Who will be the last three teams to reach playoffs in Malta?

Who will be the last three teams to reach playoffs in Malta?

After three weeks of competition, the last Group of ESL Pro League Season 16 will start on Wednesday, and with it, three squads will lock their spot in the playoffs of the Maltese event. Group C went all the way to the last day of play to be decided, can Group D replicate the intensity and chaos of last week?

Liquid have only improved since YEKINDAR joined

The favorites

Offline placings in the last three months

The North American squad failed to live up to their own expectations after re-signing Nick “⁠nitr0⁠” Cannella to the squad and acquiring Richard “⁠shox⁠” Papillon at the start of 2022, and a change was desperately needed. To replace the French veteran Liquid managed to secure the services of Mareks “⁠YEKINDAR⁠” Gaļinskis on a temporary basis following Virtus.pro‘s decision to transfer list the Latvian rifler.

Liquid have done nothing but improve since the 22-year-old’s arrival, not just in terms of performance in the server, but their rankings as well, with the North American squad now sitting on the No.3 spot in the rankings.

Who will be the last three teams to reach playoffs in Malta?

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daps: “YEKINDAR is teaching the guys a lot and I’m learning a lot from him”

nitr0‘s men went from a 7-8th place finish at IEM Dallas with shox to a 5-6th placing at IEM Cologne and a 1-3rd journey at BLAST Fall Groups 2022 with YEKINDAR. Their impressive Copenhagen campaign included victories over G2, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Heroic to claim a spot in the Fall Finals.

The upwards trajectory that Liquid is on right now should put a smile on every fan’s face. Advancing to the playoffs should be the expectation for the team, with a top finish in Group D very much in the cards.

Offline placings in the last three months

We have not seen Cloud9 in action since their 9-12th exit from IEM Cologne 2022 in July, and despite the time away and the inconsistent form shown by the Russian squad this year, it would be foolish to not consider them among the favorites to reach the knockout phase.

Vladislav “⁠nafany⁠” Gorshkov and company have shown their ability to bounce back from a poor tournament finish with their victory at IEM Dallas which followed their blowout at PGL Major Antwerp. EPL S16 is the perfect chance for Cloud9 to bounce back and reclaim their status as title contenders.

Who will be the last three teams to reach playoffs in Malta?

Cloud9 will challenge Liquid for that top spot in Group D

Dmitry “⁠sh1ro⁠” Sokolov and Sergey “⁠Ax1Le⁠” Rykhtorov are still some of the highest-rated individuals on LAN, with both players averaging 1.24 ratings against top 20 opponents this year. That alone is enough firepower to make Cloud9 dangerous, and combined with the experience of Abay “⁠HObbit⁠” Khasenov and the leadership of nafany, Cloud9 should have no problems in getting out of Group D.

The challengers

Offline placings in the last three months

Rafael “⁠saffee⁠” Costa‘s was supposed to bring FURIA back to the top of North American Counter-Strike, but the Brazilians’ comeback to the elite has not yet materialized. Regardless, they still have enough in them to surprise a few people and take the third qualification spot from the group.

There are three conditions to this, and they are called Kaike “⁠KSCERATO⁠” Cerato, Yuri “⁠yuurih⁠” Santos, and saffee. The first two have been FURIA‘s best and most consistent players over the course of 2022, but they alone cannot push the Brazilian squad over the finish line and will need serious help from their AWPer.

saffee has not reached the heights he experienced during his time with paiN, registering only a 1.02 rating with FURIA in 2022 compared to the 1.28 average rating across his time with his old squad. Andrei “⁠arT⁠” Piovezan needs to find a way to enable the 27-year-old’s potential if they are to advance to the next phase of the tournament.

FURIA‘s own in-game leader has also not been himself lately, and the team has suffered from his dip in form. Without the unpredictability and x-factor brought from arT, the Brazilians will struggle to compete against the best and showcase their entertaining play style.

Offline placings in the last three months

Movistar Riders had a breakout summer that saw the Spanish squad win on home soil at ESL Challenger Valencia 2022 before reaching the semi-finals of IEM Cologne 2022. Their success was powered by Alvaro “⁠SunPayus⁠” Garcia‘s incredible performances with the AWP across both tournaments.

The 23-year-old sniper joined ENCE in August, leaving Movistar Riders without their talismanic player and highest-rated individual over the course of 2022. Antonio “⁠Martinez⁠” Martinez was brought in to replace SunPayus, and despite a few flashes of brilliance from the new AWPer, the Spanish squad failed to qualify for the Road to Rio Europe RMR and finished fourth at SteelSeries Nova Cup Western Europe Fall 2022.

Who will be the last three teams to reach playoffs in Malta?

Movistar Riders failed to qualify for the RMR

Alejandro “⁠alex⁠” Masanet‘s team is still ranked No.5 in the world, but that position is maintained mostly from their previous tournament placings with SunPayus, meaning it’s a little deceiving. Without their best performer in 2022, there is very little chance that Movistar Riders can reach the playoffs, but a couple of wins against the likes of Evil Geniuses and Eternal Fire could see them scrape through.

No offline placings in the last three months

Engin “⁠MAJ3R⁠” Küpeli‘s men are the only ones from Group D that qualified for the event through ESL Pro League Season 16 Conference. The Turkish squad has also been one of the most active teams from the group in recent times, participating in three separate events and online qualifiers in the last month.

The recent activity might give Eternal Fire a small edge over teams such as Cloud9 and FURIA who have not played at any official matches since IEM Cologne, but it will still be a tough challenge for the Turkish squad.

Ismailcan “⁠XANTARES⁠” Dörtkardeş and Özgür “⁠woxic⁠” Eker‘s performances will dictate the team’s placing, and after good showings in the open qualifiers for IEM Road to Rio and ESL Challenger Rotterdam, the duo could take down a few unprepared teams.

In need of a miracle

Offline placings in the last three months

The North American squad comes into EPL Season 16 with a new-look roster, comprising of Khazak in-game leader Sanzhar “⁠neaLaN⁠” Iskhakov acquired from K23 and previous EG Black prospect Jadan “⁠HexT⁠” Postma. The squad has only been together for a little under two months and has experienced just one LAN tournament at BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022, where the team left in 10-12th place with only one map win to their name against Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Timothy “⁠autimatic⁠” Ta was the only Evil Geniuses player to record a rating above 1.00 in Copenhagen, while key players such as Tsvetelin “⁠CeRq⁠” Dimitrov and Vincent “⁠Brehze⁠” Cayonte continued terrible runs of form that now span almost two years.

Who will be the last three teams to reach playoffs in Malta?

EPL S16 will be neaLaN’s second offline tournament with Evil Geniuses

These are the two individuals that brought NRG and then Evil Geniuses to the top of North American Counter-Strike and unless neaLaN is able to unlock the two players’ potential, there is very little hope for the team to advance from Group D. HexT is still young and adapting to tier-one competition, so it would be unreasonable to expect him to excel at his second-ever LAN with the new squad.

Evil Geniuses will face an uphill battle at EPL, and with competition such as Liquid, Cloud9, and FURIA, there will be no room for error for neaLaN‘s men. The team’s aim will be to not finish dead last in their group, something they have done in the last three editions of the competition.

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  • Source: https://www.hltv.org/news/34621/who-will-be-the-last-three-teams-to-reach-playoffs-in-malta

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