Firstly the groups look very one sided. In Group A there’s only one team rated over 2400 in mousesports. In group B 3 teams are over 2400, with FaZe over 2500 rating points. Liquid at 2305 is the weakest in group B, but they’re still rated above both Luminosity Gaming and OpTic in group A.
However this has some interesting effects on the predicted finishing places. The win and placement chances for the whole tournament are as follows
Disclaimer: not all rows/columns may add up to exactly 100 because of rounding.
Unsurprisingly FaZe are the hot favourites, some might expect them to have a higher win expectation but the field are capable of challenging them. Astralis are on a downward trend, they’ve lost to HellRaisers and Fnatic recently, so there’s a good chance that despite their rating dropping rapidly that they are still overrated by the system.
Cloud9 however have quietly been improving since their roster changes and have crept up to 5th in the world. There’s a good chance they will mount the main challenge to FaZe from group B. Team Liquid unfortunately being paired with these 3 teams are expected to receive an absolute thrashing. If they find a T side from somewhere then they might be able to mount a surprise.
Group A will be a toss-up between mousesports and Fnatic. Both teams saw some ratings improvements coming into winter but being matched up against the elite teams again has resulted in their rankings taking a hit. The group’s quality is split down the middle though, with OpTic over 100 rating points lower than both Fnatic and mousesports and LG another 250 below them. LG’s ambitions will be limited to avoiding last place, but if OpTic can spring an upset (the first round Bo1 presenting an excellent opportunity) they might make the knockout rounds.
Looking more deeply into the full finishing expectations, both Astralis and Cloud9 are heavily favoured to get into the knockout rounds. This obviously can’t happen unless they both beat FaZe (about a 35% chance) unless Liquid pull off a minor miracle. Given Astralis’s dip in form recently and apparent punting of the rest of the year, it’s more likely Cloud9 will win out.
Team Liquid are predicted at 40% to finish dead last, by far the most likely in group B but that does mean they have a 60% chance to pick up a map somewhere. Once again Astralis could be favourite to be their victims, but we have to be careful predicting Astralis finish dead last in the group. It’s all a matter of percentages and the Danes might reverse their recent dip in form if they prepare well and Rubino finds his feet.
One of the more interesting wrinkles from the lopsided groups is that Astralis and Cloud9 are both more likely to finish in either of the non-playoff spots (5-6 or 7-8) then they are to finish in the losing semi finalist position (3-4), because they’re so heavily favoured to beat either Fnatic or mousesports and advance to the final. They’re more likely to lose to each other than any team from group A.
The same thing is reflected in mousesports and Fnatic’s most likely finishing position. They’re both favoured to finish in the 3rd-4th slot, meaning they most likely qualify for the 2nd stage and are immediately knocked out by the stronger group B teams. At the risk of beating a dead horse Astralis are one again favourites to mess that up if they do make it out of the group. Mousesports have a 32% chance to get through to the final with Fnatic on 29%, so there are many universes in which that can happen. The chances of getting an all group A final though are much less, a little under 10%.
LG are very strongly favoured to not even get a map, 52.7% of the time they finish dead last, and only have a 17% chance of seeing the knockout phase of the competition. They did win a couple of maps in their last tournament, against HellRaisers and a dead map at the end against Team Liquid. Usually at least one team overachieves in a tournament but the chances of it being LG are very distant.
OpTic outplayed their rankings at the ESL finals so they’ll be hoping to repeat the trick again here. Thanks to those results they’re on an upward trend, but the expectation must be on them regressing to a lower standard than it turning into a longer term improvement. The holiday atmosphere in Cancun could be their biggest friend.