ESL Challenger League Season 41 regular season recap
Last night, the final matches of the regular season of ESL Challenger League Season 41 drew to a close, locking in the eight squads that will be duking it out in the playoffs for a chance at securing the illustrious spot at the ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference. However, before delving into the playoffs, it's worth taking a look back at how the season went for the sixteen participants.
In Group A, paiN and GODSENT both found themselves sitting pretty at the end of the season, each with a 6-1 record. paiN topped the group in regards to the seeding, after narrowly taking out GODSENT 2-1, with paiN's only loss in the season coming from Gaimin Gladiators. Gaimin Gladiators had a strong start to their ECL Season 41 campaign, moving past Unjustified, paiN, and ex-UYU while falling to ATK to manage a comfortable 3-1 start. The squad began to lose momentum as the season went on, however, as the team crumbled against GODSENT and Brazen, with the latter result ultimately costing the Gladiators a spot in the playoffs.
Joining paiN and GODSENT in the playoffs are ATK and Brazen, who each maintain 4-3 overall records. ATK's season was nearly the opposite of Gaimin Gladiators, as the international squad started slow, losing to oNe, paiN, and GODSENT, and beating the Gladiators to start 1-3. ATK recovered nicely to finish off their season, trouncing Brazen, ex-UYU, and Unjustified to lock down their playoffs spot. Similarly, Brazen got off to a rough start, going 0-2 before quickly bouncing back with five straight wins, claiming their spot in the playoffs after beating Gaimin Gladiators.
The final standings for Group A are:
1. paiN (PKL, biguzera, hardzao, NEKIZ, nython, Coach: rikz)
2. GODSENT (b4rtin, dumau, latto, TACO, HEN1, Coach: chucky)
3. ATK (MisteM, Fadey, motm, b0denmaster, Swisher, Coach: sprayxd)
4. Brazen (D4rtyMontana, Danejoris, grape, mesamiduck, RZU)
5. Gaimin Gladiators (cynic, JazzPimp, jeorgesnorts, nosraC, Bwills, Coach: SEMPHIS)
6. oNe (Maluk3, pesadelo, trk, iDk, Coach: jun)
7. Unjustified (Cyrix, jsfeltner, Sloopy, Hitman, Gank88, Coach: Coastal)
8. ex-UYU (Alvin, Drew, kmrn, omniscient, tatm)
The standout squad in Group B was Strife, who topped the group with an unblemished 7-0 record. Strife did initially lose to Party Astronauts earlier in the season, but that result was retracted following Evil Geniuses' signing of Carpe Diem and Party Astronauts, resulting in the Astronauts forfeiting all matches in the season.
Trailing Strife in the standings are MIBR and Evil Geniuses (formerly Carpe Diem), each with 5-2 records. MIBR had a particularly late start to the season, playing their first match less than two weeks ago, falling to Bad News Bears after utilizing coach Bruno "BIT" Fukuda Lima as a stand-in. Adding insult to injury, MIBR had to forfeit their subsequent match against Strife due to their ongoing participation in IEM Dallas. Despite being down 0-2, the Brazilian squad quickly mobilized, trouncing all their remaining opponents to secure their 5-2 record and playoff spot.
Carpe Diem had a largely uneventful season which started with wins over Mythic and BHOP, before the squad's record was evened out with losses to Strife and MIBR. Carpe Diem rounded out their record with wins over Bad News Bears and Axolotls, with a forfeit win over Party Astronauts to secure a 5-2 record.
Rounding out the teams who reached playoffs from Group B is Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz's BHOP, who have seen a rise in form since revamping their roster at the beginning of the season. The squad had a mixed start to the season, beating Mythic before falling to Carpe Diem and Party Astronauts. Losses to MIBR and Strife only made matters worse, as BHOP were left with a 1-4 record with one week left in the season. Thankfully for stanislaw and his men, Party Astronaut's forfeit, followed up by wins over Axolotls and Bad News Bears was enough to resuscitate their season, seeing them clear the playoffs berth with a 4-3 record.
The final standings for Group B are:
1. Strife (J0LZ, SLIGHT, stamina, fejtZ, reck, Coach: ToH1o)
2. MIBR (chelo, exit, Tuurtle, JOTA, brnz4n, Coach: BIT)
3. Evil Geniuses (chop, CLASIA, HexT, Walco, wiz, Coach: Axed)
4. BHOP (BeaKie, silas, SPERMY, stanislaw, cxzi)
5. Mythic (fl0m, Cooper, ERIC, freakazoid, hate)
6. Bad News Bears (Spongey, Shakezullah, Swahn, Pluto, MoMo, Coach: madcow)
7. Axolotls (consti, Elk, Jermaine, Pol0, Tender)
8. Party Astronauts (ben1337, PwnAlone, djay, viz, Jonji, Coach: Muenster)
Since the conclusion of the regular season, there has been one more change to the squads headlining ECL playoffs. MIBR, who topped Group B, will be dropping out of the playoffs, and as such, Mythic, who are fifth in Group B's standings, have been called up to the playoffs.
With this recent development, the opening matches for the double-elimination bracket playoffs are:
paiN vs Mythic
ATK vs Evil Geniuses
GODSENT vs BHOP
Brazen vs Strife
Those eagerly waiting for the playoffs will have to contain themselves for a bit longer, as the quarterfinals do not kick off until Wednesday, June 22nd, with all four matches set to take place concurrently that day at 08:00PM.