It’s not hyperbole to say November is poised to be the most exciting month in CS:GO history.
We have the cs_summit 3 starting Nov. 1. Running concurrently will be the BLAST Pro Series event in Copenhagen. A few days later, the attention will switch to North America where the Intel Extreme Masters XIII event will take place in Chicago from Nov. 6-11.
Then, we head south to the familiar climes of Atlanta, Georgia, where DreamHack Atlanta 2018 runs Nov. 16-18. Next up, it’s the ECS Season 6 Finals on Nov. 22-25.
Stick with October for a minute
Before this parade of events starts though, October demands CS:GO fans turn their eyes to Moscow. EPICENTER 2018 — with a total of eight teams set to compete in the offline finals — is set for Oct. 23-28.
EPICENTER 2018 Wild Card Playoffs
Six teams remain in contention to land the two spots available in the EPICENTER 2018 Wild Card Playoffs. Virtus.pro, Swole Patrol, 5Power Gaming, and HellRaisers will be competing for the final two places in the Oct. 23 Main Event.
They will compete in a double elimination bracket qualifier, which starts Oct. 22. All matches will be best-of-three. The winners of the Upper and Lower brackets will then be the two qualifiers to make it through to the finals.
EPICENTER 2017 review
Last year, the tournament took place in St. Petersburg and had a slightly larger prize pool ($490,000 compared to $300,000). The tournament was a triumph for SK Gaming (now MiBR), who landed the $250,000 first prize by beating Virtus.pro in the final. G2 Esports claimed third ahead of Astralis, who were fourth.
EPICENTER 2018 preview
The initial stage of the tournament will see the eight teams drawn into two groups. Each will play the others in the group once over a best-of-three format.
The top two in each group will qualify for the playoff stage and be seeded into the semifinals. The second- and third-placed teams from the group will play their first game at the quarterfinal stage. From then on, it is a simple winner-progresses tournament until the Grand Final. All games in the playoffs are best-of-three.
With Astralis and mousesports opting for rest, this year’s EPICENTER tournament promises to be one of the more open and exciting in recent years. MiBR (formerly SK Gaming) won’t be back to defend the title they won last year, so it will be a new name being etched into EPICENTER folklore later next week.
I would expect Virtus.pro and perhaps HellRaisers to make it through the WildCard Playoffs on Oct. 22. Then, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, and Natus Vincere will certainly be among the favourites to win the tournament.
For FaZe Clan, this is an opportunity to get back to winning ways after being outshone by Astralis for a while now. Similarly, both Team Liquid and Natus Vincere will view this as a great chance to land a tournament victory with the Danish team absent.
However, you cannot discount Ninjas in Pyjamas. While they are not the most consistent side going, they do have the ability to turn it on out of the blue. Nor can you ignore the claims of ENCE eSports, who were superb when claiming the top prize at the StarSeries i-League Season 6 event last weekend. It will certainly be interesting to see how ENCE copes with the marked improvement in class of this field.
While you can make a case for any of the top teams in this event, I feel the smart money should be on Team Liquid. The Dutch team has had a frustrating run of second-place finishes throughout 2018 following their win at cs_summit 2 back in February. They are due for a win and with their nemesis Astralis out of the way.