ECL Season 45 playoffs to begin tonight
With the conclusion of the ESL Challenger League Season 45's regular season on May 17th, the playoffs are now slated to begin this evening at 08:00PM, culminating in the grand final scheduled for May 26th. On the line is a coveted spot at ESL Pro League Season 18, giving domestic squads the chance to compete against the world's best in an international event.
Heading into the playoffs, MIBR, Nouns, and paiN are the squads in the running for a grand final finish. With the former two squads securing perfect records in their respective ECL groups, while paiN has been racking up experience in international events like the BLAST.tv Paris Major Challengers Stage, the three sides stand out as favorites to win the whole thing. MIBR do offer a special case in that, as a result of their ECL Season 44 win, they have already locked down a spot in EPL Season 18, freeing up the space for Nouns, paiN, or one of the other playoff sides.
Other squads reaching the playoffs include Wildcard and Evil Geniuses Black, with the two teams set to duke it out in an upper-bracket quarterfinal match tonight. With Wildcard's upward trajectory, this will no doubt be an interesting match to watch. It is worth noting that, like MIBR, EG Black are also ineligible for the EPL spot, but this time as a result of the Evil Geniuses' main team's presence at EPL already.
The playoffs will be rounded out by the presence of ATK, Party Astronauts, and FLUFFY AIMERS. ATK have undergone a hectic regular season, drastically revamping their roster as a result of contract negotiations with the South African organization. Gareth "MisteM" Ries and co. will be looking to stabilize in their quarterfinal matchup versus paiN. Party Astronauts return to ECL playoffs for the first time since ECL Season 40, their first since the core's release from Evil Geniuses White. With Connor "chop" Sullivan and Danny "cxzi" Strzelczyk in tow, the Astronauts will be working to return to their previous status as ECL title contenders.
The final team in playoffs, FLUFFY AIMERS are fresh faces in the ECL circuit, but already look like they will be able to do some damage, with Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz's presence as coach being an added bonus. Unfortunately for the AIMERS, their opening matchup will be against MIBR, a daunting opponent considering the Brazilian side's pedigree.
The ECL playoffs quarterfinal matches are:
Nouns vs Party Astronauts
EG Black vs Wildcard
paiN vs ATK
FLUFFY AIMERS vs MIBR
The matches kick off in a matter of hours, set to begin at 08:00PM this evening.