Updated: Sep 23, 2019
So, finally, EU Pro League is back on Monday 23rd September.
PLAYDAY 7 RECAP
It feels like forever ago that we were watching playday 7. In fact it was - 22nd July! That night had certified that there are essentially 3 sub leagues going on for EU PL.
1. The battle for top spot
2. The best of the rest
3. Fighting relegation
THE BATTLE FOR TOP SPOT
Empire and Giants (at the time LFO) had a mighty battle on Clubhouse, eventually drawing. Meaning they both finished on 17 and 16 points respectively. The differential of 3+ points to third place Team Vitality means that - barring one of the "best of the rest" teams winning 7 out of 7 in second half of Pro League - both Empire and Giants will likely finish top 2 and head to Tokoname Pro League finals. At this point it appears they are now playing for the number 1 position.
BEST OF THE REST
Team Vitality, Natus Vincere and G2 Esports are collectively fighting to be the best of the rest. G2 are 6 points from the top two position, NaVi 4 points and Vitality 3 points. In theory any of them need to have a barnstorming run in second half of Pro League and they could displace whichever team finishes second. It is however likely that these 3 teams are competing for who will finish 3rd. For both NaVi and Vitality being the promoted teams this season, this is where they would want to be - safe from relegation threat and safely consolidated as a Pro League team for next season.
Chaos, Penta and GiFu will more than likely create the bottom three teams this season. Wins are hard to come by, with a total of 3 wins from all of these teams amongst 21 fixtures. Most of their points will come from beating each-other.
Chaos have to be the most consistently inconsistent team I've watched - they beat G2, have good runs in tournaments (4th DH Valencia) and then completely flop at others (DH Montreal).
Penta have had their well documented issues but are quietly going about their business - had a couple of results in the first half of the season gone their way (Empire on Bank & Vitality on Kafe), they could have been sitting mid table on 8/9 points.
GiFu look like a total mess, Slebben and Gomfi now having left with Movetaho and Jonitr in to replace them. It will be interesting to see what happens with them, they're all but confirmed to be in relegations and are likely just focusing on that.
PLAYDAY 8 PREDICTIONS
GIANTS vs GIFU
Its a difficult start back for GiFu. Playing the one of the form teams of the competition. The map pool for this fixture is Bank, Border, Coastline, Consulate and Kafe. I think that GiFu will ban Border as they always seem to and also Bank - as V Giants are very strong there. I think V Giants will ban out Consulate and likely Coastline (banned 3/7 in 1st half). Leaving the map I think they will play being KAFE.
I don't see how GiFu don't suffer another defeat here to be honest.
G2 vs CHAOS
The corresponding fixture in 1st half of the season saw a shock result with a fantastic game plan by Chaos on Coastline. G2 have had a mixed season thus far and defeat at Raleigh alongside going out of Dreamhack Montreal at group stage will most definitely have an impact on them. I expect them to have fire in their bellies and come out strong to make a statement.
The map pool for this fixture is Bank, Clubhouse, Coastline, Consulate and Villa.
I see G2 banning Clubhouse and Consulate. They haven't played either this season yet and have lost both maps recently in majors/minors. They've left Villa open throughout the season and all minors/majors. Chaos ban out Bank consistently which leaves them Clubhouse or Coastline. Coastline is historically one of G2's stronger maps but I think we will see Chaos ban out Clubhouse and play COASTLINE. It seems to be their strongest map for sure - their only two PL wins came on this map.
I see G2 taking this one, with Chaos really struggling to keep pace.
VITALITY VS NATUS VINCERE
The old rival. There may not be an actual rivalry/storyline between these two teams, however both played Season 9 CL, both got promoted and they know each other well. In CL lost to Vitality twice in regular season but beat them in the final of the playoffs 2-1 in a best of 3 to be promoted. Vitality seem to have the edge in league fixtures, also beating NaVi earlier on in S10 PL.
The map pool for this fixture is Bank, Border, Clubhouse, Coastline and Consulate.
NaVi religiously banned Bank in first half of S10 PL, so that will be their first ban IMO - their second could well be Clubhouse, they don't really leave it available and Vitality beat them there earlier this season. Vitality will ban out Border - given how strong NaVi are there. Their final ban may well ban Consulate - NaVi have always left it open and were confident enough to take Empire there earlier on in the season. I therefore predict we will see COASTLINE to be played.
I see this resulting in a very close affair and could be a 7-5 either way.
PENTA VS EMPIRE
For all of Penta's documented troubles in game and outside - when they played Empire on Bank they lost 7-5. If you go back and watch that VOD there were two rounds where Penta could have won but for Echo being in play and stopping the plant in a 1vX scenario in two separate rounds. Had one echo drone have been dealt with in them rounds then Penta may well have won 7-5 or drawn 6-6 with the best team in the world.
With Empire - they're the form team, the team to beat and having secured their SI 2020 place and all but secured the Japan finals place they'll be feeling good about this.
The map pool for this fixture is Bank, Coastline, Consulate, Kafe and Villa.
Penta will likely ban out Coastline - I don't expect them to want to go there just yet given how Chaos showed them up on it in 1st half of the season. I also think they will ban Consulate given they've banned it 3 times this season and Empire are strong on Consulate.
Empire will ban Villa as they always do any chance they get. Their next ban is more interesting - its between Bank or Kafe. Now Empire have been wobbly on Kafe and also came very close to losing vs Penta on Bank - so this makes it a 50/50 but I think they will choose to ban Bank and play KAFE
I actually see this being a lot closer than people will think/vote for in the community poll
If you've read through this far - thank you for taking the time to read. Please leave a comment below with your predictions!