ESL ESEA Pro League Grand Finals Staff Picks: Can North America dethrone European Royalty?

by theScore eSports Staff Jul 5 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of ESL

In this edition of CS:GO Staff Picks, theScore eSports' CS:GO team make several bold statements about the ESL ESEA Pro League Grand Finals and try to predict how the showdown between Cloud9 and Fnatic will play out.

ESEA Pro League Champions

Jacob Juillet - Prediction: Fnatic

Early stumbles don’t mean much considering the best-of-one format, and since then the Swedes have recovered enough to take out Cloud9, who had one of the easiest paths to a Grand Finals in recent memory. The only way Fnatic will lose is if the whole team decides not to show up to the match... or if fREAKAZOiD takes them out back.

Paul Park - Prediction: Cloud9

Yes, I'm rolling with Cloud9. This tournament has been a breakout performance for the North American squad, and they have looked extremely strong throughout. Looking back on their quarterfinals matchup against Team EnVyUs, it seemed unlikely that the North Americans could manage to win a best-of-three series against the French squad but they did so without giving up a single map. In fact, the only team they gave up a map to are no longer in the tournament.

Sure, Fnatic are more experienced and far more talented than the North Americans, but Cloud9 have one strategic X Factor over the Swedes — tank tops.

Allow me to explain.

The Swedes have previously complained about the heat in the studios and the discomfort they were experiencing was evident throughout the first match of their semifinals series. It became such an issue that flusha even discussed the issue several times throughout his post-match interview. If Cloud9 can get under their opponents' skin by grinding out the first couple of maps and eventually force an extended series, the heat might frustrate Fnatic to the point where it may make a significant difference in the series. It’s not much, but hey, you take whatever advantages you can get over Fnatic.

Melissa Angilletta - Prediction: Fnatic

I’d love to see North American champions, but after Fnatic’s high-strung match against Team SoloMid, it’s easy to see why they are one of the best teams in the world. In terms of pure firepower, Fnatic crush the output of Cloud9.

Cloud9 have been very fortunate in their run to the finals. Not once did they confront either of the two best teams in the event (Fnatic and TSM), as they pulled out wins against Team EnVyUs and Counter Logic Gaming. Although the team has been preparing well, it will be hard to catch Fnatic off-guard, especially in a best-of-five Grand Finals.

Grand Finals MVP

Jacob Juillet - Prediction: Olofmeister

I will pick Olof anywhere I can and not look back. He has been a Top 3 players at a majority of the events that he has taken part in over the past few months and is pulling Fnatic through this event as well. Why would that stop now?

Paul Park - Prediction: Skadoodle

Skadoodle has been an absolute beast throughout the tournament, and a menacing presence with the AWP. C9’s dedicated AWPer has put up some insane numbers and currently sits just below Olofmeister for second place in highest Kill-Death differential with a +35. Skadoodle will have to continue his fantastic play if Cloud9 are going to take the series against Fnatic but it would not be surprising to see Skadoodle atop the statistical charts regardless of who wins this series.

Melissa Angilletta - Prediction: seangares

Like most in-game leaders, seangares goes negative but Cloud9’s score doesn’t seem to be holding them back and his in-game leadership throughout the tournament has been impressive. With seangares, Cloud9 have gotten into the heads of their opponents and consistently beating a team like EnVyUs is not something that can be overlooked.

Biggest Disappointment

Jacob Juillet - Prediction: KRIMZ

KRIMZ has been the biggest disappointment for Fnatic so far, and his slide will continue his in the finals. With that being said, his underperformance will not be enough to make Fnatic lose, but it will make the match a lot closer than it needs to be.

Paul Park - Prediction: KRIMZ

KRIMZ has had a rather disappointing tournament and is currently Fnatic's second lowest statistically rated player. His struggles have been evident throughout the tournament and it has affected his team in a significant way. In their first loss to Counter Logic Gaming, KRIMZ was a non-factor, putting up a forgettable 13/5/20. Not only that, but he was also their worst statistical player in their narrow win over the Keyd Stars on Train when the Brazilians took them into overtime. It seems that teams from the North American region have found ways to exploit KRIMZ in their matchups, and Cloud9 will have to do the same.

Melissa Angilletta - Prediction: fREAKAZOiD

fREAKAZOiD has performed a lot better this weekend when compared to Gfinity Summer Masters I as he has been trading well for an entry fragger. But going up against one of the scariest teams in the world and the pressure of a Grand Finals matchup can get to inexperienced players easily. There’s no room for mistakes in this matchup, and Fnatic can pick on him easily. He may be a confident and talented player, but I’m not convinced that he will trade with anyone on Fnatic as consistently as he needs to for his team to win.

The Final Score

Jacob Juillet - Prediction: 3-1 Fnatic​

Cloud9 will be able to swing either Train or Cache in their favor, but not both. Every other map will go the way of Fnatic, who have one of the deepest and most threatening map pools in CS:GO. The only way Cloud9 can overcome Fnatic's map advantage is to have every player on the roster play to the best of their ability in at least three of the maps. It's also worth noting that n0thing and shroud, two players who will be key to Cloud9’s victory, are well known for having consistency issues in the past.

Paul Park - Prediction: 3-2 Cloud9

As a CS:GO fan, I’m hoping that this series goes to an all important Game 5 where both teams trade round after round until one of them emerges victorious.

We have seen throughout the tournament that Cloud9 play Cache and Dust 2 very well and if they manage to get their hands on these two maps and pull off an unexpected victory on Mirage or Train (two maps that Fnatic have struggled on in the tournament), they could actually pull off the upset. Seems like a far-fetched scenario but stranger things have happened.

Melissa Angilletta - Prediction: 3-1 Fnatic​

With five maps available, Fnatic’s deep map pool gives them the edge as they can ban strategically without leaving any weaknesses open. On the other hand, C9 is in a position where they are forced to ban either Cobblestone or Mirage, while Fnatic could ban their opponent’s best map Cache. With that being said, I wouldn't be surprised if Fnatic leave the map open and pick their bans based on deeper reasoning.

Since we rarely ever see how Cloud9’s map play fairs against European teams, with careful planning, they can potentially pull out some wins in this set. Depending on the map veto format, the matchup could be a lot closer. A huge downfall for Cloud9 is that they likely don’t have a means of understanding Fnatic’s discussion in the POV streams, while Fnatic’s bilinguality allows them to plan ahead even further.

Looking at these teams based on skill and history, Fnatic should go home with another title, but let’s hope the series isn't a blowout.