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ELEAGUE: What to expect of the LCQ-matches?

The group stage of the tournament in Atlanta was finished two weeks ago, but before the teams, fully constituted, advance to the Play-off stage, we will witness the Last Chance Qualifier. There, eight different teams, not succeeded in the previous championship's stage, will compete for two slots, allowing to continue their performance at ELEAGUE.

It is worth mentioning that seven out of eight mixtures, participating in the Last Chance Qualifier, have recently arrived from ESL One Cologne 2016, where three of them achieved quite good results, having advanced from their groups. Particularly decent CS was performed by Virtus.Pro, who entered the «top-4» of the tournament, losing out only to Brazilians from SK Gaming in the semi-final of the event.

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The official participants division in the Last Chance Qualifier bracket

Soon we will learn how the «ups and downs» of each team were displayed on their game-level. Matches of ELEAGUE will be back on our screens already this Wednesday, on July 13th, and now we'll discuss what to expect of the confrontation in the LCQ bracket.

The first slot in the Playoffs

ex-Renegades, FlipSid3, Gambit Gaming and Virtus.Pro will split a launch ticket to the crucial stage of the championship. The participants' division in the tournament’s bracket of the Last Chance Qualifier has already been announced, so the teams know the exact names of their future opponents: F3 will play against former Renegedes, and Gambit will compete with VP.

It's worth mentioning that three out of four aforementioned squads have recently entered the «top-8» in by-past Major-championship in Cologne, that already adds a bit of interest to the upcoming matches. ex-Renegades and FlipSid3, the representatives of the Australian and CIS regions are the first to pick a fight. We shouldn't have high hopes for this countering, as the Ukrainian team should easily prevail. The Australians have lost the support of the organization and the captain Chad «SPUNJ» Burchill that will undoubtedly be reflected on their future game. Moreover, by the time of writing, the name of the ex-Renegades' fifth player still wasn't announced, who after the qualifying for the ESL One Cologne 2016 until the present day, have remained «in the shadows».

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ex-Renegades' roster is not fully staffed

F3, in their turn, appear to be pretty confident, and their current game-level is the strongest one they've ever had. After securing the «legendary status» at the Major, Ukrainian team has announced serious intentions for the future, so their performance at the Last Chance Qualifier will be a great opportunity to convince of that both, their fans and critics. FlipSid3 were lacking firepower for a long time, but, after the arrival of Jan «wayLander» Rahkonen, this problem has disappeared and now they’ve got the all the needed resources to rise above the cyber CS:GO-stage.

Whoever was in the fifth player in the ex-Renegades' line-up, they probably will not be able to show a kind of strong performance, having been playing with a new member for such a short period of time. The Australian team has a great potential, but they need much more time to find a right use of it. The upcoming «bo3-semifinal» won't make a splash, as the viewer should expect confident and, probably, crushing victory by FlipSid3.

Despite the fact that the following duo consists of the higher-ranked teams, the power distribution hardly differ from the previous one. Gambit Gaming, who wouldn't be in the list of LCQ-participants under other circumstances (the disqualification of SK Gaming and Team-X), have little chance of winning over Virtus.Pro that can be explained by several nuances. Surely, reaching the Playoffs at ESL One Cologne 2016 by Gambit has pleased fans of the CIS Counter-Strike, but still nobody paid attention to the circs under which it has occurred.

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Gambit Gaming finished first in Group A at ESL One Cologne 2016

The team, led by Dimitry «hooch» Bogdanov had coped with the onslaught of the weakened CLG and Astralis, but when meeting the first serious opponent (fnatic), they had suffered a crushing defeat. Moreover, Gambit's recent results at the tournament in Atlanta (which can be found via the link) were even the bar below, that doesn't add much chances of the success in the upcoming match. In turn, the Poles are gradually regaining their former game-level, and getting into the top four teams at the last Major is a direct proof of that.

Despite the previous loss at ELEAGUE, where in the final of Group F VP happened to be weaker than EnVyUs, Polish players considered the previous mistakes and have the high expectations. Recall the last meeting between Gambit Gaming and Virtus.Pro, which was ended with a crushing victory in a favor of the latter. There is no doubt that this time the CIS-squad will show much more decent CS, but their chances of winning are still small. In the individual and whole-team aspect VP exceed Gambit, «map-pool» of the Poles is wide enough, and «best-of-three» format won't let the unforeseen surprises arise. So, despite the hopes of CIS-fans, Gambit Gaming, most likely, will not overpower the Polish squad.

Following the afore-written forecasts, the finals of the first LCQ bracket will be held in a clash between FlipSid3 and VP. Ukrainian team has approximately the same characteristics as the Gambit, but still surpasses them in the tactical aspect. The captain of F3 — Andrey «B1ad3» Gorodenskiy, has the ability to read the game of most formidable opponents, which has helped his team to secure the victory more than once. We can confidently say that Gorodenskiy is ready for the encounter with Virtus.Pro. During the last tournament in Cologne, FlipSid3 have been almost at their peak, and if they keep the same pace in Atlanta, the Poles certainly won't be envied.

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FlipSid3 have medium chances of victory over Virtus.Pro

However, like to all the «tier-2» squads, the instability is inherent to Ukrainian roster too, while VP are regularly demonstrating the high-class CS at any of the LAN-championships. Both teams play on approximately the same maps, but the Poles have significant advantage in experience and shooting, which makes them the main contenders for the next ticket to the Play-off stage of the first ELEAGUE's season. Virtus.Pro always feel comfortable in the games against CIS-teams and the upcoming match shouldn't be an exception.

