Counter-Strike fans around the world are excited for next week’s IEM Katowice 2022, but just before that event stars, ESL will be holding a smaller tournament this weekend. Originally planned as ESL Challenger Anaheim, the now online ESL Challenger $48 will be played from this Friday in Europe, and it features a very interesting list of participants.
So, let’s take this opportunity just before the first game of the event takes off on Friday and catch up all key details and tournament information, as well as our traditional guide to the storylines coming to the event!
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
ESL Challenger #48 will start this Friday, 11th, at 10:00 AM UTC. You can check which time this will be in your time zone through here. Opening the event, we’ll be having Virtus.Pro and 9z facing off in a best-of-one series. All matches will be streamed through ESL’s official channel on Twitch.
Back to the event, the Challenger #48 will be a two-stages tournament. First, we’ll be seeing the eight teams going into the group stage, which will have two groups. The first matches as well as the winners’ matches are going to be best-of-one series, while elimination and deciders are best-of-three series. Two teams from each group will advance to the playoffs, which is a single-elimination bracket, and all matches there are BO3s. You can check the groups in the image below:
Lastly, the champions will be taking home USD $50.000 as well as 100 circuit points for ESL Pro Tour. Additionally, the team that wins this tournament will also receive an invite for ESL Pro League Season 16 Conference. This tournament will be taking place in June, and offers six spots at the main ESL Pro League event.
With all details set in stone, let’s now take a look at the most interesting teams coming to the event and their storylines!
LOOKING FOR THEIR FIRST VICTORY – COMPLEXITY
When the current Complexity roster was announced, it was very well received by the community. This North American line-up on paper seems really strong, but for it to succeed, two players would have to step-up. These two are Michael “Grim” Wince, and Paytyn “junior” Johnson.
Unfortunately, while Grim has given some glimpses that he can be the man Complexity needs, junior has been quite disappointing so far. Unfortunately for Complexity, this has hurt the team so far, and they have yet to get a win with this roster after two tournaments, and five matches.
So, coming to the ESL Challenger #48, Complexity has just one objective here: get a win. As the team heads to Katowice next week, they absolutely need a confidence boost, and this is why they’re coming to this smaller event instead of resting. Of course, each match played means more experience for this new squad, but they need to starting showing results.
Complexity’s first game at the Challenger will see them facing HEET. While the North American roster has a good chance of taking this best-of-one, I don’t consider them favorites. It should be a disputed game, and while Complexity needs to win here, HEET is a highly dangerous opponent for them.
DON’T LOOK BACK – FURIA
FURIA roster changes after the 2021 season came as bittersweet for fans of the Brazilian organization. The squad brought in a proper, dedicated AWPer which they desperately needed. However, they also said farewell to Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo and kept the unproven André “drop” Abreu.
However, while this move caused some doubts, FURIA’s debut in 2022 was a major disappointment. Not only their new AWPer failed to impress in one of the worst player debuts in recent memory, the whole team looked dysfunctional. Sure, it was FURIA’s first game in the year with this new roster, but they should be able to at least be competitive against a team such as Wisła Kraków.
Nonetheless, that’s all in the past. Now, FURIA and especially Rafael “saffee” Costa need to look forward, and this is their run at ESL Challenger #48. Much like Complexity, FURIA is coming to this event to get some experience, and getting some wins here would definitely be great in order to put that debut against the Poles behind definitively.
Anyhow, this FURIA, at least on paper, is one of the strongest teams at this tournament, and anything but a strong showing will be considered another disappointment. Their run start with them facing ORDER, which should be an easy opponent for the Brazilians.
UNSTOPPABLE RISE – HEET
During 2021, one of the orgless teams that caught the attention of many was the French squad playing under the DBL Poney name. The squad led by Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro made waves last year, and while the team didn’t qualify for the Major or any premier tournament, they still were a fierce contender among the second tier of competition in Europe.
Now, DBL Poney has officially signed with HEET, and they started 2022 with a bang. The French team won the first event they took part in, the Malta Vibes Knockout Series 5. Now, they are currently sitting with a 2 – 1 in both Thunderpick Bitcoin Series and ESL Challenger League Season 40 EU. The squad definitely is promising, and with wins over 1WIN, Copenhagen Flames and K23, they have proven that they are worth the hype.
Still, HEET will be facing their biggest challenge this year at the ESL Challenger #48. So far, they have mostly faced competition on the same level as themselves, but this changes now. With FURIA and Virtus.Pro here, HEET will have to face some heavier opposition. And they shouldn’t have an easy time against Movistar Riders either. This tournament will be a good opportunity for HEET to be evaluated. How far can this team go right now? Can they at least put a challenge against FURIA? Can they confidently win over the likes of Dignitas?
As mentioned above, HEET’s first game will have them facing Complexity. Differently than their opponents, HEET has momentum coming to the Challenger #48, and they should feel confident enough to take on coL. It would be unwise for bodyy to underestimate then, but they certainly should feel comfortably facing them.
THE AUSTRALIAN FACTOR – ORDER
Coming from Australia, ORDER is going to make their debut into 2022 this weekend at the ESL Challenger #48. The Australians are currently ranked 3rd in the regional rankings for Oceania, and they are hoping to at least leave an impression.
It won’t be easy though. As most teams from Australia and New Zealand, ORDER spent most of the online era playing exclusively against opposition from their region. In the last months of 2021, ORDER took part in some international events, but far from enough to give them experience against European and North American opposition.
Still, it’s in events such as the Challengers from ESL that squads from Asia and Oceania will have a chance to test themselves against international teams. Sure, ORDER are underdogs here, but for them, just a chance of playing against teams from all over the world is reason enough to be content. It’s hard to expect anything from Jireh “J1rah” Youakim and his boys, especially now that they are having a stand-in. Yet, they definitely could surprise the likes of 9z on a good day. Furthermore, it’s always good to watch some Australian Counter-Strike.
ORDER will be facing FURIA on their opening game. FURIA will definitely be an almost impossible task for the Australians, but if the Brazilians start sloppy and ORDER manages to get an early advantage, we could see a major upset in this BO1.
ENTER THE BEAR – VIRTUS.PRO
While most high-ranked teams in CSGO have already played their first games of 2022, Virtus.Pro has yet to play their first official. The Eastern European powerhouse led by Dzhami “Jame” Ali closed 2021 in a high note though, and they definitely are looking to pick off right from where they left.
So, it’s no surprise to see Virtus.Pro making the ESL Challenger #48 their first tournament of the year. After all, here they will be facing competition a tier below them. This is a good strategy, as it allows Jame and VP’s coach to check the team’s shape. After all, some players might start off slower than expected. Or maybe the team as a whole feel a bit off initially. Taking part at the ESL Challenger #48 gives the squad an opportunity to adjust accordingly before they face higher stakes.
In spite of that, Virtus.Pro is expected to be the champions of Challenger #48. They are ranked 5th at HLTV’s World Rankings. They also are the only squad besides FURIA used to face tier 1 competition here. So, VP is expected to be miles ahead of the teams they will be facing. Sure, some disorganization early on could be understandable. However, losing a best-of-three would definitely spoil their momentum heading to IEM Katowice next week.
Virtus.Pro will be opening the tournament alongside 9z, as mentioned above. This match has VP coming as the absolute favorites.
JUST ONE DAY LEFT!
ESL Challenger #48 will be starting this Friday! While it’s not a premier tournament, it’ll definitely have its share of interesting games. So, if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, keep up with up here!