This weekend will see the start of the second season of the Gfinity elite series, and with it comes a number of familiar rosters as well as some shake-ups from the previous season. The changes within Reason Gaming see the league lose one British side and gain a Danish one, however the remaining British sides are still alive and kicking, albeit with some minor changes. Prophecy and Epsilon also see drastic changes to their sides, completely removing their previous European-mixtures and replacing them with Bulgarian and Swedish teams.
The first season of the elite series saw the top three spots go to the leagues three European teams, with the fourth place position being picked up by the UK’s excel eSports. Though, despite the final standings going, the Brits did manage to put up somewhat of a resistance in some of their match ups against the continental sides.
Contenders for the top spot
Obviously the international sides are all in with a shout of taking the first place position in the group stages, and naturally therefore the play-offs. The EnVyUs Academy side were strong throughout the last season’s group stage run, dropping only one map in their first round draw against the Endpoint side. The semi-finals saw their downfall, with Prophecy taking them in a three map series that looked almost over heading into the second map. The roster remains unchanged coming in to the second season, however their international escapades over the last few weeks have seen them slightly falter. Though with their company in the Gfinity elite series being perhaps of at a slightly lower calibre than some of their recent opponents, you could be forgiven for thinking that the French side are in with a chance at another almost-clean sweep.
The new roster for Epsilon is yet to be tested in the Gfinity arena, though a brand new season of the ESEA Mountain Dew League has seen them already take a highly contested win over the FlipSid3 tactics side, who are most known for playing amongst the tier one sides that Europe has to offer. They have also benched Owen “smooya” Butterfield for the season, and due to other obligations he has not made it onto the season’s roster. As a now all Swedish side, the team are somewhat of a wildcard. The first few weeks of the season will make it clear what the new composition will bring to the table.
Another new Scandinavian roster has entered the fray with the Reason franchise losing the British side and return to their Danish heritage. The team are currently holding the King of Nordic title having defeated the Swedish KoN roster just last week. They boast an interesting roster with mixed experiences, Oliver “MINET” Ari Minet with the richest, however they have little currently to show as a group of five so it’s really difficult to predict if they’re going to finish first or somewhere more like fifth. One thing is for sure, if Reason Gaming know how to pick their Danes (and history shows that they do) then we should expect to see a strong performance from this side. Plus, a team with Nick “zEO” Jugjeewon on the sidelines is no team to be underestimated.
Based on performances from last season, the exceL side could be in with a shout of maintaining a top four placement. With the question marks surrounding some of the newer rosters and the consistency that this team has delivered, both in terms of roster and performance, it is foreseeable that they could find themselves toppling one or two of the international sides. Especially given that this season is a best of one format, there is no longer the back stop of taking away an evens game for some of the other sides. All it takes is the right map on the night and Jake “jakem” McCausland’s team could be in with a shout for a top four finish.
Another side that finished the season with numerous draws against both the international sides and fellow Brits were Method. Despite failing to win a single series, they actually avoided bottom of the group stage by securing five tied series. Method are another team that might be heavily favoured by the single map format this season. The format changes along could have seen this side with four wins last season given they won the first map in four out of their five ties. The roster is certainly talented, especially given they have now drafted in some European talent of their own, as well as providing a home for Kia “Surreal” Man on his return from playing for compLexity.
Of course, there is also the Prophecy team who themselves have also had an overhaul of their roster. The ex-Outlaws side, or at least a few of them, have been brought in ahead of the second season of Gfinity along with some of their fellow countrymen. The former Outlaws have in the past taken a number of tier two teams on successfully, However as of yet, the new roster are yet to debut on the international stage, meaning they are untested and hard to predict. The new roster could be an easier target for teams like exceL, who will be hoping to take every win they can get their hands on to repeat last season’s performance.
The Infused side actually finished level with exceL last season, missing out on the playoffs only on points difference. In between seasons they have made a couple of changes, seeing the return of George “ZED” Bear to the roster after the departure of team captain James “redSNK” Littlewood. The change up in leadership could see the team advance further than they managed last season, however they will be challenged by all of the other British sides that they face. They have already but forth a bold challenge to the European sides this season, so they have big statements to back up. They could do it, but they could also go much the other way. Their coach, Neil “NeiL_M” Murphy is confident enough to bring out statements to the oncoming European sides. Despite his confidence, I don’t share his opinion.
Finally the Endpoint side, who have come hot off of the back of a ESL UK Premiership win with their new roster, are obviously in with a chance at a surprise top four finish. They too have acquired some overseas resource for the upcoming season, which seemed to help them no-end against their British opponents just a few weekends ago. They have taken a similar approach to the Method side and have access to a team house to enable them to focus on practicing for the Gfinity season. They are probably riding high with confidence coming in to the second elite series season and hence for the first few weeks they may pull some impressive results out of the bag.
My pre-season predictions:
Top three: EnVyUs, Epsilon, Reason
Best British Team: Method or Endpoint
Questionable performance: Prophecy
Most unpredictable: Infused
Of course, none of this really matters once the second season of the Gfinity Elite Series gets into full swing. The results will start to write themselves and as the weeks progress it will become clear how the new teams and modified rosters are developing. We will endeavour to bring a preview of upcoming games each week, starting with week one beginning this weekend.