Nick G. May 31, 2020
As WINNERS League enters its third week, fans will see the league’s first qualifier and elimination matches.
After two weeks of play, it’s safe to say that the entire league couldn’t be any closer skill wise, which should lead to some exciting matchups here in week three. There have been a few surprises in how the previous matches turned out.
As always, viewers will be able to tune in on the league’s official twitch channel as all matches are broadcasted during the week. Let's take a look at where we stand today.
Can’t Miss Matches:
- KOVA ESPORTS vs x6tence [June 3 17:00 CEST]
- SKADE vs LDLC OL [June 4 17 CEST]
- Fate- vs Espada [June 5 19:00 CEST]
- CR4ZY vs Nemiga [June 6 15:00 CEST]
Qualifier matches (2-0 Pool)
CR4ZY vs Nemiga
Don't be fooled by the head-to-head matchup here. Technically, these two teams have only met once in Season 32 of MDL but was a different version of CR4ZY. This time around, Nemiga will face off against the Project X core roster, with Ivan “Johnta” Shevtsov as their coach.
CR4ZY has shown some serious potential in its matches so far, with strong rotations and protocols becoming of a top team. They’ve impressed, but they’re the less experienced team in this matchup.
They’ve only met once during the WESG 2019 CIS Qualifier grand final, where Nemiga took a convincing 2-0 win. Both rosters have undergone changes and are arguably stronger for it. The matchup will be a solid showcase of CIS talent, especially considering how the CIS region might have the strongest secondary talent pool in the world.
AGF Esport vs ACTINA PACT
PACT is a team on the rise, beating almost every foe they’ve faced in the current MDL Season. With only a single, 2-1 loss against AGO, they’re arguably the best Polish team at the moment.
The talent pool in Poland is deep, and that depth means that there are several teams capable of taking upset wins in the region. That includes teams with living legends like Filip “Neo” Kubski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas still competing.
AGF has seen more and more international showdowns recently, bolstering their experience against stronger teams. That said, they're the underdog here. Its roster hasn’t been as stable as PACT’s and they might not have spent enough time together to completely gel as a team.
Head-to-head, AGF lost to PACT 2-1 in MDL relegation with PACT posting a 16-4 stomp on Inferno. The beating signals a weaker map pool, but the depth of their map pool matters much less in a best of one. AGF has a chance here, especially with its talented Danish roster. This one will be an entertaining clash of Danish and Polish styles of CS.
SKADE vs LDLC OL
LDLC is a fan favorite and its veteran roster has seen it all in Counter-Strike. That said, LDLC has always been stronger on paper than in the server.
The roster’s experience always has the potential to carry them through tough matchups, and Christophe “SIXER” Xia is capable of taking over the game if he’s running on all cylinders.
Unfortunately for LDLC, SKADE might just be too strong for them. The Bulgarians have been punching above their weight class, notably taking maps off of Complexity, but the roster is inconsistent. That said, those ups and downs can be attributed to the sheer amount of CSGO matches they’ve played recently. LDLC has never met SKADE in an HLTV official before, but either of these teams could have been in the 2-0 pool had things gone differently in round 1.
KOVA ESPORTS vs x6tence
This one is another HLTV first. x6tence has been together for several years, and its first matches with their core roster date all the way back to 2017. Jonathan “JonY BoY” Muñoz has been playing at a high level in the Argentinian Counter-Strike scene for over a decade, but despite being the less experienced roster, KOVA should be taken as favorites here.
Izako Boars vs BIG OMEN Academy
BIG OMEN Academy was a diamond in the rough during the last season of WINNERS League. The roster showcased clever positioning and plays, showing off a level of coordination that is rare among the average “academy” team. Their top-eight finish in WINNERS League Season 3 wasn’t necessarily a surprise but unfortunately, they lack the experience gained from facing off against top international competition.
This should be another day at the office for Izako Boars, but it will end up being a good experience for BIG OMEN Academy.
Fate- vs Espada
The fact that ESPADA isn’t 2-0 right now is mind-boggling. On paper, they’re an incredibly talented team with some legitimately explosive young players like Abdul “degster” Gasabiv and Robert “Patsi” Isyanov, alongside star player Dmitriy “Dima” Bandurka and a CIS veteran Dmitry “S0tF1k” Forostyanko. Fans shouldn’t sweat the upset loss to AGF. ESPADA is the defending champion, and they’re looking for back-to-back titles.
That said, Fate has been on a massive rise and actually beat ESPADA in the open qualifiers for DreamHack Masters Spring 2020 Qualifier. The team’s recent roster changes, however, look like a downgrade.
ESPADA’s long-standing roster makes it a strong team and a heavy favorite in this matchup.
