Epicenter will be taking place on Monday, October, 17th till Sunday, October, 23, and 8 teams will be competing: Fnatic, G2 Esports, NaVi, Ninja’s In Pyjamas, SK Gaming and Virtus.Pro have all been invited directly, while Hellraisers and Team Dignitas earned their spot from their respective qualifiers (CIS and EU). Lets take a look at who will be taking the majority of the $500,000 prize pool.

Hellraisers have not played a LAN with their new roster yet.
Hellraisers have not played a LAN with their new roster yet.

The format for this tournament will see 6 out of the 8 teams get out of groups. The teams in the same group will all face each other, and while the team with the best record from each group will make it directly to the semi-finals, the 2nd and 3rd place teams will move onto the quarter-finals and the last place teams of each group will be eliminated.

Group A consists of G2 eSports, NaVi, Ninja’s in Pyjamas and Team Dignitas. Group B has Virtus Pro, SK Gaming, Fnatic and Hellraisers.

Natus Vincere: 

NaVi will be looking to continue their streak of form at EPICENTER.
NaVi will be looking to continue their streak of form at EPICENTER.

NaVi are coming into the tournament as favorites after a excellent showing in New York. They start the LAN facing a rising Team Dignitas, and despite that this match, at least on paper, should go in NaVi’s favor, Dignitas do have a good chance to take it. Both teams like to play on Mirage and we will most likely be seeing them play on that map. These two lineups faced each other in ESL Pro League where Dignitas 2-0’d them, however that was an online match. NaVi should come out on top but the game will be close.

They then move on to face G2 Esports. G2 have been slumping recently, and are expected to finish last place in the group. The last time these two teams have faced each other was in the online ESL Pro League where NaVi 2-0’d them on dust 2 and Train, however that was two months ago. NaVi won on dust 2 against Team Liquid at ESL One New York and will feel confident playing it against G2. If this is the case, G2 might be able to keep the game close if both Richard “shox” Papillon and Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom show up, but that is unlikely.

NaVi will then move on to face the Ninjas in Pyjamas, likely with a spot already guaranteed in the playoffs. They have never faced each other with these lineups yet. The two teams have very different map choices, making the veto very important to the match’s outcome. NaVi will definitely ban Cache and Overpass, and then they have the choice of banning either Cobblestone or Nuke.

The Ninjas are almost guaranteed to ban Train and Mirage and then have a choice to make: Nuke and Dust 2 are two maps that they could play. NIP have more wins against better teams on Dust 2 but they have recently been practicing Nuke, getting wins against lower level teams in ESL Pro League. We can expect to see them play each other on either Nuke, Dust 2 or Cobblestone. If it heads to Nuke, the Ninjas have a really good chance of picking up the win but the other two maps will have better chances of NaVi winning.

Ninjas in Pyjamas:

NIP have been looking really good with Maikelele
NIP have been looking really good with Maikelele

The Ninjas are forced to play with Mikail “Maikelele” Bill as a stand-in for Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi as he is recovering from a wrist injury. NIP have shown a lot of potential with this lineup after winning StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 2. They start of EPICENTER by facing a slumping G2 Esports. The two lineups facing each other head to head in previous events have mostly seen Ninjas in Pyjamas coming out on top. NIP loves to play Cache and Overpass, while G2 favor Dust 2 and Cache, so this should be a fairly clean win for the Ninjas in their first match at the tournament at the event.

NIP face Team Dignitas next. Previously, the two teams faced each other in the Pro League, where NIP picked up a win on Nuke. This time, the match is about 60/40 in favor of the Ninjas. Once again, both teams are willing to play Nuke or Dust 2. This match will be a big decider on who finishes second in the group.

Team Dignitas:

Dignitas finished first place at The WESG 2016 EU qualifiers.
Dignitas finished first place at The WESG 2016 EU qualifiers.

The final match for Team Dignitas is against G2 Esports. Both teams will be looking to obtain the 3rd seed for the quarter-finals. The last time these two lineups faced off on LAN was at StarLadder, where G2 beat Dignitas 2-0 in the semi finals on Cobblestone and Dust 2 – both maps were very close, however.

Team Dignitas will be coming in as favorites this time, displaying a better recent form then G2. Dignitas are a far better team on Nuke then G2, which will incline the French side to ban the map. Dignitas will then ban Train and Cache, and considering G2 will not want to play Mirage,  this will leave Cobblestone, Dust 2 and Overpass in the rotation. Unless G2 show up with amazing form at this tournament, Dignitas will be able to knock them out on any one of these 3 maps.

Recap:

In my opinion, NaVi will be finishing the group in first place. Ninjas in Pyjamas will earn the second seed to face an easier opponent in the quarter-finals and Dignitas will face the #2 seed from Group B in the quarter-finals. You can watch EPICENTER starting from Monday, October, 17th.

photos from ESL, eSports take over, StarLadder, Dreamhack