Article written by: John "JAYEL"
Season 35 of ESEA Advanced was probably one of the most wide-open seasons for the teams competing--obviously excluding the talented YeaH Gaming squad. Besides the stand-out Brazilian organization, it was impossible to know which teams would rise to the top of the standings at the beginning of the season. With all of this uncertainty, the season was sure to bring us some unexpected events. These included a number of saddening roster collapses such as Season 34 sweethearts Supernova and Team Hyperrr, and some high-profile teams missing playoff berths such as Big Chillin, Absolute Leverage, and InFinity Esports. However, now that we are in the third round of playoffs, let's get into the teams who made it and deserve their credit.
#1 YeaH Gaming (16-0) vs #4 GSG9 (12-4)
Not much needs to be said about the Brazilian powerhouse of YeaH Gaming. They won all of their regular season games and have won their first two rounds of playoff matches by a combined scoreline of 64-21 with zero maps dropped. Lux Gaming and Counter Nature CS have been the first two victims of their playoff-run conquest. After winning Open in their first season of NA competition, I don't think there is much doubt around them winning Advanced and going straight up to MDL--a place where some people would argue they should already be, in place of the disbanded Ze Pug Gods (who played literally ZERO games in MDL after they were moved up and not required to play in the Open division like YeaH did).
The only other big point to make around this YeaH squad is the fact that they have onboarded two American players to fill the spots of tatazin and iDk. Swisher and bew have come into the Brazilian squad seemingly perfect; Albeit, after some other temporary experiments with g0d and kber. The team dynamics are definitely unique, for better or worse. It will be interesting if they face any adversity in this post-season and if their chemistry will be able to handle it. This team is an extreme favorite and they will carry a heavy load of expectations with them through this campaign. Beware, YeaH, crazy things are known to happen in Advanced playoffs. And, considering how most of YeaH’s strategy involves their players being individually superior at this level, they normally slip up when teams make “stupid” pushes or moves, or when teams do hyper-coordinated attacks--outnumbering YeaH. 2020 has been a weird enough year already, nothing is off the table.
GSG9 has battled adversity during this playoffs run, but it has probably made them better for it. They took down the impressive and momentum-high Brigada team 2-0 via 16-14 and 16-12 wins, and then battled Vaniity Esports 2-0 via 16-6 and 22-18 wins. After making a big roster move mid-season, there were lots of questions swirling around if they had made the right decisions. Following back-to-back losses with their new fifth, Xzen, the team strung together five wins in a row to close out the regular season--before losing their final match to Rise Esports Club. This team is at the top of a lot of people's lists to make a deep run in the playoffs, and maybe even win it all. They will have their chance versus YeaH in this upper round match-up, but even if things don't go their way in this series, they will have a chance at redemption in the lower rounds. Few teams in Advanced can match this team's aim and ability; they will just need the flow of the game to go their way.
#3 GGPR esports (12-4) vs #10 SapphireKelownaDotCom (11-5)
For those of you who don't know, GGPR won ESEA Main last season (S34), and has come into the Advanced division like a wrecking ball. I haven't seen a team or organization with this much ambition and focus besides RBG Esports. There are lots of allegations and accusations circling around this team, but they are innocent until proven guilty. This team is not distracted and they're heads-down on making it to MDL next season. This team has made lots of roster changes this season, having a total of eight players during the regular season, but it hasn't seemed to slow them down whatsoever.
GGPR's dedication to the grind has shown in the playoffs, where they dismantled the reinvigorated UYU team 2-0 by a scoreline of 32-11 and came back against Revenant Esports after being down 1-0 to beat them 16-11 and 16-1. They will be coming into this match-up versus SKDC confident.
SapphireKelownaDotCom narrowly kept a middle-of-the-pack playoff rank after starting the season 8-1 but ending their last seven games with an ugly 3-4 record. Regardless, the legendary OCEAN team made playoffs and that's all this squad needs for their chance at the MDL Relegation tournament. It's been eight seasons since SKDC has been in MDL, and this is the first time SKDC has won 2 playoff series since Season 31.
If there is a season for SKDC to come back into the spotlight and make a run, it's this season. The roster is operating with 3 new players (Semphis, sensu, and Hiki) this post-season, and all of them have plenty of experience. Regardless of their nonchalant playstyle, they will feel good going into their upcoming match-ups as likely underdogs. They will elevate to their opponents' teamplay and push all of their remaining series to three maps at the least.
#15 Ex-Thunder Logic (10-6) vs #6 Revenant Esports (11-5)
Last season, Thunder Logic did everything but win Advanced. After having the advantage in the finals, they were reversed swept by Third Impact and then all but disbanded in the MDL Relegation tournament. After starting the season 3-4, they regained life and finished the season 7-2 to get one of the last remaining playoff spots.
YuZ and pao have stepped in as the new additions to this team, and they definitely have the ability to contribute towards a lower bracket run. Only time will tell if this team will redeem itself from last season and make the run to MDL Relegation and compete, or flame out and remain in Advanced--which would likely spell the end of the team for good this time.
Revenant Esports was one of the fan-favorites this season in Advanced. After picking up notorious and amen from the dying Team Hyperrr, this team seemed to evolve nicely throughout the season in ESEA and other tournaments. Their loss to GGPR in Round 2 of the upper bracket probably still sits heavily in the back of this team's mind, but they will have a great opportunity to prove themselves if they can overcome this Ex-Thunder Logic team who have the ability to punch WAY above their playoff seeding.
#12 Vaniity Esports (10-6) vs #2 Rise Esports Club (12-4)
After starting the season 4-6, Vaniity Esports took advantage of their second-half schedule and finished the season out with six straight wins for a spot in the playoffs. Their second round match-up versus GSG9 ended in a 2-0 defeat, but with a suspenseful overtime battle in the second map to go home with at least. They carried this into a 2-1 win over Veloz to end up where they are now versus Rise Esports Club.
Rise Esports Club, who subtly finished the regular season as the #2 seed, have not had the playoffs run they were expecting. After being defeated in the first round by Ex-Thunder Logic 2-0, they lost the first map of the series to Able Esports in the lower bracket before winning the final two by 16-14 and 16-6. After these two unexpected series, Rise Esports Club seemed to turn it on and really get back into form by defeating Counter Nature CS 2-0.
If Rise Esports Club is able to continue their high-level of play as they did versus Counter Nature CS, this will be a very difficult match-up for Vaniity Esports.