ESL One New York returns for the second time to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where we will have yet another chance to see the best of the best in action. There’s a lot at stake – the $250,000 prize pool is nothing to scoff at.
A total of eight teams takes part in the tournament, divided into two groups. Teams Astralis, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, SK Gaming and Virtus.pro were directly invited, while Team EnVyUs and Cloud9 reached the tournament via qualifiers.
Revamped Cloud9 were the last to clinch the spot in the tournament, beating Rise Nation in the NA Qualifier Finals 2-1. EnVyUs have secured their spot by eliminating G2 Esports in the semis and a win over Gambit Esports in the Qualifier Finals.
Group A contains SK Gaming, Cloud9, Natus Vincere and Team EnVyUs. SK Gaming are favourites to win the game (and the tournament). Without any roster changes and little drama, their performance has been fairly consistent, racking up six big wins this year.
However, Natus Vincere could surprise them if they’re not careful – despite the loss of a veteran, Ladislav ‘Guardian’ Kovacs, to FaZe Clan. However, with the return of Zeus, maybe Na’Vi can turn the tide in their favour. Cloud9 are still a favourite over EnVyUs, although their form has been slipping and their new additions underperforming, while EnVyUs are on the up-and-up after a slew of let-downs.
Group B sees stiffer competition – FaZe Clan and Astralis will fight neck-and-neck for the first place. Much will depend on their form and FaZe, bolstered by the acquisition of two Kovacs, Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač and Ladislav ‘Guardian’ Kovacs, is out for blood. They’re a very strong team and are looking to prove themselves after a lacklustre performance at DreamHack Malmo. The Danes spectacularly beat FaZe Clan at IEM Katowice and won the tournement, but that was over six months ago, and Astralis haven’t been on their A game ever since. Still, we’re certain we’ll see quite as show from the Danish team led by Finn ‘Karrigan’ Andersen.
The competition just looks too stiff for Virtus.pro and Team Liquid to advance. The Poles are aching for a win to get them out of a rut they’ve found themselves in lately – a loss in the semis of ESG Tour from mousesports and a disappointing elimination from group stage at DreamHack Malmo. Team Liquid have always been an unpredictable team, but an upset of these proportions would be unlikely at best – we’ve seed crazier things happen, though.
We hope the rosters have stabilised and that we will finally see the teams at their best. The tournament looks very promising – we’re aching to see if SK Gaming will manage to inch closer to the $1 million Intel Grand Slam prize.
The tournament begins this Friday at 17pm CEST (11am CEDT, 12pm AEST) with FaZe Clan facing off against Virtus.pro and SK Gaming taking on Team EnVyUs.
The Grand Final is scheduled this Sunday 8pm CEST (10am CEDT, Monday 4am AEST). Make sure not to miss it!