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ESL Impact set to begin; aiM sole UK representative

An overview of ESL Impact from a British perspective.

by GrimyRannarr

As ESL Impact Season 5 starts tonight, we could have had more UK players and a coach accompanying Mia “aiM” Cooper, but unfortunately, that was not the case.

Jodie “Jodiee” Billington was first brought to many people’s attention when Into the Breach announced her as their second Pipeline player alongside James “bevve” Slinn – both players have since left. But as we grew closer to ESL Impact Season 5 qualifiers, there was hope she could qualify with orgless team Team Violet.

Into the Breach announce first female Pipeline Player

The Finnish core had made their HLTV debut by making the finals of the ESL Impact Winter Cash Cup 3, where they lost to NAVI Javelins. On the way to the finals, they beat teams like FORZE Ladies and NIP Impact – who were playing with a stand-in, but still a big name to fall.

The upcoming team showed some potential heading into the two EU qualifiers, but misfortune struck and they didn’t make it through either.

In the first qualifier, they only won one game and lost to Questionmark in the third round. In the second qualifier, they similarly lost in the third round to 5bites after beating Wartex Female. In the unforgiving single-elimination BO3 format, that was their last chance.

Team Violet will be looking to continue while looking for an AWPER to replace Ljudmila “Mileyyy” Mikitová who moved to Questionmark.

As mentioned previously, Season 5 could have featured a UK coach. Amirali “AmirZ” Zahedi (dual Iranian-British nationality) coached Aces in season 3, where they won two games and finished fourth in their group. They failed to retain the spot and didn’t qualify for Season 4.

In the meantime, AmirZ coached at the Female Bay Cup LAN last year in Hamburg, where his team Washington 5M placed 3-4th after narrowly losing out on the finals.

Entering Season 5, AmirZ started coaching for Questionmark featuring some very strong names captained by ex-1WIN Gang IGL Tamilla “irbitka” Bashirova. Alongside the Azerbaijani, QM featured AWPer Mayline-Joy “ASTRA” Champliaud previously of NIP Impact, and ENCE Athena duo Halat “Missy” Naby and Tude “oxycet” Gürsoy. To round off the roster QM brought in Romanian newcomer Anastasia-Raluca “twix” Munteanu.

Similarly to Team Violet, QM had made good strides leading up to the open qualifiers as they made the finals of the ESL Impact Winter Cash Cup 2, beating Team Violet and NIP Impact before losing to BIG EQUIPA.

Unfortunately, they suffered the same fate as Team Violet and couldn’t qualify for the upcoming season. After beating Team Violet in the first qualifier they subsequently lost to Spirit Female in the quarter-finals. And in the second qualifier, they were knocked out at the same stage by VP Angels.

Questionmark will continue playing together but with one roster change so far. Missy has stepped back and ASTRA moves off the AWP, to fill the role, the team has picked up Czech AWPer Mileyyy from Team Violet.

But it is not all doom and gloom. As mentioned aiM will be entering her third season in ESL Impact. She started in Season 3 with Flames Shieldmaidens, placing 9-10th after winning two games. After Copenhagen Flames closed doors she moved to NIP Impact leading into Season 4. You can find out more about her move in an interview UKCSGO did with her at the time:

aiM on joining NIP Impact: “I am playing totally different positions, no roles are the same.”

In Season 4 NIP Impact retained their spot winning three games. Heading into Season 5, AWP and IGL ASTRA left at the end of the previous season. This void was filled by aiM‘s former team-mate Anna “⁠ramziiN⁠” Ramsing, who will handle both sniping and in-game leading duties. The two had previously played on Flames Shieldmaidens before the Dane moved over to G2 Oya. After G2 let go of their women’s team in December, ramziiN⁠ had been looking for a new home.

ESL Impact Season 5 runs from March 6th to April 20th before LAN finals in Dallas, one of only two finals this year. Europe will be the main contributor to the LAN Finals as they will have four spots, previously having three. The online portion contains two groups of six teams playing a single round-robin, whereby, the top two of each group qualify.

aiM‘s NIP Impact will be playing in Group A. Alongside them are teams like ex-Nigma Galaxy – who have won every season of ESL Impact so far. They replaced Ksenia “⁠vilga⁠” Kluenkova with Zainab “⁠zAAz⁠” Turkie (formerly of G2 Oya) in the off-season and now compete under the banner ‘Pigeons’.  The two-time team of the year and six-time LAN winners are joined by teams who all made roster changes between the last season and now.

GUILD fe qualify back into ESL Impact while replacing Kaia “KiKi” Holmen with Marta “D7” Asensio from BIG EQUIPA.

BIG EQUIPA changed their IGL as Aida “Aida” Simão moves to ENCE Athena. As previously mentioned D7 moved to GUILD fe and they replaced the two with another two remnants from the G2 Oya lineup – veteran Julia “juliano” Kiran and Ukrainian youngster Alexandra “kyossa” Tykhonska.

BIG are not the only team to make IGL changes. ENCE Athena picked up AWPer and IGL Lea “xia” Vagová halfway through last season, but now Aida has come in to take over calling – allowing xia to focus on fragging. The Portuguese IGL joins upcoming 17-year-old rifler Emma “Emmsan” Mattsson replacing oxycet and Oleksandra “manka” Kruspe.

The final team to round out Group A is Astralis W. After only winning one game in Season 3 and failing to qualify in Season 4, the Danes return back to ESL Impact after taking the final spot. Astralis W lost in the quarter-finals to GUILD fe 2-1 in the first qualifier, but stayed strong and beat FORZE Ladies in the 3rd place game in qualifier #2.

NIP Impact have played in every season of ESL Impact, finishing 5th–6th twice and 7th-8th twice. Never have they made the LAN finals. With ESL changing the Impact circuit for 2024, there are fewer LANs, thus putting more importance on the two remaining offline tournaments. More slots are going to EU teams, but it will not be easy.

British woman pro joins second-best Impact team

NIP Impact play their first game of the season versus Pigeons on the 7th of March at 18:30 GMT.

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