ESL ESEA Pro League Finals Preview: Cloud9 vs CLG

by theScore Staff Jul 3 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of ESL

North America has landed in the ESL ESEA Pro League Finals in full force, with both Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9 leading the charge against the European competition. The conclusion of the group stage saw the two teams book their place in the semifinal, where they will face each other to earn a shot at representing North America in the Grand Final.

In order to secure their space, Counter Logic Gaming performed well above expectation on Day 1, taking a surprise win over Fnatic with great counter-strategies on Mirage and dispatching the Keyd Stars in their second game.

Their opponents, Cloud9, had a more difficult path to the semifinals, facing and defeating Team EnVyUs twice, once in their event opener and once in the quarterfinals. The only blemish on Cloud9's path to the semifinals is their loss to, who will be playing in the other semifinal against Fnatic.

Even though CLG goes into this match as the winner of Group B, Cloud9 has the clear advantage as they have won all four of the previous matches that the two current lineups have played.

The past four meetings of Cloud9 and CLG are as follows:

Winner Score Loser Map
Cloud9 16-9 CLG Inferno
Cloud9 16-12 CLG Train
Cloud9 16-10 CLG Dust2
Cloud9 16-13 CLG Cache

The difference maker in the past four games was that Cloud9’s core group of players have contributed at a much higher level than CLG’s. This could be a by-product of the team being more talented individually or simply having better execution when it comes to tactics. Either way, it is undeniable that history dictates that Cloud9 are the massive favorite.

Cloud9's statistics from past four games versus CLG:

Player Avg. Kills(Total) Avg. Assists(Total) Avg. Deaths(Total) Total +/-
Skadoodle 21.25 (85) 1.5 (6) 14.75 (59) +26
shroud 19.75 (79) 5.25 (21) 15.75 (63) +16
n0thing 20.25 (81) 5 (20) 17.75 (71) +10
seangares 16.25 (65) 4.25 (17) 17.25 (69) -3
fREAKAZOiD 16.67 (50) 5.67 (17) 19 (57) -7

In the four previous games, Cloud9 were dominant. Skadoodle seems to have had CLG's number in the past, having racked up an average of 21 kills per game, higher than any other player. He also had a kill differential of +26, which is 10 higher than anyone else, throughout the four games.

The only disappointment for Cloud9 in the past has been that fREAKAZOiD has had trouble when going up against CLG. But considering he has had the best showing of his career this weekend, it is likely that he will be better against CLG this time than he has been in the past.

CLG’s statistics from the four previous matchups with Cloud9 are not anywhere near as pretty. tarik was the only player on the team who was able to come out positive over the four games, while jdm, FNS and hazed all had issues being consistent. All three had at least one very poor performance against Cloud9, hazed having multiple.

CLG's statistics from past four games versus Cloud9:

Player Avg. Kills(Total) Avg. Assists(Total) Avg. Deaths(Total) Total +/-
tarik 20 (80) 4.5 (18) 18.25 (73) +7
reltuC 17 (68) 3 (12) 17.75 (71) -3
jdm64 17.25 (69) 2.75 (11) 19.5 (78) -9
FNS 16 (64) 4 (16) 19.5 (78) -14
hazed 13.75 (55) 4 (16) 19.75 (79) -24

tarik, CLG’s best player, is capable of hitting shots that few others players could even dream of, but he alone has never been enough to stop Cloud9. He cannot do it alone because Cloud9 has such a deep roster. tarik cannot out-frag two or three players alone. It is the core members of CLG that need to step up.

Cloud9 is the deepest roster in North America and, on a good day, one of the deepest in the world. Every player, other than perhaps seangares, is capable of performing at an elite level, and when even two or three of them show up CLG instantly fall behind. reltuC, jdm and FNS need to perform for CLG, otherwise they simply won’t have enough firepower to win against Cloud9.

That even ignores the fact that Cloud9 likely has more fluid execution and have been on the ball strategically all weekend. On the bright side, CLG has been performing well so far. Their entire roster did well in both of the team's two games, but as Cloud9 has done just as well in twice as many games it is hard to say things won't go as expected.

If CLG are still the same team they were on Day 1 they have a chance, but as every possible measure goes in favor of Cloud9 it is impossible to predict anything other than a 2-0 sweep. If CLG do battle back a three game set could easily happen, but this might be one of the toughest matches they have ever played.

Jacob Julliet writes about Counter-Strike for theScore eSports. Follow him on Twitter.