Asstralis are out
ESL Pro League Season 16’s tedious group stage is almost finished with the conclusion of Group C.
There were a couple of teams who disappointed, most notably Astralis, while Complexity was hugely impressive with a vast improvement since signing Hakon “hallzerk” Fjaerli.
Thankfully, this group wasn’t as dull as Group B. Let’s get into it.
A painful early exit for Astralis
Astralis came into the group as the highest-rated team on HLTV, looking peachy in their position of fourth. That mattered for little, however, as once again they disappointed against teams they should be beating. In fourth place, Astralis failed to qualify for playoffs.
Asger “Farlig” Jensen had a pre-benching buff and played the tournament of his life, but ultimately this was overshadowed by Benjamin “blameF” Bremmer having a stinker. Only in their initial loss to Complexity did blameF star as he usually does.
It’s really beginning to feel like nothing can save this Astralis team. Nicolai “device” Reedtz will, of course, be a huge upgrade in terms of firepower should they sign him, but what does it matter when others are misfiring?
Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke is relied upon too heavily as Astralis aggressive force and is often letting the side down. BlameF is so commonly played out of rounds. As for Andres “xyp9x” Hojsleth? Well, he’s just finished.
Losses to HEET and Complexity are inexcusable for a team of Astralis’ supposed caliber. On this form, we wouldn’t even be surprised if they fail to make the Major. They only just scraped their place in the RMR. It feels like this team needs a total overhaul.
Complexity is back
From the utterly disappointing to the pleasantly surprising, Complexity seems a changed team with the addition of hallzerk. The Norwegian is delivering a bite on the AWP that the team was lacking before, and it’s improving them across the board.
Michael “Grim” Wince had a fantastic group stage and is beginning to live up to the potential that once pushed Team Liquid to sign him. Justin “FaNg” Coakley is also starting to get a feel for aggression in tier one Counter-Strike too. Combined with Ricky “floppy” Kemery, this team doesn’t only have a strong AWPer now. It has a strong rifle core as well.
Even Johnny “JT” Theodosiou is finally being validated as an IGL; the improvement to this team is genuinely night and day.
Third place in the group is an incredible achievement considering this team’s recent history. They will struggle to ever knock Liquid off of its ‘kings of NA’ perch, but they will at least begin to challenge for better placings.
Don’t sleep on this Complexity roster any longer. They’ll be shooting up the rankings in no time.
What if HEET didn’t start slow?
HEET put on a brave showing at Pro League, despite them finishing last in the group. They might have been demolished by ENCE and Complexity, but they did manage to take a map off MOUZ and Heroic. Their win against Astralis isn’t quite Endpoint taking down NAVI, but it is a big scalp for the French side nonetheless.
The most important thing going into Pro League for HEET was to gain experience in time for the RMR, and they’ve done that. Expect to see it come to play in that event. There will be far fewer mistakes and far more assurance of how to play against the top teams as a result of their time here.
Unfortunately, however, it is hard to see how far HEET can really go. Audric “JACKZ” Jug was a smart pick-up, Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro proved he can still tussle with the big boys, Aurelien “afro” Drapier also looks to be capable with the AWP. Sometimes though, it just isn’t enough.
This team might be better than the sum of its parts, but they absolutely do have a firepower deficit. Most of the players are on the older side too. It’s hard to see who can step up to be that future star that allows them to push on.
We’ll see more of HEET in the coming months and hopefully after that, but it’s unlikely they’re ever really going to become a challenger.
MOUZ has seemingly completed its run of academy promotions after promoting Dorian “xertioN” Berman before the event. The Israeli starred in their opening game, earning himself a 1.25 HLTV rating in the 2-0 win over Heroic.
It’s starting to become seriously impressive how this team can keep promoting the youngsters and improve every time, rather than come to regret it months later. Finishing first in the group is definitely considered to be ‘exceeding expectations.’
The move to promote xertioN seems to have fixed some of the role disbalance that was potentially being seen at IEM Cologne. David “frozen” Cernansky often looked played out of rounds in Germany, but that wasn’t the case here in Malta. Having a more impactful player in the pack certainly helps that.
Being a new team once more, it’s hard to predict what this team’s ceiling could be. Astralis is, let’s face it, terrible, and Movistar is all but finished after losing Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia. They’re sitting in sixth place in the rankings right now. Top five could be easily achieved following this event and heading into the Major.
Heroic start to click
Are things finally starting to click for Heroic with Jakob “Jabbi” Nygaard? It certainly looks to be the case. They finished second in the group after winning four games following their loss in the opener to MOUZ. That run included beating Astralis to knock them out of the tournament. We’re sure Casper “cadiaN” Moller is absolutely thrilled.
To be honest, so are we. The same goes for the AWP IGL’s performances, too. He displayed a level of consistency scarcely seen from him, improving on nearly all of HLTV’s recorded metrics.
Everyone knows what to expect from the rest of the team, so it really is Jabbi that’s most notable this time round. The young gun has somewhat struggled in new roles since coming into the team. While it was always clear he was an upgrade on Ismail “refrezh” Ali, it didn’t necessarily look like it had improved the team.
Thankfully, it’s finally looking like that move has paid off. It’s hard to see them ever really challenging the likes of NAVI and FaZe, but you can definitely expect this team to be in and amongst the pack chasing them.
ENCE need more time
This group was always going to be a tricky one for the new ENCE team. Not only did they have two new players, but they had two new players while coming up against teams either long established or with points to prove.
Hopes were high after they absolutely dismantled HEET, but those hopes quickly faded into nothingness as the rest of the games played out. They lost 8 maps in a row to finish in fifth place in the group.
It is highly doubtful that this will be the new norm. Richard Lewis’ interview with IGL Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer provides a reason to be excited about this team, even if it seems bleak in its infant stages.
Pawl “dycha” Dycha and Pavle “Maden” Boskovic might not be the stars their early 2022 form suggested, but they are at least both stable in their roles. SunPayus wasn’t as dominant as expected, thanks to his Movistar proficiency, but a new system can take time. Valdemar “valde” Bjorn Vangsa’s experience is going to be a huge upgrade.
This tournament definitely came too soon for ENCE. The RMR might even be too soon. But don’t fret. When the time comes, this ENCE team will be back with a bang.