The second slot in the Playoffs

The situation in the next bracket is approximately the same. The list of teams, who have received a chance to redeem the defeat in the group stage, was joined by: Counter Logic Gaming, G2 Esports, mousesports, FaZe Clan. The both semi-final matches will be held in a «best-of-three» format, so the audience will witness the following encounters: mouz vs G2 and FaZe vs CLG. The by-past performances of the abovementioned squads differ in output and their current game-level. Therefore, by simple reasoning and comparison of the facts, we can make conclusions, which divide roasters to favorites and outsiders.

In any case, the main focus will be on the favorites of the public — G2 Esports. The French team has promptly managed to take the decent place in the «top-5» ranking of the best CS:GO-mixtures, but still suffers from a shortage of stability. Going back to past events, G2 finished second in Group B, losing out in a decisive match to the Swedes from NiP. Despite a good game during the whole group stage (8 victorious maps in a row), the forces of the French proved to be insufficient to win the finals.

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G2 are still suffer from the «curse» of the Titan tag

This loss didn't undermine their confidence, so they have successfully qualified for ESL One Cologne 2016 and, most importantly, won at the LAN-finals of the first season of Esports Championship Series. However, G2 have failed to repeat the same success at the Major, having  finished on the last line of the standings in Group D (SK Gaming, FaZe Clan, fnatic), again not reaching the Play-off. Now, the Richard «shox» Papillon's team should forget about past failures and brace up in the games of LCQ, where it has the highest chance of ultimate success.

The G2 Esports' rivals will be mousesports, who, like the French squad, have failed to cope with the competition in the group stage of the tournament in Cologne. German team can't boast the same accomplishments as their opponents, but they also deserve to be fully respected. mouz's roster consists of the most talented German players and, if the right scenario, they are quite capable to beat G2. The German mixture's shooting has always been at the level of «tier1-team», but the tactical component has been poor. Even the new coach happened to be not able to fix all the flaws and errors of mousesports, while he, in fact, is one of their greatest hopes for an elevation to the heights of the CS:GO-scene.

Recall that mouz made a good start in matches of Group E, but still having failed to secure it with the victory in the Play-off stage. The team from Germany had unexpectedly lost out to FlipSid3, thereby going to the LCQ. More detailed information about the events that have occurred with mouseposrts and the F3 can be found here. There is no clear winner in the confrontation between mouz and G2, as both teams have never shown stable game. However, the players of G2 Esports are more experienced and skilled than their opponents, so, with the right attitude, they should effortlessly smash the Germans. Moreover, while comfort «map-pool» for mousesports consists of several maps, G2 Esports can show strong CS on any of them (except Mirage, as they constantly ban it). We can't claim that the German team has no chances, but their recent results are quite revealing. It is unlikely, but not impossible that mouz will manage to gain the upper hand in the first semi-final «bo3-series».

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mouz will need all the NiKo's power in the upcoming match against G2

Things are much easier about the next battle — FaZe Clan vs CLG. Both the Europeans and the Americans have secured second places in their groups, but there have been several important changes since then. While FaZe, step by step, are moving towards the progress, Counter Logic Gaming, vice versa, — are losing their former strength. An important downgrade-factor in the CLG’s game is the departure of Josh «jdm64» Marzano, thanks to which they have an opportunity to continue performance at ELEAGUE. Kenneth «koosta» Suen can't cope with the duties of the predecessor jet and the fifth-player's place still takes the coach of the American team — Faruk «pita» Pita.

In total, all this creates hardly the best conditions for the development of Counter Logic Gaming, also depriving them of the possibility to stay at the «top» of the strongest American squads. In turn, FaZe are gradually regaining their form, so ELEAGUE can be the first championship, where we will witness the true power of the European roster. Several sources have confirmed that CLG are planning to make some important replacements in the roster, so we shouldn't expect any serious CS by them this week. FaZe Clan should easily win over the US-team, thus advancing to the final of the second tournament's LCQ bracket.

Taking into account all the above-written forecasts, the final will be likely held between G2 Esports and Faze. Both teams have all the needed resources to win and are equally worthy of continuing the performance at ELEAGUE. Comparing the features of the players of the French and European teams, we can assume that they are similar in many ways. The captains — Richard «shox» Papillon and Havard «rain» Nygaard — have always perfectly combined the qualities of effective fraggers and sensitive leaders, thus contributing to the performance of their line-ups. Such aimers as Adil «ScreaM» Benrlitom and Philip «aizy» Aistrup have been the key to the triumph of their team quite often, picking up to 30 kills at the end of the map.

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Will aizy lead his team to the victory?

Nevertheless, FaZe Clan don't have such a wide «map-pool», that can be profited by their enemy. Since G2 don't play de_mirage, they will be much more confident on the stage of banning the maps. And if the Frenchmen won't make any mistakes in the process of «map-pick», selecting the best options, the road to the victory will be much easier for them, than for FaZe. It doesn't matter, how much talent and individual skill has the European team, as experience and teamwork of the French squad will certainly do their job. Most likely, G2 Esports will be the last to possess the tickets to the crucial stage of ELEAGUE.

Like you, we are looking forward to the start of the first match of Last Chance Qualifier. It is the last step before the eight strongest teams will enter the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which will host the final stage of the first season of ELEAGUE. Bids are higher than ever before, as the teams will compete for a huge prize pool of $1,200,000. We'd like to remind you that the upcoming matches will be broadcasted on the twitch-channel StarLadder5.

photo: hltv.org Author: Ilya «EllanarkJesus» Chabeletz
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