has gone downhill.
They have been constantly thrashed by Cloud9, who has now reclaimed the spot of the best team in North America, and there has been no notable offline presence from the squad with Jacob "Pimp" Winneche. Coupled with the poor leadership from Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella, this is very worrying for Liquid fans.
It is up to Hiko to bring back the confidence?
Team Liquid's attempt at a new style hasn't worked well and it has been proven time and time again that nitr0 works best when his mind is off of in-game leading. Right now, this team looks like a broken car that is on the verge of crashing down; whether Spencer "Hiko" Martin can reenergize the squad in time and have a respectable showing at this tournament remains to be seen.
Did Fnatic win the trade after all?
Like most people, I also thought that GODSENT snuck away with the better roster. However, with the older core now in shambles, the current Fnatic roster is looking more and more impressive. Granted all their showings have been online, but there seems to be a lot less adjusting.
Fnatic has a history of making bold moves and coming out on top
Let us not forget that towards the end of the older lineup, Dennis "dennis" Edman and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer Gustafsson were by far the best players on the squad, and the rest were falling off of their godly standards. On the other side, the duo of Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson and Simon "twist" Eliasson were showing up time and time again with great performances, carrying the then lineup of GODSENT to great results. It is all assumption at this point that Fnatic won the trade, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see how the Swedes show up offline.
What teams are you rooting for at ESL New York? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Images via: HLTV.Org
Preview image credits here.
Follow me on Twitter for more