The regular season for the European portion of the Esports Championship Series Season 5 has come to a close with Astralis, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan and Fnatic punching their ticket to the Finals next month.
G2 had arguably the best week of the bunch, securing a 5-1 record all against teams with something to play for.
G2 were expected to take a step backwards, with continued struggles offline leading to rumours of an imminent complete roster overhaul. However, G2 have maintained their quality online, particularly here in the ECS where they finished second overall behind Astralis. A 1-1 split against a quality team in mousesports, alongside 2-0 victories over both NiP and fellow French side EnVyUs leave G2 with wind in their sails heading into the Finals.
Virtus.pro narrowly escaped relegation off the back of a 2-1 week that saw them condemn EnVyUs to last place. VP closed out EnVyUs in the final round of regulation on each map, demonstrating just how close the bottom teams were to each other.
Even after the addition of MICHU, VP have maintained their overall poor form, with the ability to stay in ECS through Season 6 being a lone bright spot in a prolonged slump. Roster changes look all but inevitable as VP attempt to recapture the brilliance that saw them become the top team in the world multiple times.
FaZe claim third
FaZe had an up and down week that contained three 1-1 splits against NiP, GODSENT and EnVyUs, although the final map against EnVyUs had no meaning as they had already secured their playoff spot by then.
FaZe have been on a rollercoaster thus far in 2018, with the loss of olofmeister resulting in a slump that was suddenly cut short with a win at IEM Sydney. The team have maintained decent results in multiple online leagues, yet they have continually been playing erratically against their opponents without being able to distinguish themselves from the lower tier teams.
The concern for FaZe primarily lies with their play against GODSENT when they still had something to play for. Each map was incredibly close, with FaZe being unable to dominate a significantly poorer squad even on two of their more solid maps in Mirage and Cache. The future of FaZe appears unclear, with talent to rival any team in the world yet a wildly inconsistent nature meaning it’s hard to map out their future.
NiP miss out
The team that unfortunately missed out on the Finals by a single game was NiP, who put together a solid if unspectacular 2-3 week. The door was opened for NiP when Fnatic split with GODSENT 1-1 due to NiP’s significant advantage in the round differential, which would have acted as a tiebreaker. After a 1-1 split with FaZe, NiP unfortunately dropped both of their matches against G2 Esports, eliminating them from the playoff race even before their match against VP.
NiP have performed well in other online environments such as ESL Pro League, yet only amassing a .500 record throughout the ECS season is a bit of a letdown.
Mousesports fail to impress
The most shocking performance throughout the season belongs to seventh-placed mousesports, who for most of the campaign have sat in the top five of the world rankings. In the ECS, however, mouz have struggled all season long, astonishingly finishing with the same record as VP at 7-11, albeit with a +57-round differential in comparison.
This week saw mouz secure a poor 1-3 record, a split with second-place G2 before a shocking loss to Gambit with ANGE1 standing-in for seized due to illness. This is the culmination of a prolonged steady drop off for mousesports, with the team struggling while other teams begin to assert themselves.
The top four join NRG Esports, Cloud9, Team Liquid and Luminosity Gaming from North America in moving on to the Season 5 Finals to be held at the SSE Arena at Wembley, London, in June. Astralis and FaZe Clan have been drawn in Group A against Cloud 9 and Luminosity while G2 Esports and Fnatic are in Group B with NRG and Team Liquid. The event therefore promises to be quite competitive.