With the play-offs for Stage One of the Global Pro League approaching, we’ve put together a power-ranking of the eight teams in contention for the title.
It’s important to try to evaluate teams in this way partly because the nature of the league doesn’t always necessarily make it clear how teams stack up, at least to this stage. The play-off teams are separated by groups, and those groups, although seeded to a degree, were randomly drawn. As the play-off round-one matches are to be randomly drawn as well, making some attempt to compare teams prior to the event itself gives some context for the competition regardless of how the bracket plays out.
It’s worth noting immediately that this is very much an of-the-moment, opinion-based ranking. It is an evaluation of the strength of these teams heading into this specific event. It is not an attempt to objectively judge the level of these teams over a particular period of time – Dexerto produces a periodic global ranking for that purpose, the next iteration of which will be released after Stage One concludes.
Instead, this is intended to set a base-line prior to the play-offs by which to consider expectations, without taking into account specific match-ups that might affect results.
Enigma6’s place at the bottom of the pack was an almost inescapable fate for this squad. While it’s true that prior to the Pro League, they didn’t boast a resume capable of matching up to any of the other play-off teams, they also never would have had much chance to gain ground.
Given that the group they were placed into was considered arguably the weakest of the four, the second seed from Group Green was always likely to be the lowest-rated come play-offs. The only way Enigma6 could have impressed enough to overtake any of the other top-eight would have been with wins over OpTic Gaming, a feat few teams even within this list are capable of.
It’s hard to say for sure how well E6 would have performed in another group, whether they could have stolen a spot from another play-off team. They certainly showed potential, but until they prove they can take on more formidable opposition with any degree of consistency there’s little justification for moving them higher.
Luminosity occupy a spot this far down primarily by virtue of other teams superseding them. By no means are they a team to be written off, no matter who they might face.
The trouble is that there are very few teams in the play-offs against whom I would give Luminosity a distinct edge. They’ve shown consistently over the course of the season that they can’t quite take down those at the very top, but while the likes of EG impressed in their group, Luminosity struggled.
Granted, Luminosity had arguably the toughest fight for second place of any team, but a squad that was going to come anywhere close to the top four really should have been able to do so more convincingly than Luminosity did, and their most impressive victory came against an eUnited that had little to lose in practical terms.
Having Evil Geniuses this far down might seem a little harsh given their miraculous turn-around to top Group Blue. It certainly can’t be argued that they don’t have potential to do damage.
The problem is that it was truly miraculous. Prior to that group they had some good runs, but nothing to suggest they were able to hit the peak they did here, at least not with any degree of consistency. It was so surprising because it was unexpected, and that’s precisely why it’s hard to push Evil Geniuses further up.
Perhaps it wasn’t a one-off and this team have genuinely unlocked some latent potential that will see them become a contender at the business-end of tournaments. For now, though, I’ll need at least one more impressive showing before I expect more from EG than the teams currently sitting above them.
People who can only think as far as the most recent tournament will likely be staring at this ranking in shock. How, for instance, can FaZe possibly be considered more of a threat than a team that beat them twice in their own group?
There’s no arguing that Group Blue wasn’t a huge misstep for this squad, and it’s the primary reason that FaZe aren’t actually further up.
The reason that FaZe are cushioned from a greater fall, however, is just how strong and consistent they’ve been over the rest of the season. Their record coming into the pro league was genuinely remarkable – this team hadn’t lost to anyone other than OpTic Gaming or eUnited, the top two teams in the world, at any point over the previous three events.
There’s no doubt that their group stage performance raises doubts about this squad that weren’t there before, and makes it impossible to put as much faith in them. Ultimately, however, their body of work over the season as a whole makes it a clear outlier until proven otherwise.
On the surface, EnVyUs had a solid performance in Group Red. Their first place was emphasised by the manner in which they stole the spot, sweeping Splyce when they needed to in the final match of the group.
The slight trouble with putting too much emphasis on the position, however, is that ultimately it’s only really the one great series that made the difference. Aside from that, both themselves and Splyce all but wiped the floor with Cloud9 and Mindfreak, both of whom should always have been at their mercy anyway.
It’s a similar story for EnVy across the season – moments of brilliance, but only moments, not sustained runs of impressive performance.
Right now EnVyUs feel like a team that could both beat and lose to all seven of the other play-off teams, depending on which version of the squad decides to show up. While on a very literal level that could apply to a number of squads, it seems to ring truer with EnVy than others, which for me is what keeps them at fourth.
Were I updating the standard global rankings, which are based entirely on results over an extended period, rather than “potential” or form, Splyce would remain behind EnVyUs, as they were in the previous iteration.
However, this list is not a general ranking but a specific look at teams’ strength relative to each other heading into the Global Pro League play-offs. As a result, I don’t feel entirely bound to give the edge to EnVyUs simply because they topped the group.
While that does weigh in EnVy’s favour, it was only a very marginal victory, on map count alone. Over the course of the group, and also at CWL Dallas, Splyce have generally looked like the slightly more formidable side – an impressive feat when being compared to the reigning World Champions.
Splyce might well be the strongest European team ever put together, with the potential to even exceed the level of the Splyce squad that reached the Call of Duty Championships finals. On their best day, they truly look like they could take down any team in the world, and their average day is still a force to be reckoned with. It’s only the chasm they fall into on their worst day that you have to worry about for this squad, but taken as a whole Splyce look like one of the most dangerous teams in the world right now.
Another easy selection, eUnited are a comfortable second right now. They’ve made two of the last three major finals, having won CWL Atlanta against OpTic and fallen just short of repeating the feat in an epic ten-game grand final at the CWL Dallas Open.
While you can’t deny OpTic the number one spot, there’s no question that eUnited are the closest behind, and the gap between them and OpTic is arguably significantly smaller than between eUnited and the rest of the field right now.
In Group Yellow of the Global Pro League, they went up against arguably the toughest set of opponents any top-seeded team had to face, and yet they still didn’t drop a series until after they’d guaranteed themselves the top spot.
There can only be one at the top. They held the number one spot in the world coming in, with three consecutive finals prior to the Global Pro League, and two consecutive championship victories.
The Pro League itself suggested no reason to knock them off that pedestal. Sure, they might not have had the toughest group, but they took every victory they possibly could have from it, emerging as the only team to top their group with a perfect 6-0 record.
No matter which way you cut it, there’s no argument right now that OpTic Gaming are the team to beat, and everyone else is playing catch-up.