EPICENTER 2019 is days away! Will mousesports continue their hot-streak, or will we get a new winner this time around?
EPICENTER 2019 is days away! Will mousesports continue their hot-streak, or will we get a new winner this time around? We break down the format, the teams and the odds in this preview of EPICENTER 2019.
EPICENTER 2019 is set to get underway in Moscow, Russia. The event is being put together by tournament organizer Epic Esports Events, and will feature a $500,000 prize pool.
The format for this competition is excellent, with best-of-threes from start to finish. The event will kick off with a GSL style group stage, followed by a single-elimination bracket.
Three teams will be advancing to the playoffs from each group. The winner of the group stage will get a day off as they will advance directly to the semi-finals. The teams finishing in second and third place will have to take the longer route by starting in the quarter-finals.
The playoffs will be seeded based on how the teams finish in the group stage, with the team finishing in second receiving the high seed.
The groups are as follows:
Last year’s winner, FaZe Clan, will not be present in Moscow this weekend. However, it is worth noting that Natus Vincere finished in second place here last year. AVANGAR also had a decent showing, finishing the tournament in third place after wins against NiP and HellRaisers.
EPICENTER kicks off December 17 and runs through December 22.
Heroic are coming off a 13–14th finish at the stacked EPL Finals earlier this month. The Danes lost against 100 Thieves in the opener, and later fell to fnatic in a closely contest BO3 series. Heroic have performed well at the lesser DreamHack Open events, with a win and a second-place finish on their record. However, they have not been as successful at higher tier tournaments thus far. Heroic have gotten fortunate with the group draw here, and they should be able to make playoffs comfortably as EHOME does not pose much of a threat.
We most recently saw Natus Vincere in action at the EPL Finals, where they finished in third place after topping their group with wins against TYLOO, MIBR and Evil Geniuses - a great result for the wallet of Skrilla users and myself, as this paid out at odds of 9.00. With players like s1mple and electronic, NaVi will like their chances against just about anyone. However, the worrying sign for this team has been the form of GuardiaN, who hasn’t looked at all comfortable on the AWP thus far.
It feels like an eternity ago since we last saw Vitality, but it was in fact just a month ago, which says something about how many events we have had to round out the year. Vitality failed to make the EPL Finals, so their most recent tournament was IEM Beijing, where they finished in third place after losing to 100 Thieves in the semi-finals. Vitality have yet to win a tournament since the addition of shox to the roster back in September. Their best showing was at DreamHack Masters Malmö, where they finished in second place with wins against mousesports and Natus Vincere, two teams that they could potentially face off against at this tournament.
The big underdog of this tournament is the Chinese team EHOME. Personally, I would never rule out an upset. However, their upside is making playoffs here and it is still very unlikely due to the BO3 format. EHOME upset TYLOO 2–0 to qualify for this event. A respectable win. However, their recent form has been outright terrible - losing to the likes of OneThree, R-Stars, and 4Bowie, teams that do not hold a candle to any of the opponents that they will be squaring off against in Moscow.
mousesports have been on an absolute tear in the last two months, winning the CS:GO Asia Champions, the ESL Pro League Finals and cssummit 5. Their win at cssummit last weekend was pretty remarkable since they were forced to use two (!) stand-ins over the course of the tournament due to visa issues. mousesports are coming in as the odds on favorite to win this event, which makes sense considering their recent form and their undefeated streak against Evil Geniuses.
We most recently saw AVANGAR at the ECS Finals, where they bombed out of groups with losses against Evil Geniuses and NiP. The tournament before that was not very successful either, as they went out in 5th-6th place at the CS:GO Asia Championships, with their only win coming against the Chinese side ViCi. It is hard to argue against AVANGAR being big underdogs here, but we have seen this team cause some upsets in the past, even in BO3 series.
Evil Geniuses have been on a literal world tour, choosing to attend pretty much every single tournament that they have been invited to. I think it has been pretty clear that this has affected their performance at some of these events, and I think their results would have been a bit more consistent had they not chosen to attend so many events. Just a couple of months ago, Evil Geniuses would likely be going into this tournament as favorites after winning IEM Chicago and StarSeries i-League, two stacked tournaments with great formats.
forZe are coming off a win at DreamHack Open Winter, with wins against FURIA, GODSENT, and Tricked. Despite this, they are coming in as big underdogs here at odds of 34.00. The Russians have struggled a lot against mousesports in the past, and they will likely be in trouble if they were to face them in an elimination match here. However, they will certainly like their chances against AVANGAR in particular, an opponent that they have a lot of history with. The Kazakhs have gotten the better of them for the most part in BO3s, but they have all been close matches.
Usually, I would say that 4.50 is a decent number on EG in a tournament where teams like Astralis, Liquid, and fnatic aren’t present. However, it is well worth noting how much they have struggled against mousesports and Vitality in the past. They have never beaten mousesports, and they have lost their last three meetings with Vitality.
I wouldn’t fault people for riding the hot hand, which is mousesports right now. However, I would personally target Group A for a couple of reasons. Firstly, EHOME does not pose much of a threat which means that Vitality, NaVi, and Heroic are hugely favored to make playoffs here. In addition, the team that finishes in second place in Group A will play against the third-place team from Group B, which will likely be AVANGAR or forZe.
Vitality also matches up favorably against both EG and mousesports, which makes them the best choice at the top of the board in my opinion. Last year’s finalist, NaVi, are also a fine bet at 5.40.