EditorialsNew blood, rosters and storylines at ESL Pro League...

New blood, rosters and storylines at ESL Pro League S14

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GROUP A

ASTRALIS

The first team to experiment with the concept of 6-man rosters, and the only one in the current landscape to continue with it added former Tricked AWPer Philip ‘Lucky’ Ewald to their roster and look to fill the gap that Mr. Dependable Nicolai “device” Reedtz left earlier in the year. The 4-time major champions announced that “lucky” would be an active part of the roster and we could see him in action as early as EPL S14.

Astralis showed they are capable of keeping up with the best still, with an impressive run at IEM Cologne, showcasing their old guard still has the hunger as well as the grit to do the impossible. With a dedicated AWPer finally on the roster and IGL “gla1ve” signed for another 3 years, the team can play their natural roles once again. And if the Cologne performance is anything to go by they aren’t looking to stop anytime soon.

HEROIC

Heroic overtook Astralis as the best Danish team at the start of the year, and they did so by winning Pro League S13 on the back of a truly heroic Casper “cadiaN” Moller. But dwindling performances in the tournaments that followed, as well as not being able to replicate the same vigour on LAN saw them drop down to 7th in the world rankings.

Disaster struck once again as Heroic had major issues within the team. As per their official statements their coach Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen had been sharing their strat-book with other teams, and blocked his OWN team from accessing it. This led to him being not allowed to travel with them to Cologne, and to his eventual dismissal in July. The team will look to defend their title, but without a Coach, it will be a tough nut to crack for the Danes.

GROUP B

COMPLEXITY

The Juggernaut is not what it once was. Starting off hot in 2020, and continuing the trend upwards for the first half of 2020, they peaked at #5 in the world. But the shock departure of “oBo” had disastrous after effects. Justin “jks” Savage was brought in, and a top 20 player in his own right, he had difficulty fitting in. With “poison” out with injury, they dropped out of the top 10 and very briefly managed to come back in early 2021, before falling to number 16.

They released long standing coach Jamie “keita” Hall and benched Will “RUSH” Wierzba following dismal runs at IEM Cologne, Blast Premier Spring Final and IEM Summer. They signed ex-Astralis and Cloud9 player Patrick “es3tag” Hansen and brought in Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu as coach.  The two new signings, as well as IGL Benjamin “blameF” Bremer once plied their trade at Heroic and will look to once again, take their team to greatness hoping for a playoff spot at the least for EPL S14.

GROUP C

FNATIC

Arguably the most successful org in Counter Strike, second only to the greatness of Astralis, fnatic was the team worst hit by the transition to the online era. A tournament win in their second online tournament made us believe that it wouldn’t be so bad after all but something worse was in store. Blasting out in last place in every Tier 1 tournament they played in was a HUGE worry for the legendary org, and they needed changes.

They benched IGL Maikil “Golden” Selim who was back for his second stint and AWPer Jesper “JW” Wecksell in June to revamp their roster. Having already signed “Jackinho” the team now sports an international roster, with former Vitality and C9 IGL Alex “ALEX” McMeekin and another Cloud9 graduate William “mezii” Merriman in the starting lineup. They too, should be looking for a playoff spot, but considering they are currently #60 in the world, it may seem like a far cry.

BIG CLAN

The only roster in tier 1 Counter Strike that did not make a roster move in the online era, finally needed a change of scenery after the first LAN in over 500 days. The German organization made the most out of the online era and was the best team in the world for 2 months in 2020, and a top 5 team in the first quarter of 2021. But results since then have been a disappointment, with no silverware this year and continuously getting outranked by better teams, it was time for change.

They go back to their roots of a German speaking lineup, with the addition of Nicklas “gade” Gade from the former North roster. This would somewhat take the load off of current IGL “tabseN” so he can truly frag out to the best of his ability, as “gade” has in-game led before and both of them can share the task. BIG are in group C, arguably the toughest one out of the four, with NAVI, mouseports, FaZe and EG all in their midst.

ESL Pro League season 14 starts a week from now, from August 16 with Group A matches taking place first from August 16-20th.

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