Ahead of the Gfinity Elite Series finals and to accompany this week’s highlights, several casters have weighed in on who they think will reach the finals, and who their stand-out players are.
Mark “Onset” Hatcher, Femi “F-Word” Onofeta, Richard Buckley and Brandon Smith have all provided their expert opinion on who they think will topple the competition and achieve glory in the Gfinity Arena.
Street Fighter V – ‘Ares have been unstoppable’
Femi “F-Word” Onofeta says: “Well, I know Ares have been unstoppable and EnvyUs have managed to secure that fast track to the semis, but looking back at the season, the way Nordavind have performed vs the best sets them apart in my opinion.
“I can defo see a fairytale Ares story happening this time around, but my mind is telling me that Nordavind won’t be stopped, unless Phenom is somehow unavailable. And according to his last interview he’s not missing a single week from here on.”
He continues: “Excel vs Fnatic… it’s so tough to call. If history has anything to say about it, Excel will continue their trend of always making it at least to the semis. The other semi sees surprise qualifiers Epsilon taking on my personal favourites Nordavind. I would say this should be a solid win for the Nords but I’m done betting against Epsilon after last weekend. Anything can happen.
“Also, Ares actually signed Luffy outside of the Elite Series to support him in his CPT qualification mission. Luffy won the first EU ranking this weekend past so is sitting on a decent stack of points. NastyNas has been solid but maybe not as strong as his team mates this season… could a hidden Luffy suddenly appear for the Semi Finals? Let’s wait and see!”
F-Word’s player of the season so far: “Abdes has been unquestionably the player of the season. He has been insane. What a performance for an emerging player too who rarely travels.”
Rocket League – is a Vitality vs Method final on the cards?
Mark “Onset” Hatcher says: “As it stands, I see our final being between Vitality and Method. I believe these have not only shown the highest skill ceiling of the teams, but also the consistency that is required across a season and even a series to pull out a win.
“However, Epsilon and Fnatic could well have something to say about that, with their incredible runs so far in the season giving them a real chance of making it into the finals.”
On players, he added: “I’m looking at someone like Borito B from Method or Fairy Peak! from Vitality to be key players [in the latter stages of the tournament]. Both have the ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck, via incredible individual play or having that knack of being in the right place at the right time. They are definitely two to watch if they end up in the grand finals spotlight.”
Onset’s players of the season so far: “For me, the players that have stood out have been Snaski of Fnatic and FaykoW of Epsilon. On one hand, you have Snaski, whose experience and leadership skills have allowed Fnatic to perform even with an ever-changing lineup.
“On the other, the emergence of FaykoW as one of the stars of the Elite Series has been great to watch, and he is certainly a player to keep an eye on towards the end of the season and beyond.”
FIFA – ‘Currently it’s anyone’s game’
Richard Buckley says: “I think Vitality Brian and Unilad Gorilla could be huge for their individual teams; when called upon they have both won the first game in the series, meaning that their teammate can play with no pressure on them.
“Looking at a couple more players who have had huge results, Method Zelonius and Roma FnaticZimme have both picked up clutch wins to secure playoff spots.”
Richard’s players of the season so far: “I would have to turn my attention to the Envy roster – both Aero and Eisvogel have had big wins and people weren’t expecting this roster to go through the group, let alone win the group!”
Brandon Smith comments: “I think Unilad should be looked upon as a favourite, realistically, looking at the squad depth they have and the way Gorilla is currently playing. However, Team Envy or Team Method have been really impressive. They are two organisations who are new to FIFA and have recruited extremely well during the Challenger Series (online qualification).
“Currently at this stage it is still anyone’s game, however LAN experience will play a key part for each team, as it will come down to who can stand up with the spotlights on them and who will crack under the pressure.
“I would say Unilad Gorilla can win the all-important game for his team for sure, however looking across the board for this Elite Series, players are starting to hit form! For example, Zimme from Fnatic/AS Roma, he could pull out a massive performance. Whilst also a player such as EisVogel from Envy who has been vital for their success this season, has been competing on Weekend League (FUT Champions) very well of late and he is in fine form right now!”
Brandon’s players of the season so far: “A mixture of players for me have stuck out. I have always been a fan of an underdog: maybe a player who is well known in their own country, but struggling to get known on the international stage.
“Damiee has picked up some big results for Nordavind, one in particular against Hashtag United’s Agge. Another player who has impressed me has been Moolzn from France, who’s a young player with alot of learning still to do. But under that Vitality banner with Vitality Brian leading and team manager Gregan, in years to come Moolzn will be destined for good things.”
Check out the Elite Series schedule here for match times and fixtures
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League player and WoW RPer, he has written for a range of publications including Games TM, Nintendo Official Magazine, games industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games. He currently works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association.