ESEA Season 26 Playoffs Preview

The group stages of ESEA South Africa Season 26 have come to a close. As expected, South Africa’s top two, Energy eSports and Bravado Gaming are neck and neck with each other at the top of the log. Energy took the top spot due to winning against Bravado earlier in the competition. The playoffs will be running for the next three weeks. It starts with the quarter finals due to be played in the 24 hour window between Wednesday the 29th of November at 8:30pm and Thursday the 30th.

Business as usual for Bravado and Energy then? Goliath?

Not quite. In the final round of regular group play, African Champions Energy lost to Goliath Gaming after a 13-2 first half in Energy’s favour, going down 13-16 eventually. To be fair to Energy though it was on Nuke, which is a map neither team play very much or favour. Energy will be annoyed at having let this one slip along with their perfect win record this season. They nonetheless should be considered favourites for the title going into the playoffs. Energy are still Africa’s best.

That takes nothing away from Goliath though. They have shown rapid improvement since ESL Africa Season Two and in my opinion are pushing Big 5 eSports for third place in South Africa’s unofficial CS:GO rankings. Their approach heavily favours emphasizing their skilled aimers over complex tactics which works well for them against lesser teams. I don’t feel it’s necessarily going to lead to regular victories over the top two however, but they are still very dangerous. It must be noted that they are still a relatively new team and have not yet hit peak form.

The leaderboard heading into the quarterfinals.

Something that I noted with some interest, is how many round losses Energy have suffered in the championship in comparison to their closest rivals considering their superior win record. With a RF (Rounds For) score of 253 and a RA (Rounds Against) tally of 110, it would indicate that despite their win record they have not as consistently dominated their opponents on the scoreboard as Bravado.  Bravado only conceded 66 rounds  across the whole tournament indicating far greater winning margins on average. Not a huge amount can be inferred from this, but I found it an interesting factoid nonetheless.

Bravado seem to have shaken off the malaise they were suffering in the ESL Africa Season 2 Final at rAge versus a rampant Energy side. They are back to their typically indomitable selves. Sonic particularly underperformed heavily in that match, but has returned to top form online in the ESEA league. What must be a worry for Bravado is how long it has been since they last won versus Energy. One has to go back to their victory in the previous ESEA season’s final or ESL Africa Season 2 online group stage play where the teams split the best of two series. That was all online however. While the playoffs of ESEA Season 26 are of course online, it must be a blow to the psyche that they have only once beaten Energy in an offline final since former teammate Robby “Blackpoison” Da Loca moved to their fierce rivals.

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