ESL One Belo Horizonte Preview
ESL One Belo Horizonte Preview

ESL will be making their second stop in Brazil, this time with eight teams traveling to the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte to battle it out for a share of the $200,000 prize pool. FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, mousesports, and SK Gaming received direct invites to the event, while Space Soldiers and BIG muscled their way through the European qualifier. Rounding out the team list, South American qualifier winners’ Nao Tem Como and the newly minted Ghost Gaming, having signed the core members of Torqued before winning the North American qualifier to earn their place at the event.

ESL One Belo Horizonte will start with a best-of-three GSL group stage. The top two teams from both Groups A and B will advance to the single-elimination playoffs, which will then conclude with a best-of-five grand final.

Group A

  • FaZe Clan
  • SK Gaming
  • Space Soldiers
  • Ghost Gaming

Group A is rather stacked and quite a bit unfair for the newly arrived Ghost Gaming. FaZe Clan has been riddled with their stand-in curse as Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer has yet to disclose his return to competitive play; instead, the team will use recent ECS Season 5 Finals standee Jorgen “cromen” Robertsen. However, having a stand-in has yet to slow down FaZe Clan’s ability to reach the playoffs or even the grand final for the matter, so there won’t be anything to worry about topping the two slots to the playoffs.

The battle for the remaining slot to the playoffs won't be easy as FaZe Clan are sure to earn their passage, but Space Soldiers and SK Gaming will be the remaining two to watch. Space Soldiers have recently secured their first title of the year at DreamHack Open Austin, where Burga “Calyx” Arkin stole the show. SK Gaming has also clinched a title of their own having won the Moche XL Esports tournament. In the end, the Turkish team is still behind on the vulnerability of Marcelo “coldzera” David’s leadership and Jake “Stewie2k” Yip’s raw aggression.

Group B

  • mousesports
  • Team Liquid
  • BIG
  • Nao Tem Como

The next group, Group B, consists of an interesting mix of teams hot off back-to-back grand final losses as well as reasonably quick results from a newly put-together squad. Team Liquid is hungry, and they won’t rest until the team is fed. The only North Americans in Group B are currently coming off of two grand final losses at ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals in Dallas and the ECS Season 5 Finals in London. Team Liquid have been very innovative with their recent addition Epitacio “TACO” de Melo and well-groomed Nick “nitr0” Cannella leading the way while swinging Big Green. The results have been nothing but positive as the team’s only kryptonite in the circuit stands with Astralis, who are not present at the event, which should grant Liquid their playoff spot.

Now that one of the two teams granted a playoff spot in Group B, three teams remain for the last slot with mouz, BIG and Nao Tem Como. mousesports chances at Belo took a large hit when it was revealed that Tomas ''oskar'' Stastny would not travel with the team to the event. Instead, they will be fielding former Cloud9 member and free agent Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert as a stand-in for the event, crippling their chemistry without their starting fifth. Along with mouz likely falling short, BIG Gaming has yet to play offline since the Qi Invitational, and their results online have been excellent but not enough to shake their opponents come the offline action. In the end, Nao Tem Como -- a dark horse in Group B -- will bring the fight with the home crowd behind them every step of the way to reach the playoffs.

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