ESL Pro League Season 4 NA Power Rankings: Week 1

Sunday marked the end of the first week of ESL Pro League Season 4. 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.

Every week’s rankings will focus on certain strengths and weaknesses of each team. Also, these rankings will focus solely on performance in ESL Pro League and not any other events, tournaments, or leagues. Seeing as this is only the first week of Pro League action, obviously not every team will be ranked. As such, only teams who participated in the first round of matches will be ranked. For formatting purposes, every team’s record for the entire season is shown next to their name, while their record for the week is shown in brackets.

1. Cloud9 – 6-0 [2-0 vs. Liquid, 2-0 vs. Immortals, 2-0 vs. OpTic]

It’s in the early days for this new iteration of Cloud9, but after the last NA roster shuffle, it appears that the sky blue org has come out as the victors after dropping short-time in-game leader Alec “Slemmy” White for Team SoloMid rifler and support Timothy “autimatic” Ta. With Valve’s new stance on coaching in the professional scene, it remains to be seen whether dropping a dedicated in-game leader for a superior fragger is still a viable move, but based on this small sample, it appears to be working wonders.

autimatic had a very strong showing in his first week under the Cloud9 banner, boasting an average rating of 2.01 over six maps with a modest 87.55 ADR, dropping 27 kills twice against Team Liquid and OpTic Gaming. Although autimatic was arguably the star of the week for C9, the rest of the lineup also stepped their game up and compensated when his displays were less than dominant. In auti’s worst two maps in week 1, a 0.77 display versus Team Liquid and a 1.03 showing against Immortals, Michael “shroud” Grzesiek racked up 27 kills against his American compatriots, while Jake “Stewie2k” Yip dominated the Brazilian outfit with 32 kills.

Arguably, Cloud9 had the least dramatic change to their lineup, and also probably the easiest change to perform, dropping a low-fragging in-game leader for a top-notch support player. Regardless, after such a strong start, Cloud9 have to be considered strong favorites for the rest of the season.

2. Echo Fox – 6-0 [2-0 vs. Liquid, 2-0 vs. Selfless, 2-0 vs. eUnited]

Right behind Cloud9 are Pro League newcomers Echo Fox, led by former Cloud9 star tactician Sean “seangares” Gares. They won promotion into the league rather convincingly by defeating the new Luminosity Gaming/ex-WinOut lineup 2-0, headlined by a 16-4 plow on Train. It seems now, after just one week in the league, Rick Fox’s boys are more than capable of hanging around.

Echo Fox were the only team, along with Cloud9, to perform a clean sweep in their first week of Season 4. Admittedly, they faced inferior competition compared to the opponents of Cloud9, but nonetheless, deserve credit for their strong performances so early on. Like Cloud9, they succeeded by spreading frags across the team, with every player in the lineup top fragging for the team at least once (Shahzeb “ShahZam” Khan was the only person to repeat this feat, against Selfless and eUnited).

Whether Echo Fox can keep the momentum building remains to be seen, but a 6-0 start is a dream for them and should give them the confidence to push on and win bigger games this season. The only causes for concern I see for now are to see how they perform against bigger orgs/more cohesive lineups (e.g. Cloud9, Immortals, SK Gaming) and their lack of dominance on CT/T-sides; eUnited were the only team who were unable to take at least five rounds from Echo Fox in every half they played (won one round on T-side Mirage, won two on CT-side Overpass). The lack of dominance on either side of the bomb can be interpreted as weak to some, or as flexible to others. Regardless, in the long run, seangares would be smart to establish a more comfortable and defined map pool for the squad.

3. Team Liquid – 2-4 [0-2 vs. Cloud9, 0-2 vs. Echo Fox, 2-0 vs. OpTic]

For Liquid, it was a rough start to life after the departure of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev for greener pastures at Natus Vincere. They found a more than capable replacement in former Team X/ex-SK Gaming rifler Jacob “Pimp” Winneche, opting again to import a European talent and integrate them into the lineup. Although it was just one map, Pimp couldn’t have had a worse start: he bottom fragged in Liquid’s very first match, a 16-8 defeat to Cloud9 on Cobblestone, finishing with an awful line of 9-2-19 and a miniscule 40.1 ADR to boot. That poor (to say the least) performance earned him a 0.51 rating, though to be fair, he had only touched down in the US within the week, giving him and the team almost no time to prepare.

