Photo: By Bart Oerbekke for ESL
‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
The Major quarterfinals are upon as. As that’s the case, I’ll be breaking down the win conditions for each teams in their respective matchups. In this first part, I’ll be looking at the quarterfinals that will be played on Feb. 28. The matches are Na`Vi vs FaZe and Liquid vs ENCE. I was also able to get Karrigan’s take on the map veto of both quarterfinals.*
Na`Vi vs FaZe
In terms of overall form, I’d favor Na`Vi over FaZe. While FaZe have the better skill across the board, outside of NiKo, most of it hasn’t materialized in the server. As for Na`Vi, all three of their stars look to be in good shape: s1mple, electronic, and flamie. While Zeus will always be an anchor in terms of individual play, that isn’t enough for me to balance the scales in FaZe’s favor.
In terms of team form, Na`Vi look like their typical selves. They have a high range of performance which oscillates from extremely good to very shaky. They are currently somewhere in the middle of that. As for FaZe, they haven’t looked that convincing this Major. They nearly got eliminated by compLexity in the fourth round and have yet to show the form of play that I associate with this team. Neither team has yet to hit their peak forms at this tournament yet.
As for the map pools, here is what I know of Na`Vi. Their three best maps are: Overpass, Train, and Mirage. They can play Inferno and Nuke. Their Dust2 has been a non factor when up against elite sides.
As for FaZe, they are a bit tricker as they’ve only recently changed lineups. At this moment the five maps they seem willing to play are: Train, Mirage, Inferno, Dust2, and Overpass. Their cache is still up and down. Nuke still seems to be a no go for this team (they did float it against Cloud9, but that looked more like veto chicken to me than actual confidence on the map).
Na`Vi don’t play tricks in their map veto unless faced against Astralis. As that’s the case, they’ll ban cache. As for FaZe, my current assumption is they ban nuke. While they could float it again, Na`Vi have shown enough competence on the map that I don’t think FaZe will be comfortable letting it through. After that, Na`Vi should pick Train. While FaZe are good on that map, Na`Vi are the number one team on Train. As for FaZe, I’d go for either Inferno or Dust2 depending on what they are most comfortable on. For now I’m edging it towards Dust2. Na`Vi will then ban whichever pick FaZe didn’t make, while FaZe ban overpass. The final map should be Mirage.
Overall, I like the map veto for FaZe in this instance, but the biggest problem to me is form. Na`Vi have looked better in this tournament compared to FaZe. While FaZe can kick it up a notch, so can Na`Vi. So I’m going with Na`Vi beating FaZe 2-1.
Karrigan’s Take: The FaZe vs Na`Vi has a lot of questions in the veto. Seeing FaZe willing to play nuke as a 3rd map against cloud9 and vetoing overpass. For me it comes down to how much FaZe is fearing their overpass. I see Na`Vi’s pick being either nuke/overpass, to punish and test FaZe on those maps. FaZe has train as one of their strongest maps after roster changes, so that’s more like the 3rd map as both teams are willing to play it.
Liquid vs ENCE
In terms of tactics, teamplay, and individual skill, Liquid look to be in much better form compared to ENCE. All of their players are firing off and they have comfortably closed every game they’ve been in. On top of that, they have an informational advantage as Stewie2K only recently joined the team, so there is a lot less data about their tendencies and how they play.
ENCE on the other hand have struggled through the Legends stage as they started 0-2 down. Overall, it was good for the team as it gave them the experience to fight and claw back in a tournament with their life on the line. Even so, that extra bit shouldn’t be enough to close the gap between them and Liquid.
In terms of map veto, this is hard to predict. We still don’t know how Liquid’s map pool looks like. As for ENCE, they often make intelligent map vetos based on relative strength and weakness. Based on what little data I have, here is what I think happens. ENCE bans cache as it’s their permaban. Liquid ban Train as they don’t like to play it and ENCE do. ENCE will pick Mirage. While Nuke is also possible, I don’t think they want to start their quarterfinals on the T-side of Nuke. Liquid in turn will pick Inferno. Based on their old veto patterns before Stewie2k joined, Liquid generally favored comfort and I suspect their strength on inferno hasn’t changed much. ENCE will then ban overpass as it’s their least tested map among the remaining three. Liquid will ban nuke as they should be confident on Dust2.
Overall, this is a comfortable map draw for both teams. As that’s the case, the map veto shouldn’t affect how the series plays out. Overall, Liquid are a level above ENCE and so I’m picking them to win this 2-0.
Karrigan’s Take: If ENCE trust their nuke to a certain level, I see them picking it against Liquid, who hasn’t played nuke officially with the new lineup. Liquid is still a strong team on mirage, so I feel like ENCE has to take the chance and let Liquid prove to all other teams they are a strong nuke team. As for 3rd map it should come down to either dust2/mirage, because it’s something both teams like to play.
*Both of Karrigan’s takes were edited for clarity