17:00 CEST NSL Open tournament #3 Group Stage http://ensl.org/contests/412
Premiere Title Semi-Finals:
Here are the predictions for Premiere semi-finals. As you can see, the tier 2 semi-final preds are in another article for easier wall of text browsing. Note that both the predictors have expressed their opinions on all the matches, so you don't have to rely on one point of view this week!
U GO?! - Take Over
U GO?! is difficult to predict right now. They played a decent early season, being the only team able to take a round from Saunamen and also beating the 2nd place contender NewstyleD with a relatively big margin. Still, right now they seem to be falling apart a bit. They are still relying on MP's half-merc comming and all in all their recent PCWs haven't been up to the best level of play.
Take Over seems to be the strongest contender for Saunamen's throne right now. They have been active all season and haven't had much fluctation on roles, which results in very stable and controlled play. Beefi seems to be in good commanding shape and Franky and s4 fill up most of the fragging quota. I'm still waiting to see if the old French veteran FlashnaabZ manages to contribute more to the tO's play, as tO could still use a few more players to support their Swedish carry duo here and there.
Based on league results only this should be an even match, but the recent PCW results seem to indicate an advantage for tO. Franky's shotgunning should be enough to keep MP's lerking at bay, which disarms U GO's biggest alien weapon right away. tO's slightly weaker alien rounds should also be able to dismantle U GO's marine rounds unless MP finds new ways to organise the game.
My prediction is 3-1 for tO. U GO still takes aliens on Origin.
Ninelegends - Saunamen
The Ninelegends have been playing up and down rounds all season. More often than not they lose their growing 2nd hive and fade only to come back a little later with excellent skulking and equally patient and smart lerking. Still, no matter how good they are at comebacks, almost losing to Turning Point last week doesn't bode well to the semi-finals where it becomes increasingly difficult to come back once the slippery slope starts affecting the game. The last week's match also included some catastrophical moments for 9L as fades fumbled and shotguns fell to first skulks. On individual level of play Oetel has had some importance as the consistent lerk and Morphz' fading has been decent. On marines they really need either Sherpa or JustMe in the commander chair as the field performance hasn't had any shiny stuff in it.
Saunamen have been solid, that's all. Early on in the season they beat U GO?! 3-1 in a great match, but from that point on they've just been steamrolling the weaker opponents week after week. Whether the lack of opposition has affected their league shape remains to be seen. Notably Peach has still been all over the place as a commander, seeing all the cheesy surprise attacks from underdog teams well in time. Kuitmo is probably one of the most active top level players right now, so I'd expect to see some great stuff from him.
After seeing 9L's struggle against Turning Point last week, it's really difficult to give favourable prediction for them. 9L's early and mid game weren't all that smooth and I doubt facing the top team in the league is going to make it any easier for them. Right now the only way I can see 9L taking rounds from Sauna is with supreme alien earlygame. On other areas of gameplay Sauna is just going to run over 9L with better lifeforms, disciplined map control and strong marine routine without bigger flaws.
9L - wltrs (_everything_)
My prediction is 4-0 for Sauna.
U GO? vs. Take Over
Match of the week! This clash will be most interesting to watch, both clans have slightly raisen activity level as this will be the biggest challenge yet to be. U GO? grapped clan hobber Almaty back into the play and continue stronger than ever. I have not seen them play Saunamen recently but older games were very promising. Like Saunamen U GO? tramples any div2 team regardless of tactics so low levels games cannot be used as reliable prediction material. U GO?'s strength lie ín experienced players, their team contains many known players from past top clans but whether if they have played together in the past is unclear to me. That just might be one of U GO?'s weaknesses as they maybe "off sync" sometimes and opinions differ. They have few people who like to "lead the game" doogie Almaty frG for example and difference's in opinions + FAIL is the most usual recipe for RAGE! I dare say that multivac is the best fade atm and I dont doubt that he will be the one fading. Chb/Almaty will grab a lerk and doogie will probably hive as he is allround and can fade if its necessery. Alien play is in Almaty's and multivac's hands (regless duo) and their lifeform play will decide a lot. Almaty is known to have carried rounds with his lerk but if 9 out of 10 ends in flash you have to question the effectiveness. Marine play is not us good as it could be they have many good aimers but comm mistakes by Almaty cost them points. Whether if it will be Almaty or random spaniard comming I doubt there is any difference. Doogie is able to command too but that will lead into inevitable rage and I dont see them using him. I expect to see some exceptional play by multivac, Almaty and doogie so keep your spec mode on them.
