G2 struggle, Cloud 9 excels as ESL Pro League Group A concludes
ESL Pro League Season 17 Group A has drawn to a close, after five days of non-stop CS:GO. While there wasn’t many surprises in terms of qualifying teams, with G2, Cloud9, Outsiders, and fnatic all making it through, it was a rockier journey than most would have predicted for some of the best CS:GO teams.
Here’s what we learned from the opening stages of ESL Pro League Season 17.
G2 are mortal, after all
It’s news that will relieve fans of every other roster, but G2 actually looked mortal during Group A. After months of looking unbeatable, G2 got 2-0’ed by a rejuvenated Cloud9, ending their impressive winning streak. They would even lose a Nuke map for the first time since IGL HooXi arrived, against an otherwise unspectacular fnatic.
It’s probably nothing to worry about – teams can’t be 100% all of the time. However, G2 look genuinely vulnerable at present, perhaps a result of non-stop competitive CS:GO since the season began. With almost three weeks until the playoffs, G2 finally have a chance to recuperate and change up their tactics. Ultimately they did enough to make it to the playoffs, and if the break is utilized correctly, G2 could still be on their way to a third competition win in as many months.
With the Paris Major coming up in May, it would be a terrible time to lose form. But HooXi has coaxed the best out of this team of late, and we’re convinced he’ll do it again soon enough.
“But… It’s EG”
Evil Geniuses are the laughingstock of the competitive scene at the moment. After the Director of Gaming and Performance at Evil Geniuses’ bizarre Twitter meltdown last month, many assumed the team’s reputation couldn’t sink any lower. That is until Evil Geniuses faced an IHC team that looked like a shadow of the roster that captured hearts at IEM Katowice 2023. IHC won the match 2-1, but that’s not the embarrassment here. The Mongolian outfit are rapidly improving, and any team can lose to them when on form.
The real embarrassment began in the post-match interview, when ANNIHILATION stepped up to the microphone. When asked how he felt about the win, he casually dropped the words that kept the CS:GO community laughing. “Yes, I’m happy but… it’s EG.” It wasn’t a sly remark intended to provoke – it was a genuine disrespect for the level of opposition, a damning indictment of the team’s reputation on the server.
Evil Geniuses now face a period of serious reflection, with the team finishing bottom of 4 of the last 5 ESL Pro League competitions. We don’t even know where to start with fixing the team’s many issues, but EG Head Coach Vorborg is beginning by getting blackout drunk.
Cloud9 are Back?
Who are these guys? It was all doom-and-gloom for Cloud9 just a few weeks ago, as they were dumped from IEM Katowice 2023 by IHC. Propelled by sh1ro, who seems to be putting in career-best performances on a daily basis, Cloud9 look like the team to beat at ESL Pro League Season 17. Sometimes, things just click for a team. Every shot hits, and every 1v1 is a win. Right now, things are just clicking for Cloud9.
Dispatching both G2 and Outsiders on the way to the Quarter-Finals, this was not an easy draw for Cloud9. Nonetheless, it was a professional job from the Russian-Kazakh roster, who now face a break in play. Unlike G2, Cloud9 will want the break to be over immediately, with their form so scintillating.
ESL Pro League Season 17 returns on March 1st, with the beginning of Group B.