Teams will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Series 3 winners SK Gaming. They won the $250,000 first prize when they defeated FaZe Clan in the June final in London.
However, before the league stages can begin, there was the small matter of deciding the final two places in both leagues through the Promotion Playoffs.
European, North American Promotion Playoffs
Part of the ECS’ appeal is that underneath the top division, there is an active development league. The top two teams from here take on the bottom two from the last ECS in the Promotion Playoffs.
The winners of these playoffs will then play in the top division, while the losers will have to earn a shot at promotion in their respective developmental league.
In Europe, it was Virtus.pro and Fnatic who finished in the bottom two positions last season. They were drawn to play against North and Space Soldiers, who were first and second in the development league.
Virtus.pro took on Space Soldiers and came through a very evenly contested match 3-1. However, that score doesn’t tell the tale of how close the games were with Space Soldiers, who pushed the top-tier team hard in each of the four games.
It was a similar story in the match between Fnatic and North. Four hugely competitive matches ended with Fnatic edging out a 3-1 victory to reclaim their spot in the top flight.
North America Promotion
In North America, it was a similar story. Luminosity Gaming and Ghost Gaming were in danger of losing their top-flight privileges. They faced Tempo Storm and Misfits from the lower league.
In the playoffs, the top-tier teams came to the fore. Luminosity Gaming were clear 3-0 winners over Misfits. In the second, the individual maps were closer fought, but once again Ghost Gaming came through with a sweep.
ECS overview and qualifiers
The ECS is split into two qualification zones — Europe and North America. Ten teams compete in each. That’s the two teams who earned victories in that zone’s Promotion Playoffs, plus the eight teams that retained their rights from last season.
Over the next eight weeks, the teams will play each in two best-of-one series for a total of 18 games. The top four teams from both zones earn places in the ECS Season 4 Finals. The 5th through 8th teams confirm their places in the ECS Season 5 event next year.
The bottom two teams repeat the cycle and head to next year’s Promotion Playoffs.
Europe League Season 4
The 10 teams competing in the Europe League this season are:
- Team EnVyUs
- FaZe Clan
- G2 Esports
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
There have been a number of roster changes during the past few weeks. Let’s have a look.
- Ninjas in Pyjamas signed REZ to replace his fellow Swede friberg.
- FaZe Clan have been particularly busy. GuardiaN came in to replace Allu, and olofmeister replaces kioShiMa.
- Fnatic promoted Golden to their main roster to replace olofmeister. They also swapped dennis for Lekr0.
- GODSENT signed freddieb from Epsilon eSports.
- Mousesports signed sunny and STYKO and let IoWel and dennis leave.
Who will qualify?
There’s four places up for grabs in the ECS Season Finals. It would be a surprise if FaZe Clan, after heavily investing in a strong new roster of players, did not make it. Astralis are always solid performers, as are G2 Esports. These three teams should make it through, leaving just one spot for mousesports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, or Heroic.
North American League Season 4
The 10 competing teams in North America are as follows:
- Counter Logic Gaming
- Team Liquid
- NRG Esports
- OpTic Gaming
- SK Gaming
- Luminosity Gaming
- Ghost Gaming
Like in Europe, there have been a number of roster changes in North America:
- NRG Esports signed Danish player Anj and released American player ptr.
- Cloud9 signed RUSH and tarik from OpTic Gaming and benched n0thing and shroud.
- Renegades signed Canada’s NAF.
- Immortals removed Brazilian player kNgV from their team after DreamHack Montreal. This saw HEN1 and LUCAS1 request to leave the team. Both were benched.
Who will qualify?
SK Gaming and Team Liquid are arguably the two most in-form teams in the North American section. It would be a huge surprise if both didn’t make it through to the ECS Season 4 Finals.
After these two teams, the competition is going to be fierce among Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, OpTic Gaming, and NRG Esports. Immortals would be a solid third choice, but with the issues surrounding their roster, will they be as strong this season? Time will tell.