|Stage 2 Division A Breakdown|
A hectic period of rostermania is now in the books, and the Global Pro League is back in business, starting with Division A on Tuesday 15th May at 2pm EST. This division is stacked top-to-bottom with talent, with favourites hard to distinguish. Every team bar FaZe Clan has made a change since the start of Stage 1 (S1), so the true potential of the majority of these rosters is yet to be fully established. Red Reserve, Team Kaliber and Splyce are the most recent teams to alter their line-ups following CWL Seattle, and the extent of these teams’ honeymoon periods once they play on LAN remains uncertain. Even at this early stage, I will try to paint a picture of what you can expect in the upcoming weeks, splitting the teams into the Playoff-qualifiers (Top 4), the Near-missers (4th – 7th) and the 8th place team; someone has to come last. I have used bullet points, but the order of teams in each section is generally indicative of my perspective of their likelihood of qualification.
Qualify for Playoffs (Top 4)
Red finished 3rd in their Stage 1 division, losing out to only Rise Nation and OpTic Gaming. Excluding CWL Birmingham, they’ve had a great year when looking at final placements. Joee and Joshh were the inconsistent players on this team, and replacing Joshh with Skrapz improves this team on paper. Most would consider Red Reserve to be Europe’s best hope moving into Stage 2 (S2) and Champs, and talent on this team should be sufficient to qualify for Playoffs. One potential fly in the ointment is Red’s recent role changes. Zer0 will be switching to a full-time SMG to support Skrapz, while Joee will take over the flex role. Zer0 was arguably the best Assault Rifle (AR) player in the game through S1 Playoffs and CWL Anaheim in Infinite Warfare, so the switch from flex to SMG may shock some. Red believe Joee will use the AR to better effect on the map despite not having Zer0’s gunskill, as Zer0 himself admits he is often overly aggressive. Regardless of whether the team is better or worse given this change, they will be almost impossible to prepare for; with no footage available of the new team. I certainly expect them to come out swinging in the first two weeks’ matches.
FaZe are the only non-APAC S2 team that has stuck together the entire year. They topped their division first time around, edging out Luminosity with a 11-3 record. Their most recent outing was a T12 finish at CWL Seattle, but the ceiling of this team was established at S1 Playoffs where they took victory, defeating OpTic Gaming in 2 Best of 5s. Per sources, Zooma was ready to be transferred to the OpTic roster in their recent change if not for a pay raise, which may have knock-on effects for team chemistry. Replays showed his proficiency with the BAR at S1 Playoffs, and with its elevated place in the current meta, a strong player in this area is imperative for a successful team. Priestahh has proved to be a superstar with every weapon thus far in the season, so this line-up should remain strong in the 2 AR meta, but especially on Valykrie and Saint Marie. They may struggle initially against the honeymoon periods of the new teams, but this proven roster should retain the firepower to qualify; expect a strong performance in the latter half of the league.
EG looked rejuvenated at Seattle, fielding a new roster with Silly and Assault joining Aches and Apathy. They comfortably qualified through Relegation, before dealing with EnVy, Echo Fox and eUnited in bracket play to reach the grand finals, eventually succumbing to the all-conquering Rise Nation. Assault is arguably the most formidable BAR player in the game, with a 1.21 KD at Seattle, and the supporting cast is far from shabby. I doubt they will reach the heights of T2 again, as teams will learn to veto EG’s very strong Saint Marie HP and counter their unique SnD set plays. However, with Bevils on board as coach, their SnD prowess may well continue into S2, as he was the architect of some intricate smoke strategies that proved so successful in Seattle. The appears to have not changed since in light of Gentlemen’s Agreement rumours, so EG should be a strong contender for playoffs this time around.
The 4th spot is very difficult to call, but I have a feeling that EnVy will pip the others to the post. Since SlasheR’s departure, Huke has looked like a different beast, tearing apart all competition in their Seattle pool including OpTic Gaming. They dropped out of the tournament with defeats against EG and Rise, but finished with a 9-1 record in hardpoint. Their SnD was relatively poor, but stellar gameplay in this mode should not be expected immediately. Chino has been an excellent player all year, and he should continue to thrive in his preferred Main AR role. Decemate is the question-mark in this team, but many top pros – namely FormaL – have sung his praises in recent times, and he should only improve alongside more experienced players like Classic and Chino. There’s certainly other teams with a great chance of playoffs, but my money is on Huke the Nuke to deliver the goods.
