The ESL Pro League returns for its 11th season on the 6th of January, and the excitement is building. Over the last few months, teams across the world have changed their line-ups, we have had new teams rise through the ranks and expectations couldn’t be any different. With all this excitement and anticipation, we have picked a team to watch from each major ESL Pro League.
ESL Pro League 11 Preview – EU
Over the last year, Europe has continuously reshaped its standings. With the G2 era ending in Europe in Season 9, Team Empire, Giants and Na’Vi have all had a shot at the top two of the standings. This season doesn’t look any different. But out of all the teams to choose from, we are going with the new team BDS Esports.
BDS Esports is a success story unlike any other. This team is filled talent that all have had an awkward history in Rainbow Six Esports. BDS’ players are all on their path to redemption in this team.
Their biggest player is Stéphane “Shaiiko“ Lebleu, one of Rainbow Six’s most notorious players. Shaiiko was banned from competitive play in 2017 for potential exploit abuse in competitive matches. Whilst the evidence is wavy when we look back on it, ESL decided it warranted a ban regardless. After years of defending himself, Shaiiko’s ban was lifted earlier than anticipated, and he was straight onto BDS.
Moving on, three of their members are back in Pro League after facing the boot successful teams. Olivier “Renshiro” Vandroux, Dimitri “Panix” de Longeaux, and Adrien “RaFaLe” Rutik all were Pro League players. Each member has their own story of how they were sent back down to start again. For RaFaLe, he was a part of Team Vitality, who was benched at the end of 2018 when they faced relegation. Per Renshiro, his story reflects his bench from Millenium, when they rebranded and altered the roster for 2019. Finally, Panix won DreamHack Winter in 2018, thus qualified for Six Invitational 2019. However, internal team dynamics saw him expelled from the roster, and he never attended the world championship of Rainbow Six Siege.
The final member of the team is Morgan “rxwd“ Pacy, the team captain of the squad. This star is the only player who hasn’t faced the cutthroat reality of the Pro League. He was once part of the Team Vitality roster, but only briefly started for a month. He then left after several months on their bench to create BDS in May 2019.
Every single member of the BDS line-up, this journey has taken them from having nothing back into something. With the tendency that EU teams coming from Challenger League to EU Pro League like winning Pro League finals. BDS is in a good spot for repeating the prophecy. Regardless of whether they do it or not, it will be nice to watch as BDS continues their individual’s redemption story. Following a good story makes a sports team, and that is why they are a highlight of Europe this season. Not to mention they qualified for the Six Invitational through the EU qualifier. Case in point they are already on the right path.
ESL Pro League 11 Preview – North America
North America has gone through a huge shift in 2019. Evil Genius and Rogue no longer rule the roost, as Rogue was relegated and no longer exist, whilst EG’s break up has them in a tricky spot. Since they were dethroned, DarkZero Esports and Team Reciprocity were fighting for NA’s top two spots. Whilst that goal was accomplished in Season 10, there are even more threats to the top two this season.
Spacestation Gaming’s reformation is cause for concern for North American hopefuls, and they have certainly shown why throughout December 2019.
Throughout 2019, Spacestation Gaming was the middle of the pack team in North America. They had good online and offline form, but it wasn’t enough to to transfer into major wins. All this changed in August, as they were invited to the Six Major Raleigh through direct invite after failing everywhere else. Once there, SSG made the most out of it. SSG and TSM were NA’s last hopes as the usual favourites faced elimination the events group stages.
With roster alterations in September, SSG was slow to get going. They muddled along between the great and poor teams of the region and had an okay DreamHack Montreal. However, the roster seems to have found what they needed. Their December was extraordinary, with a second-place finish at OGA Pit Season 3 Croatia, first place at USN Nationals in Vegas, and then they won the North American Online Qualifier for Six Invitational 2020.
With such an amazing end of the year, SSG has shown they are great in the LAN and online format. With the return of the NA Pro League next month, it will be great to see the roster perform just as well there. North America is in open season now, and Spacestation Gaming is a team that is capable of climbing the ladder.
ESL Pro League 11 Preview – Latin America
Latin America is always a 4 horse race between FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, MIBR, and NiP. In 2019 Team Liquid was the only team who didn’t attend an ESL Pro League Final on behalf of the LATAM region. However, they had a quality 2019 elsewhere, and that makes them the pick to watch for in Season 11.
Team Liquid’s 2019 was certainly something. Their individual merit in 2019 was phenomenal. Thiago “xS3xyCake“ Reis won an esports award for his amazing play at the Six Invitational 2019 group stages vs Mockit. Luccas “Paluh” Molina dropped 27 kills on a single map, holding the record for most kills in one map at a competitive LAN setting.
Furthermore, their play as a team in 2019 on various stages was impressive. At the Allied Vegas Minor, they finished 3rd place. At DreamHack Montreal, they finished second place after losing to TSM. Finally, they finished first against SpaceStation Gaming at OGA Pit Season 3. In the Brasileirão 2019, they took down FaZe Clan and became Brazilian champions. The team is clearly one of Latin America’s best LAN teams.
Team Liquid clearly knows how to beat regional and international talent on LAN. However, their online game seems to be lacking. For Team Liquid, seeing them progress throughout the online playdays is a must-watch. The team is clearly capable, as they have shown through their LAN successes. in 2018, they also won the Pro League Season 7 Finals. For 2020, Team Liquid must rise in their regional league and become the all dominant LATAM team they are showing signs of being.