Pimp’s performances improved immediately; he top fragged for the team in the very next map, another loss to Cloud9, this time 16-10 on Dust 2. As easy as it would be to rip him apart, it would be just as easy to lambast the other members of Liquid as well. In their 0-4 start at the hands of Cloud9 and Echo Fox, Liquid were just too scared to take duels on. This showed, especially in the pair of fixtures against Cloud9; most players played angles very passively, whereas their sky blue rivals were more than willing to push this new team to see what they were made of.

I could be harsher with Liquid this week, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Although Immortals managed to win one more map than Liquid this week, I decided to place Liquid higher due to their very clear improvement over the week, and for that, Liquid deserve credit because none of the other teams that took a loss this week can say they did the same.

4. Immortals – 3-3 [0-2 vs. Cloud9, 1-1 vs. compLexity, 2-0 vs. Selfless]

The ex-Tempo Storm lineup made a change before the current shuffle actually went into motion, dropping Gustavo “SHOOWTiME” Gonçalves for former SK Gaming coach Wilton “zews” Prado. SHOOWTiME, who ironically has become a stand-in for SK Gaming in the wake of an injury to Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, was unarguably the weak link for this outfit, boasting a lowly 0.92 rating for the past three months. Whether zews is the answer is unclear for now, but the Brazilian lineup looks explosive when they are in form.

That being said, if not for the series against Selfless, it would have been a rough week for Immortals. They had a rather roller coaster start to Season 4, losing 16-5 and 16-14 to Cloud9 and 16-12 to compLexity. On the other hand, they took Train from compLexity winning 16-7, wining 12 rounds as the T-side in electric fashion, and ran over Selfless 16-1 and 16-8. A concern I have for this team is the same as one I had for Echo Fox: the lack of a consistent star player veiled, or compensated for, by the spreading of frags across the team.

Regardless, they continue to make Cobblestone their own personal playground, tormenting and almost 16-0’ing Selfless on it. When they are on their game, almost everybody on this lineup is a force to be reckoned with. Henrique “HEN1” Teles is explosive with the AWP, both at range and up, close, and personal; João “felps” Vasconcellos is equally explosive on the rifle, whether he is playing as an entry, anchor, rotator; and last but not least, Ricardo “boltz” Prass continues to quietly impress.

If word from CEVO Gfinity still holds true and he is still the in-game leader, boltz’s ability to frag only makes him more valuable in wake of Valve’s coaching changes. The winners of DreamHack Summer continue to impress when they are in form, but in a league that requires consistency, more is needed from this very talented group of players.

5. OpTic Gaming – 2-4 [2-0 vs. compLexity, 0-2 vs. Liquid, 0-2 vs. Cloud9]

Of all the roster changes made in the NA region, OpTic pulled off the most out-of-left-field move by picking up former Counter Logic Gaming star Tarik “tarik” Celik in place of Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz. The move could not have come at a more abrupt time, considering OpTic started the season 2-0 with stanislaw even top fragging in their first win against compLexity by 16-4. OpTic proceeded to lose their next four maps, although to be fair, not much is expected immediately of a new player in a new lineup and against much superior opposition.

Whereas Pimp and zews were steady and improved with more time in the server, tarik was all over the place—a quick learner, if we need a euphemism. He started off his very first map (Mirage vs. Liquid) 0-0-6 and yet, ended up clutching two 1v2’s by the end of the first half to win OpTic two of their only three round wins for the game. He ended up bottom fragging the following game on Cobblestone but ended the week strong by dropping 31 frags, a valiant effort in a 16-12 loss on Cache to Cloud9.

tarik, along with the rest of OpTic, could not have been more hot and cold this week. They proceeded to win three rounds in their respective first maps against Liquid and Cloud9, then in the second map, took them both to double digits, even pushing Liquid to a thrilling triple overtime on Cobble, which Liquid won 22-20. This team’s identity is still very hazy, but it’s nice to see another potential star to lessen the weight on designated AWPer Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas, who also had a standout game: a 39-8-25 performance in the 22-20 loss to Liquid.