Elimination matches (0-2 Pool)
CLEANTmix vs Apeks
While most thought CLEANTmix would be in the 0-2 pool, Apeks have had a decidedly unlucky run. Despite playing with a legendary player Dennis “dennis” Edman, they were unable to secure a win so far. They’ve been exposed to a gauntlet of better teams due to participating in high caliber events like BLAST Rising and are definitely the overwhelming overdog here. It would be surprising to see if CLEANTmix made this a close game.
Singularity EU vs MKBpro
It’s sad to say, but the hardest part of this matchup is picking a more disappointing team. Fans expected much more from each of them, especially with both teams fielding a mix of younger players and experienced stars. It’s tough to watch one of these talented teams take the loss and go home in this round, but teams have to be competitive.
Despite their weaknesses, this will be one of the closest matchups of the round. That said, MKBpro gets a slight edge due to their highly mechanical, Bulgarian style.
Can’t Miss Matches:
- Yeah Gaming vs TeamOne [June 2nd 7pm CST]
- RBG vs Polar Ace [June 2nd 9 pm CST]
- Chaos EC vs Triumph [June 3rd 7pm CST]
Qualifier Matches (2-0 Pool)
Chaos EC vs Triumph
This is a top-tier matchup between the two favorites to take home the North American trophy in season four of WINNERS League. Chaos is inches away from being a contender for the top spot in North America, especially with the ongoing slump from the region’s top teams. Everyone knows that Joshua “steel” Nissan is a world-class leader, but the entire region has had a pretty rough go of it over the past several months. Even with steel’s leadership, recent roster changes might make Chaos’ gameplan a little more chaotic.
Going up against Chaos in the 2-0 pool is Triumph, a team made up of the region’s most talented young stars. Alan “Shakezullah” Hardeman has a great mind for CSGO and the leadership skills to actualize it. Shakezullah is surrounded by what might be the scariest mix of young players North America has to offer, putting Triumph in the running for the next breakout team in the region. Fans should pay close attention to the roster’s performance, especially in tier-one events like BLAST Rising.
There’s a very real possibility that Triumph will just be a very uncomfortable opponent for Chaos.
Recon5 vs Thunder Logic
Both of these teams are on an upswing, but Recon5 has a higher skill ceiling out of the two. The final map veto will be the ultimate decider. Recon5 should be able to pull off the win, but if Thunder Logic can sneak through Overpass or Train, there’s an upset opportunity.
Yeah Gaming vs TeamOne
Go figure. The Brazilian teams have the unlucky pleasure of facing one another already.
Surprisingly, these two have no official head-to-head matches on record, making the ultimate result a tough call. TeamOne has been in turmoil after losing Alencar “trk” Rossatok to MIBR, but on the other side of the coin Yeah Gaming has also looked shaky.
These teams are both solid second-tier Brazilian teams. While both should eventually make the playoffs, this matchup is too close to call.
Swedish Canadians vs Morning Light
This matchup is a showcase of fairly young players with Dylan “RIKO” Sabin-Arnce being the oldest at the age of 24. His team isn't lacking in firepower, but Swedish Canadians had the upper hand in these team’s previous two meetings. With similar map pools shared between the two, odds are fans will get to see a classic North American Mirage game, with a slight chance at Overpass.
Big Frames vs Under 21
Big Frames is a brand new team, recently adding three new players. Due to their recent formation, fans shouldn’t expect huge things.
Under 21 has a solid core. Ezekiel “KmZ” Hughes, Justin “FaNg” Coakley and Bilal “SPAMMER” Ali have been together since Variance and, giving them a solid foundation here. KmZ can easily take over matches and Under21’s only loss came when KmZ was MIA. If they’re at full strength, Under 21 should have this.
RBG vs Polar Ace
RBG are tearing through ESEA advanced and every other event they can get their hands on. Their roster has been together for 9 months and the motivation to improve is clear from their play.
These are the kinds of teams that fans love to see succeed.
Polar Ace plays a very particular style with an explosive flair. This match will come down to map choice and momentum. In a best-of-three Polar Ace would likely dominate RBG, but best-of-ones can catch teams off-guard. If RBG comes in prepared, a little creativity is all it would take to leave with a win.
Elimination matches (0-2 Pool)
Keep The Comms Up vs New England Whalers
Keep The Comms Up is composed of great, individually skilled players and the recent addition of Alex “Mauisnake” Ellenberg and Colton “BASE” Musella bring a lot to the team. That said, they might not have had enough time to gel together.
On paper, the Whalers lineup is simply stronger.
Warriors International vs Infinity Esports
This is a tough matchup to call. Infinity has what it takes to win, but ping could be a factor as they compete from South America.
As for the Warriors, they’ve been underwhelming so far this season, and will need to bring their A-game if they want to stave off both the South Americans and elimination.
The vetoes here are key. South American teams slay on maps like Dust 2, Inferno, and Train, but the Warriors should take it if it goes to Mirage, Overpass or Nuke. Neither team plays Vertigo, so if any team has been secretly prepping on the skyrise, now is the time to pull it out.