Photo: By Timo Verdeil for ESL
‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
The fifth round has been drawn. The matches are:
FaZe vs Cloud9
ENCE vs AVANGAR
NiP vs Vitality
As these will be the final matches in the Legends Stage, I will break down the winning conditions for each of the teams in their respective matchup.
FaZe vs Cloud9
In terms of overall form in the tournament, both teams seem to be of a similar level. Both have struggled throughout the group stage. FaZe started off well by beating HellRaisers, but then lost two bo1s to Renegades and AVANGAR. They then barely survived their encounter with compLexity. Cloud9 smashed MIBR, got smashed by Astralis, lost to Vitality, and have now beaten HellRaisers in a bo3.
Overall, neither team looks perfectly on point in terms of individual or team form. Here is how I currently model both teams map pools. FaZe’s best map is Train. Outside of that they seem willing to play Mirage, Inferno, and Overpass. Their cache looked bad, but their style of play should be better against Cloud9’s compared to compLexity’s. Dust2 is variable and they don’t touch Nuke.
Cloud9’s map pool is as follows. Their best maps are Overpass and Inferno. They seemed decent enough on Cache (though they were playing a weak HellRaisers). Their Mirage seems good. They are willing to play Train if they have to. Cloud9 do not play or Dust2. As for Nuke, they beat Winstrike on it and floated it against FaZe at ELeague. They don’t seem confident on it overall though.
With the map pools standing as is, I don’t think FaZe need to pull any trick punches in the map veto. FaZe should ban nuke while Cloud9 ban dust2. FaZe should pick Train, Cloud9 should pick Overpass. FaZe should then ban cache and that leaves Cloud9 the option of taking it to either Mirage or Inferno. Overall, it’s a slightly advantaged FaZe veto. When you add in additional factors like the inherently higher ceiling the FaZe players have, I think FaZe are likely to win this 2:1.
ENCE vs AVANGAR
This matchup is even in most regards. Both teams are structured teams that have a bunch of rookies playing in their first Major ever. While ENCE is the more structured side, AVANGAR have a clear system and set of principles that they play around. In terms of individual skill, I think the ENCE players have more proven players.
As for the map veto, ENCE have the decisive advantage here. Outside of Nuke and Cache, the two teams map pools overlap. The problem for AVANGAR is that their best maps coincide with good maps for ENCE (Train and Dust2). As for ENCE, they can pick into Inferno or Mirage and have a good advantage in either map. Overall, I think the deciding factor for this series is ENCE’s path thus far. AVANGAR had to play 3 bo1s and one bo3, but none of those were elimination games.
ENCE on the other hand has been playing with their life on the line since going 0-2. They beat BIG and they beat G2. That extra experience in surviving elimination gives them the mental edge going into this matchup. While they have more information of how they play out there, I don’t think AVANGAR can take advantage of that. ENCE should win this 2-0 or 2-1.
NiP vs Vitality
This is another close matchup that has some asymmetrical win conditions for both teams. NiP are the more experienced unit as they’ve been playing together longer and have more skill across their five players relative to Vitality. NBK, apEX and ZywOo are all having volatile performances that range from godlike play to underwhelming. In terms of team structure and teamplay, I think NiP are ahead.
As for the map veto, NiP have stronger maps, but a narrower pool. They are good on Nuke, Train and Overpass. They also play Mirage and Inferno to a good level. They don’t play Dust2 or Cache at all.
This is a problem for NiP as Vitality’s best map is Dust2 and they are willing to play Cache. Outside of that, Vitality have shown that they are willing to play every map in the pool except for Train.
With such differing map pools, it’s possible that the map veto will have a hand in giving a team a decisive advantage in the bo3 series. Given how the map pools work out, the ball is in NBK’s court. He can either pick for comfort or go for punish picks.
Overall, while I think Vitality have the advantage in the map veto, they’ve been less consistent overall. Their best player is ZywOo and he has yet to pop off like he did in the Challengers Stage. As he is the biggest factor for Vitality’s success, I’m siding with NiP to win this 2-1.