This week attention turns to the G-FUEL ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, for the latest CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) tournament.
The ELEAGUE Premier 2018 – which starts on Saturday and runs until July 29 – has a stacked line-up, full of top teams and intriguing storylines.
MIBR still tinkering
This is the first opportunity to see the new-look MIBR, fielding tarik in place of boltz. MIBR have struggled to find an identity of late, consistently being a fringe play-off team while generally lacking the ability to enjoy deep play-off runs.
boltz was the obvious player to remove given his recent struggles, although the addition of tarik is an interesting one. MIBR’s hope when it comes to the addition of tarik is that he allows Stewie2K to be more comfortable with another North American player – the team is dominated by Brazilians – while also adding some firepower that was lacking in the previous line-up.
One interesting question is whether or not tarik will have any influence on the calling style, as his preferred loose style could potentially suit this team better given the general lack of a Support player.
Count on Golden?
On the flipside of tarik’s move are Cloud9, who after the removal of FNS and tarik are looking towards Golden and STYKO as stand-ins.
STYKO saw his first-play time with Cloud9 at ESL ONE: Cologne, with his new roster falling to two of the best teams in the world in Astralis and Natus Vincere.
The major issue with this line-up is their lack of firepower, with only autimatic and RUSH to carry the fragging department with the likes of STYKO, Skadoodle and Golden generally playing more supportive roles within the team.
Golden does add structure as an in-game leader, although Cloud9 will have minimal time to adapt to this line-up before the event. The hope is that Golden’s system will allow the likes of RUSH and autimatic to flourish, while also allowing Skadoodle more freedom.
Golden had quite a successful time turning around Fnatic, who had struggled beforehand, with hopes high that he can repeat the trick here with Cloud9 looking for a direction.
Na’Vi on a roll
Natus Vincere have continued their improvement, with a first-place finish in their last three events – ESL One: Cologne, CS:GO Asia Championships and StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 5.
The most impressive moment for Na’Vi came with their victory over Astralis in Cologne, although that took a Herculean effort from in-game leader Zeus, with 31 kills in a regulation match-up.
Obviously Na’Vi cannot rely on that day in and day out given Zeus’ general struggles in terms of kills, but the team as a whole continues to evolve around the play of s1mple and electronic. This dynamic duo is arguably the most potent in the world, with a chance to prove it here in Atlanta.
FaZe Clan back to full strength
olofmeister is finally back after his personal issues and will make his long-awaited return to FaZe Clan following his departure on April 1.
This is the line-up that brought FaZe to the upper echelon of Counter-Strike, even though the team had decent success without olofmeister, including winning both IEM Sydney and ESL One: Belo Horizonte.
Still, olofmeister is a true legend of Counter Strike, with dreams that his return will be the catalyst for FaZe to claim this a stacked event.
The key for FaZe, however, still remains rain, who will need to be consistent as the third star alongside NiKo and GuardiaN if the team is to find success.
Snax to eat up opposition?
FaZe’s first-round opponents are mousesports, who are attending their second event with Snax in the line-up.
The decision to add Snax in place of STYKO was one met with mixed emotions, with mousesports removing a supportive element in the hope that the additional firepower and clever play provided by Snax turns out to be the missing link which puts them over the top.
The first showing was fairly poor from mouz, as they fell to the new-look G2 Esports and the Finnish side ENCE. This is a difficult test for mousesports, but this is the type of event they brought Snax in for, as they look to prove they belong in the discussion when it comes to the top teams in the world.
Much to look forward to
ELEAGUE Premier 2018 is shaping up to be one of the better tournaments in recent history.
Astralis start favourites at 2.370 with Dafabet but Na’Vi look ones to watch and are offered at 7.230, putting them third in the outright market just behind FaZe (5.340).
However, there is a huge amount of star power on display and enough talent for any of the teams to cause an upset so maybe mousesports (12.390) or Cloud9 (18.580) could be of interest to punters.