Take over slowly recovering from the slumber as Danny continues being away and no-one is really interested in arraging pcws. To counter this inactiveness Take over recruited 2 new players huhuh and zups and thanks to them Take over managed to pull out few pcws. Games against Saunamen have been uncontrollable chaos but somewhere there is a hope that Take over might actually get something done. Div2 teams are no match for Take over but sometimes they manage to get decent fights. Take over's strength lies in brothers s4 and franky and these two frag their way to the nodes and failure (although rare) is going to bring unredeemable problems. Rest of the members bite the res, build the nodes and other silly stuff. Lack of motivation and willingness to improve is one the main problems Take over has and gameplay is too much trusting on fade and lerk performance. As a proof Take over rarely comes back from a disadvantagious situations unlike Saunamen and rounds crumble from confusion time to time. Despite all that Take over managed to take first spot in their group and losing only 1 round to an SG rush. The fade play I have been talking about is done by both franky and s4, lerking is king_yo's job but due inactiveness and recent bad performance we might see FlashnaabZ lerking. Marine play is quite alright but very dependable on franky's sg performance and a good lerk can really break the shit out of take over's gameplay. Still if an opportunity appears Take over will grab it and take any round for themselfs.
Same maps as the other premiere semi-final (origin and veil) both very flexiable and anything from shotgun rush to 6 rts is possible. Vents provide very good mc places for emergency escapes and double is more than suitable for DC. Both of the teams will play solid normal alien play with mc's but mass nodes or something between is an option too. Marine play will include shotguns at the start and the players given it will have great responsability for carrying the nodes down. This match will include long endgame rounds. Stamina and concentration are something that will play great part in this match should it get prolonged.
I believe Take over will prevail on metal which is the third map if first 2 end up in a draw thus I predict 4-2 for Take over.
Take over - franky (fade/marine), s4 (fade/marine/skulk)
U GO? - doogie (all around), multivac (fade/marine), Almaty (lerk/skulk/marine)
Ninelegends vs. Saunamen
Although it is semifinals gap between these two is great, Ninelegends while possesing great knowledge of gameplay lacks the activity hurting their lifeform play on alien and aiming on marines. Hopefully Ninelegends get some activity together so we can avoid a simple overrun unworthy of semi-final game. Ninelegends tried on 3 node tactics in earlier matches (2.0 style with lerk) but reverted back to the usual 2rt mc's in latest game. I believe their past experience can be regained quickly with activity as a team (pcws!) and with a successful fading and lerking taking alien rounds can be done with a little work. Marine play needs some kind of miracle as shotgun rush is unlikely to work against Saunamen like it did against take over. morphz is likely to fade, Oetel (koetje?)/sublime lerking, rest doing the "less" meaningful stuff. On marine side morphz has some aim left and wltrs the doomsday machine will play an important role in this game.
Saunamen the currect top1 title holder strong play as always, game leaders Tane and Peacham lead the game and make the calls. Their gameplay is not perfect though sometimes sloppy performance's even in lower skilled games may cost them resource towers against higher opponents like U GO? or take over. To overcome come this Saunamen have developed very good gaming when they are behind. Reason for this strength lies in skilled fades (enigmatic,Tane,Kuitmo and even Talis) if needed whole team can fade. Lerk enigmatic is a spore whore and almost always on right spot to annoy marines and commander with accurate sporing. Because of this getting resource nodes down is extremely important against Saunamen and failure to do so will lead to a fade swarm with a second hive. Saunamen also when pressured relies in late hive with 2 fades. Fades are the annoyance for cappers and pg builders as they strike them down very quickly even with a sacrifice of rt or two. Saunamen seems to prefer control over late game res humping (both sides) and it is very effective. Saunamens fade can be either Tane or Kuitmo (probably Tane) and lerk will be enigmatic as mentioned earlier. Peacham is often seen as a lerk in pcws but in official I would trust in enigmatic. Marine play is exceptional from anyone even comm (Peacham) but Tane and Kuitmo has been most active lately and always.
Saunamen and Ninelegends are probably going to start with 2 sg's to diffent resource towers as it is extremely effective in large map like origin. However both maps are very flexible for both alien and marine play so I wouldnt be surprised if Ninelegends start out with motion on either of the maps. Alien's can 4 node on veil (all hives) or in origin with ventilation or furnace hive. Bio can be tricky since double is far away and close to marine start but who knows maybe they will pull it out. Saunamen will be the one pressuring and Ninelegends in defence but with effective striking and calls can the game control to be turned upsidedown. I however doubt Ninelegends can get active enough and the game will be 4-0 for Saunamen with some resistance and flash lifeforms.
I predict 4-0 for Saunamen.
Saunamen - Tane(fade/marine) Kuitmo (all around) leipa (capper) enigmatic (lerk/fade)
Ninelegends - morphz (fade/marine) sublime (lerk) Fana (gorge=fps swap)