ESL Pro League 18: Main Intrigues Of Group A

Marina Magomedova
29 Aug 2023

The next ESL Pro League season starts on August 30, which may be the last one for CS:GO. We will tell you about the key storylines for each group before they begin. On Wednesday, the powerhouses of the scene such as Vitality, Astralis, Ninjas in Pyjamas and FURIA enter the fray. Read about what teams may be disbanded, and who will advance further without any doubts - in the material of

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Andrei "ArT" Piovezan

Back in mid-summer, analyzing transfers "on paper", we mentioned the transfer of the Imperial duo to FURIA as questionable. We doubted the whole broken system of the team, which had been built over the years and could only mean a complete replacement of "saffee" and "drop" without rearranging the roles. By August, everything that could have had a negative connotation beforehand came to light: low arT stats even without the captain role, and poor AWP compatibility with his captain's role. It's important to realize that FURIA is not Heroic, and that goes for the structure of the game with AWP. cadiaN has one of the lowest AWP metrics positions in every tournament, suggesting more frequent use of the AK-47/M4 in the Full Buy rounds. HLTV analysts noted that the Danish team is the only one in the top 10 who plays a quick exchange model, when players go to any key position in a "pack". FURIA is more like - a classic team, but with a captain-sniper. The thing is that no one over the last three seasons would call Jame's performance the main problem for "the Bears": on the contrary, the fans complained more about the quality of the rifflers' play. FURIA has a sniper captain for the second year in a row, although he himself probably realizes his uncompetitiveness above the top-20 level.

As a result, we see the team where the key position (AWP) is declining over the course of two months, which is unacceptable at the top level, and the once top players like "yuurih" and "KSCERATO" are experiencing a slump. Some have speculated that the reason also lies in "FalleN's" calls. Whatever the case may be, the main test for the Brazilian team will happen within the next week. Will they start talking about disbanding after another failure?

Sanzhar "NeaLaN" Iskhakov

From "getting paid for just sitting there" at Evil Geniuses to "the best CIS captain" in HLTV's top 10 in just one month: the change of Kazakh's media image is impressive. Memes aside, the integration of the player into GamerLegion has actually gone better than expected. The fact that they made it to the top eight of both top tournaments of the summer and maintained a strong position in the top ten teams in the world is testament to that. Remember how "siuhy" was considered an idol at the time of his move to MOUZ, and people even thought he would take "HooXi's" place at G2, making GamerLegion's decline seem like a matter of time. But GamerLegion was able to maintain its strong core without losing much even from "iM's" transfer. As it turned out, replacing one Romanian with another refreshed the game just as much as the transfer of "flameZ" refreshed Vitality, and "iM" in Natus Vincere, in his turn, didn't live up to expectations. Right now GamerLegion looks as balanced as possible, and "neaLaN" is a good captain who really lacked good shooters in Evil Geniuses.

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GamerLegion's future also looks lucky: they have a chance for the playoff in the grid with Grayhound and even FURIA. If everything happens the way the Brazilians' skeptics predict in this group, we will see the European roster in action in the second half of September. In a week we will find out if "neaLaN" will confirm his meme title of "Best CIS captain".

This was the buzzword for any version of Astralis after the departure of "device", but no version of the roster since then has been able to match the current team. This has only become possible with the return of Nicolai Reedtz. On the one hand it's great to see the legendary sniper back after a year out of the game. On the other hand, it's sad that with an abundanc of young talent on the Danish scene, no one has been able to carry on the legacy of Reedtz.

The current version of Astralis after the summer transfer window is considered the most viable in recent years. There is a captain shooting at the level of "gla1ve" in 2018, a new "Magisk" in the person of "Buzz", and a duo of experienced shooters "b0RUP" and "Staehr". While FURIA and even Cloud9 are questionable, the public more often than not thinks that Astralis has a ceiling that one day needs to be jumped through. An average period of a month and a half, which experts give each team for building team chemistry and stress test, has already passed. However, the Danes were a little less lucky with the grid than GamerLegion, so there is only a chance for them to pass only from the 3-4 place. Unlike the victory over Vitality in the semifinals, there are no doubts about this option. Will Astralis be able to jump above the first round of the playoffs this time?

Nicolai "Device" Reedtz

Group A matches will kick off on September 30 at 17:00 GMT+3. FURIA will meet Movistar Riders in the first round, and GamerLegion with their Kazakh captain "neaLaN" will play against Grayhound. Follow the news of ESL Pro League 18 on our website!

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