2017 promises some of the most competitive and well produced Counter Strike we will ever see. To kick things off, we will have our first 250k+ tournament of the year in January, the ELEAGUE Major. 2016 left us with many loose ends, and this major will tie it all up.
After ESL Cologne 2016, there have been six different winners in seven tournaments over 250k prize pool and only NIP has won more than once. Who is the best? The major in Atlanta will decide it all. Here are four teams ready to be number one.
1. Virtus.Pro (TaZ, NEO, pasha, byali, Snax)
VP showed that the plow is back when they made the finals for both ESL New York and Epicenter. The lack of activity afterward ruined any chances of them staying on the throne for long. They did not attend EPL Season 4 Finals, IEM Oakland, ECS Season 2 Finals, and placed 5th-8th at ELEAGUE Season 2. With no LAN victories to secure their spot as the top team, they have almost given up the title for free.
Virtus.Pro is a force to be reckoned with. With a relatively deep map pool and a ‘never back down’ mentality, VP will slowly grind their opponents out even in the toughest matches. Nuke seems to be their home map, bolstering an impressive 7-0 record in the last three months. A deep run at the major seems inevitable, but will they take back their spot on top?
2. Natus Vincere (seized, GuardiaN, Edward, flamie, s1mple)
S1mple is the solution to Navi’s silver medal problem. While they have shown they are capable of winning, consistency is not there. No longer does Navi rely on their tactical T-sides to win. Instead, they play off individual skill, which they live and die by. Pure aim can win you matches and series, but it cannot win you titles.
With starix as the coach, a system is bound to be put in place. However, you cannot expect Navi to be the same tactical machine it once was. To succeed they must let s1mple shine but have a reliable system to fall back on. I have no doubt that they have worked things out in this offseason. Atlanta is the place for Navi to prove they are the best.
3. Astralis (dev1ce, dupreeh, Xyp9x, kjaerbye, gla1ve)
2016 was a tough year for Astralis. However, with the recent addition of their new in-game leader gla1ve, much has changed. Under the new leadership, a system has been set and the team has flourished. Kjaerbye has finally been activated, turning him into the much needed second star that Astralis lacked. Xyp9x has returned to star form and dupreeh looks to be getting back to his old form.
The pieces are in place and Astralis looks ready to win the big one. They have proven capable of closing out games. Their ct-sides have been monstrous, and they look set to build their dynasty off train and overpass. Astralis’ recent form puts them as one of the favorites to win in Atlanta.
4. Ex-Dignitas (MSL, konfig, RUBINO, cajunb, MagiskboY)
Ex-Dignitas was ready to shake the world after their victory at Epicenter. They have not made it to even a single semi-final afterward. Yet, they are not a fluke. With their tactical system from MSL and trio of firepower, they are a legitimate candidate for the top spot. Each lost after Epicenter has been a narrow one, as they are never blown out.
Many speculate that attending every major tournament for the last few months has affected their performance causing them to underachieve. Regardless, there should be no excuses at the ELEAGUE Major. A win there would solidify Magiskboy as one of the best players in the world and the team as potentially the best in the world.
Picture Credit: ESL, Epicenter, ELEAGUE, Dreamhack