The most hotly contest region for Counter-Strike has just finished the Group Stages of their European leg of the Road to Rio. It saw some big name teams miss out on the Playoffs and some unknown teams get a chance in the spotlight.
For current betting odds for the Road to Rio Europe matches - check out esportsbettingtop.com.
Astralis (1st in Group A)
The 72-man roster of Astralis did well in the Group Stage, the only team they lost to was Fnatic - who failed to secure a Playoffs spot. Astralis used to spot in the top echelon of our CSGO Tier Rankings, but of recent have had drops in performance from that 'Kings of Counter-Strike' level. Are we seeing a return of the Kings?
Ninjas in Pyjamas (2nd in Group A)
New NiP (6-1) did better than Old NiP (1-6) in the Road to Rio Group Stage, only falling to the 1st place Astralis. After lackluster performances in in BLAST Spring (7th-9th), IEM Katowice (9th-12th), and ESL Pro League Season 11 (7th-9th) everybody had written off the Swedish squad. There was still a little bit of NiP Magic in the pocket and they manage to secure a Playoffs spot with it.
Team Vitality (3rd in Group A)
Team ZywOo recently, in March, had to sign on misutaaa as ALEX dipped out to travel less. Since March the only tournament we have seen this configuration play in was ESL Pro League Season 11. Vitality team managed to make it out of Group A, but bombed out to OG in the Decider Match and placed the same as NiP, in 7th-9th place. The team seem to be on that same level here, so I don't know how much longer they will last.
Team Heretics (4th in Group A)
Most people would have probably expected Fnatic to be in this Top 4, but instead you give 5 French/Belgian men a chance to propel their team up the rankings. Their performances wasn't stand-out with any upsets in the Group Stages, but it was consistent and thats what you need in Counter-Strike. Heretics beat who they should beat and lost to those who they should have lost to.
FaZe Clan (1st in Group B)
The only undefeated team in this tournament, FaZe Clan have been on an absolute tear so far. They have only dropped 3 maps and have looked solid through the Group Stages. After a 5th place at ESL Pro League and a 7th/8th place at IEM Katowice, we were not expecting much from FaZe Clan on the Road to Rio, but these guys could be the team to beat.
G2 Esports (2nd in Group B)
G2 and all of the other Group B teams had a tougher time getting to the playoffs with all of them having 4-3 records. G2 has been all kinds of inconsistent lately with really good Top 2 results, but then in the very next tournament an almost dead last placing. If they can catch some of that performance from IEM Katowice in a jar, then they will do good - otherwise we might see them take an early exit.
North (3rd in Group B)
Back in January, North made the big decision to swap their ingame-leader from JUGi to MSL. It didn't seem to be doing much as they placed almost last at DreamHack Open Leipzig, barely scrapped into the Playoffs of DreamHack Open Anaheim, and tanked at ESL Pro League Season 11. The North we are seeing in the Road to Rio is a different North to all that, a more determined North, and a North with a chance to do some damage.
GODSENT (4th in Group B)
A shock 2-0 upset over mousesports solidified GODSENT's position in the Playoffs and sent the European squad home. Before this tournament, GODSENT had been sitting in that solid C-Tier of our CSGO Tier Rankings where they can do dmagae but haven't had a breakout performance. Welcome to their breakout performance.
Astralis vs. G2 Esports
Both teams have been good lately and I think should be a really good and close match-up between them. On esportsbettingtop.com we see that the betting sites are all favoring Astralis (at the time of writing), but I think that the game will be a lot closer than the odds are showing - potentially even with a French upset.
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. FaZe Clan
The undefeated FaZe Clan will be going up against a strong NiP, but on the day and in their current form I think FaZe are just the better team. Taking a look at esportsbettingtop.com we see that the odds are also in agreeance with me (at the time of writing). FaZe should advance in the Upper Bracket and send NiP to the Lowers.
Team Vitality vs. GODSENT
This is the match I am going out on a limp on...I think that GODSENT will defeat Team Vitality. It is the rambling of a crazy man, but I think the Swedish side have it in them to neutralize ZywOo. Of course the odds on esportsbettingtop.com do not agree with me in any way, they are all predicting an easy Vitality win (at the time of writing). Life isn't fun if you play it safe all the time.
Team Heretics vs. North
To my surprise on esportsbettingtop.com (at the time of writing) every betting site is favoring Team Heretics. Maybe they know something I don't, but I expect North to come through the Lower Bracket and put up a good fight. The Danes are down, but they are not out of this tournament just yet.