6. compLexity Gaming – 1-3 [0-2 vs. OpTic, 1-1 vs. Immortals]

compLexity did their rightful duty for NA CS and also underwent a roster change, losing autimatic to Cloud9 and replacing him with former Selfless rifler Michael “Uber” Stapells. Also, following in the trend of their NA brethren, Uber, predictably, had a very rough start to life with the new org. He racked up a measly 27 kills through three maps, then almost doubled his total for the week by going off for 26 frags versus Immortals on Cache.

I feel bad taking credit away from them but compLexity were really able to take Cache from Immortals on the back of many mistakes by the Brazilian side, most notably letting compLexity win a 1v2 clutch with the bomb down, a result of a poor crossfire set up by HEN1 and zews on the A bombsite.

We didn’t learn much about compLexity from week one, and their identity seems unchanged for the most part: Shawn “witmer” Taylor and Kia “Surreal” Man tend to flounder on the scoreboard while the other three, even when swapping autimatic for Uber, more often than not pull their own weight. In the early days of Season 4, while all other teams are struggling to find their own comfort zones, compLexity should have an easier time than others. Still, it will be a long and hard climb if they want to make any real impact on this season.

7. eUnited – 0-2 [0-2 vs. Echo Fox]

Not much was or could be expected from a team formerly known as “Ze Pug Godz.” Maybe their place here says a lot about the pro NA CS scene more than it does about the team or anything else, but regardless, well… here they are.

It didn’t get more plain than eUnited this week: not a single player managed to bag more than 18 kills and they put up an unimposing 15 rounds over two maps against Echo Fox. From talent, to experience, to tactics, it’s hard to gauge eUnited in any way. They managed to put a smile on the face of every CS fan over the age of 21 (basically Ryu) by having former best player in the world Armeen “a2z” Toussi stand-in while they look for a permanent fifth. The memes were nice while we bored ourselves to death.

Although, in this case and compared to Selfless, boring was better. I won’t go ahead and label eUnited as the worst team in the league, and I won’t confirm for you that they are undoubtedly bad, but I can confirm for you that they aren’t very good (yet). There’s plenty of time, and plenty of PUGs to be played.

8. Selfless Gaming – 0-4 [0-2 vs. Echo Fox, 0-2 vs. Immortals]

William Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Well, I’ll tell you right now, Shakespeare is a damn liar because Selfless this week were unequivocally bad.

Okay, they weren’t THAT bad. Selfless, as it always seems, came so close to a victory, losing to Echo Fox on Dust 2 and Mirage by scorelines of 16-13 and 16-14. Had it not been for heroic performances from ShahZam and Daniel “roca” Gustaferri, it would have looked more than likely that Selfless would have taken one of the two maps. As it stands, they are dead last in Pro League and deserve it to the fullest.

Whereas their maps against Echo Fox came down to frustrating margins, Cobblestone versus Immortals was perhaps their most embarrassing performance as an organization to date. Not a single Selfless player broke double digits in kills, and to boot, every Immortals player, bar one, ended the game with only six deaths, mere scratches in reality. Skyler “Relyks” Weaver provided the only bright spot for the team, dropping a massive 34 kills against Echo Fox on Dust 2, but to no avail.

Admittedly, this next bit is totally unfair. If another org had gone out and came within two or three rounds of winning against Echo Fox, it could be interpreted as a positive, but since it was Selfless, I struggle to see many positives here. For a team with what appears to be a low ceiling, it’s frustrating to see them come so close so many times and fall flat every time. Perhaps their coach, Steve “Ryu” Rattacasa has an ace up his sleeve, or maybe Relyks is just scouting out his competition before he eats their souls one by one. The likely option here is Selfless sucked and we’ll give them a week to get their stuff together.

What do you think about our Power Rankings for this week? Are there any teams that you would rank higher or lower? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.

All statistics also provided by HLTV. If you would like to call my opinions garbage directly, you can find me on Twitter at @ohwhatitsmeels.