ESL Pro League 18 has just begun, but it has been quite captivating, especially when FURIA won the last chance decider. Although the predictions are quite pessimistic, we shouldn't put FalleN out to pasture. We keep following the major tournament of this fall. Read about other surprises and stories Group B has in store.
Is Heroic still a favorite?
The year started well for the strongest Danish team. Even after the unfortunate BLAST Premier finals, everyone understood that Heroic played with a stand-in and would keep defeating its opponents in the future. However, despite high places at the top tournaments, an unexpected problem arose this spring: the team's performance at long events was too unstable. Before, the team was between 1st and 4th place, but its ESL Pro League 18 and IEM Cologne 2023 results were pretty poor. The world leader should always claim for top places rather than a playoff slot. In September, the stars aligned: Heroic got into the easiest group, and now it no longer feels the burden of responsibility. The main intrigue is not the group stage results but Heroic’s internal struggles during the playoff. At the end of September, Xizt and cadiaN's team will show if its "long tournament curse" is a mere coincidence.
Will the Danish team have a smooth start and secure a path to the final stage? Watch live on September 6 at 17:00 (UTC+3).
Potentially the best version of MOUZ
The European organization has done what no North American top team managed to do. Only MOUZ has created a perfect vertical sports system where the core team consists of its trainees. After the summer transfer window, the long path that lasted almost three years ended: the challenging positions were given to the promising players who knew the coach and the structure. Judging by similar cases, the warm-up period should have ended by September, and MOUZ will take the year's most important exam this week. We have already mentioned the seeding peculiarities: Group B is considered the weakest in Season 18, and even falling to the last chance bracket can be seen as MOUZ's failure. Low expectations also make the situation easier: after the long restructuring, MOUZ is not even in the top ten (according to HLTV). Thus, getting beyond the playoff's first stage will benefit the club's results and reputation.
Which problems haven't been fixed? Does MOUZ academy's vertical system work? We will find the answers right from the first match against MIBR this week.
Is ENCE a stable top team?
Our article devoted to the experimental August team mentioned two people from ENCE, which is a great achievement.
Well, one of them was not a player, but a coach, sAw, the last Finn on the CS:GO team and has a special history, we have told you before.
SunPayus remains the main figure among the active players. After his ENCE transfer, he will likely become this year's best acquisition. Snappi's low performance on passive roles doesn't worsen the game, and the riflers' firepower is enough to complement a promising AWPer and earn medals. We mentioned the "long tournament curse" when talking about Heroic, and ENCE has a similar problem: it is always taking second place. The star roster will hardly earn gold medals even in Malta, but it can still play better than expected.
Snappi recently said that ENCE players can be "stolen" because the organization cannot participate in BLAST's franchised league. Will the team again prove it deserves this slot more than some Evil Geniuses?
ESL Pro League 18 — Group B started on Wednesday, September 6, at 17:00 (UTC+3). Despite their status, one of the weakest groups will feature Heroic, Monte, ENCE, and MOUZ.