Just Miss Out (5th – 7th)
Despite a 4th place finish at CWL Seattle, I’m not convinced Echo Fox will break the playoff boundary. They won 4 Game 5s throughout the tournament, alongside a 4-11 record in hardpoint – contributing to a very low 53% map win record considering their placement. It’s unlikely that their SnD aptitude will be maintained into S2, but the capability of the individuals cannot be questioned. With Assault’s dismissal from the roster, Aqua can once again take up his favoured AR position. It was recently announced that Faccento will be swapping with Temp and adopt the Flex role, moving Temp alongside Saints in the SMG department. This is a similar move to Red swapping Zer0 and Joee’s roles, moving the 2nd AR into the hands of, in their eyes, the smarter player. This role swap may be the catalyst driving Echo Fox to a Playoff place, but with Saints’ recent dip in form and awful hardpoint play at Seattle, I can see them falling just short.
Splyce have had a seesaw year so far, being the runner-up at Dallas and Birmingham, but dropped to T20 at Seattle after a poor performance in groups. Theoretically as we move into a 2 AR meta, Tommey and Madcat should have been the perfect duo, but Tommey was reportedly released for out-of-game issues. His replacement is Joshh, a man who helped Splyce to a grand finals appearance at Black Ops 3 Champs. Joshh has historically improved any team he joins up to the medium-term, where personality clashes often come to fruition. Bance will persist as the X-factor for the squad, and there are rumours that he is moving to the flex role on some maps in search of greater consistency. This change will require greater slaying from Joshh and Jurd, a factor I am not entirely confident will be actualised. The ceiling of this team up there with the best in the world, but especially as they have not practised against Division-rivals Red, they may struggle to get a foothold in such a stacked division.
Following a superb start to the year, winning both Dallas and NOLA, tK have struggled in recent times, making another roster change prior to S2. Only Kenny and Accuracy endure from the original team, while Fero and Enable have been drafted in. Methodz was lost to OpTic after tK’s T6 finish at Seattle, after falling 3-2 to Echo Fox in Losers’ Bracket. The upsides are that Kenny has been a superstar SMG player all year long, and Accuracy has been very effective with the AR in his hands. He can take this mantle back from Methodz with the change, but I don’t think the new roster has the firepower to compete across all modes. Fero, Kenny and Accuracy are all strong SnD players, but Enable has been notoriously poor in this mode. Fero has also been a liability in the respawn modes at times, so a robust performance from all members could be hard to come by. I can see this latest change only moving this team further down the pecking order, but if this team clicks like the original WW2 roster, a high chance of playoff qualification remains.
Last Place (8th)
This line-up has left much to be desired throughout the WW2 season. Although the core 3 of Dqvee, Hawqeh and Vortex typically come into their own at this time of year, there is not enough evidence that they will turn it around to predict them finishing anywhere other than last. On the positive, the addition of Reedy led them to 2 series victories at the end of S1. A veteran leader such as Reedy is exactly what the remaining 3 require to reach their peak placings as we saw with Joshh last year, guiding them to a T3 finish at Anaheim and a victory at CWL Birmingham. However, Reedy arguably has a lower skill ceiling than Joshh, and the rest of the team have not reached the individual performance levels of the last 2 years. The high-level practice from the Pro League will help them improve towards the latter stages, but it seems unlikely that Epsilon will achieve more than a few upset victories. This team will probably be the only one resigned to deciding the playoff spots, rather than contesting for them.
I feel Echo Fox and Splyce are equally likely to nab one of these teams’ spots, as the talent ceiling on both rosters is easily high enough. Echo Fox relied on great SnD in their T4 Seattle placing, and the slaying power of Joshh may not be sufficient in the 2 AR meta. Team Kaliber also have a chance, but Enable was more of a last-option pick-up, and there’s no guarantee their teamwork will make up for their inferior firepower this time around. Epsilon are unfortunately an obvious pick for last given the stacked nature of this group. It might be a different story if they were in Division B, but I can see this team providing no more than the occasional upset victory given a brutal S1 and CWL Seattle.
Published on 15. May 2018