The final week of the ELEAGUE Premier 2017 is upon us, and they certainly saved the best for last. We’ve three of the best teams in Counter-Strike facing off this weekend in Atlanta, with Heroic looking to prove that it can hang with the big boys.
Group D: SK Gaming, Astralis, Team Liquid, Heroic
Advancing: SK Gaming and Team Liquid
This is probably one of the hardest ones of all to predict. It contains three of the hottest teams who also have a history of being inconsistent at times. That being said, let’s try and make some sense of these teams.
SK Gaming needs almost no introduction. They’re one of the winningest teams in CS:GO history, and have been on an absolute tear in 2017. They’ve won five titles this year alone, while making it to at least the semifinals of six others. Their last win came in a sweep over Cloud9 at ESL Cologne back in July. They certainly have had some rough times over the last couple tournaments, however. Of note, they lost to Astralis in the quarterfinals of the PGL Major Krakow, and to Liquid in the semifinals of ESL One New York. Still, SK simply has the better track record and it’s hard to bet against them coming out of the group.
If you had asked me to predict who would come out of this group back when the groups were first announced weeks ago, I would have given the nod to Astralis after SK. Things change, however. Team Liquid has been defying expectations of late and are primed for a huge breakout soon. While the North American CS:GO scene often catches tons of flack, Liquid has risen above that over the few weeks and is showing signs of (legitimate) life. Not only did they beat SK at ESL One New York, but they also beat the Brazilians at ESG Tour Mykonos as well. In addition, they took down Astralis in the group stages of ESL New York. This will be their chance to break ahead and show the world that they’re here to stay.
Astralis, on the other hand, is a team that’s simply hard to get behind these days. They seemed poised for domination the likes of which are normally reserved for SK Gaming, but have fallen short at every turn. After winning ECS Season 2, the ELEAGUE Major, and IEM Katowice in the span of three months between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, they fell off incredibly hard. Since the win at IEM Katowice, they have competed in six tournaments with no wins and just one grand finals appearance. Given the rise of Liquid over the last few weeks and the steady dominance of SK, it’s not looking good for the Danes of Astralis.
Heroic, in the grand scheme of this group, seems like a team just happy to be here. Mainly relegated to lower level DreamHack events and early exits at the bigger tournaments, the team simply doesn’t get enough reps in with the better teams to hang tough against the best of the best. Put in such a stacked group, it likely won’t be the best of times for Heroic in Atlanta.
The action will get underway this Friday at 6 p.m. ET, with Astralis taking on Team Liquid in the first match of the weekend.