eSports action this week is dominated by both the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational and Counter Strike: Global Offensive ESL Pro League, alongside the Hearthstone Global Games, where a whole host of European teams will battle to end the dominance of Asian winners over recent years.
With the first stage of the LoL Spring Split having ended, as well as the Mid-Season Invitational play-in stage, the group stages kick off this week, with the likes of SK Telecom T1, Team WE and G2 Esports among the teams who automatically qualified for this phase of the competition.
League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational
SK Telecom T1 vs Team SoloMid
As defending Champions in both the World Finals and Mid-Season Invitational, SK Telecom T1 perhaps need no introduction. However, as the number one seeds for the Invitational, they are the team that everyone else will want to beat, with their dominance in Asia not quite as fierce as it once was. They suffered losses at the hands of Royal Never Give Up and Counter Logic Gaming on their way to victory last year, with the likes of “Huni”, “Peanut” and “Faker” hoping to defend their title with no such losses.
Their opponents on Thursday are North American’s Team SoloMid, who failed to make it past the group stages of the World Finals, despite heavy expectations. With “Wildturtle” rated as one of the poorest ADC’s in the entire competition, things are looking bleak for Team SoloMid.
SK Telecom T1 to win against Team SoloMid @ 1/10 (SkyBet)
G2 Esports vs Team World Elite
G2 are widely regarded as the finest European team within League of Legends, with one of the best records in the business. However, G2 have stopped focusing so heavily on winning the EU LCS, something in which they have generally been able to do with apparent ease. Paying more attention to training may appear to be a gamble to some, with only their results at the Invitational justifying such changes.
G2 will also be hoping to recover from an abysmal performance at the MSI 2016, with an encounter with Team WE hardly the easiest of fixtures to look forward to. The Chinese team have reclaimed their crown in dominant style, and as a result, will be looking to compete on the world stage. The unorthodox playing style of Chinese teams will perhaps cause G2 some issues, however there is little to choose between the duo.
Team World Elite to win against G2 Esports @ 4/6 (William Hill)
Counter Strike: Global Offensive ESL Pro League
Astralis vs Team EnVyUs
Danish superstars Astralis take on Team EnVyUs in the CS:GO ESL Pro League, with a win for the former potentially seeing them leapfrog G2 Esports in the European standings. With their French opponents languishing in the standings as a result of their 10-12 record this season, the emphasis is certainly with the current Esports Championship Series, ELEAGUE Major and World Championship winners.
Team EnVyUs to win against Astralis @ 3/1 (Betway)
Elsewhere in the ESL Pro League, fellow Danish team, North, will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the European standings with a win over struggling Virtus.Pro, with mousesports’ encounter with Fnatic one of the fixtures of the week in the world of Counter Strike. Meanwhile in North America, Brazilian leaders SK Gaming take on Counter Logic Gaming, who sit eighth in the standings despite a 13-9 record this season.