[OPINION] Pro League Season XI Preview: North America

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The Pro League Preview series will be your guide to the upcoming Pro League season. Each article will discuss, by region, the teams participating, the storylines to follow and give our opinions on the final standings, starting with North America.

The Pro League Preview series will be your guide to the upcoming Pro League season. Each article will discuss, by region, the teams participating, the storylines to follow, and give our opinions on the final standings.

Note that the final standing predictions are the author’s alone, but can serve as your guide to form your own opinions (which you are free to share with us on Twitter or in the comments section below). Today’s preview will cover the North American region.

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Season 10 saw DarkZero place first in the region with a massive point total of 33 points. Runner-ups were Team Reciprocity, who tied with Evil Geniuses on points but had the tie-breaker advantage. In 4th through 6th were Luminosity Gaming, Spacestation Gaming, and Team SoloMid, who were all separated by a narrow margin of 3 points. Finally, Rogue and Susquehanna Soniqs placed 7th and 8th, and both were relegated causing the disbandment of Rogue.

We saw Luminosity Gaming acquire the roster of '92 Dream Team early in the season, along with TSM acquiring Excelerate Gaming, and picking up Beaulo and Merc, a day before the season started. We also witnessed one of the first international roster moves in Siege, with Gomfi and Slebben joining the Susquehanna Soniqs from European team GiFu eSports.

This upcoming season will feature 8 teams from across North America:

  • DarkZero Esports
  • eUnited
  • Evil Geniuses
  • Luminosity Gaming
  • Spacestation Gaming
  • Team Reciprocity
  • Team SoloMid
  • Tempo Storm

In the section below, you will find a collection of each teams’ prediction, roster moves and current roster, and a storyline to watch for the team as the season progresses.

DarkZero Esports

Prediction: 1st

Roster: Mint, Hotancold, Hyper, Skys, Ecl9pse

Coaches: BKN, BC, eCentral

New Arrivals: Skys (Team Reciprocity), El9pse (Rogue)

Departures: Nyx (Team Reciprocity), BC (coaching)

DarkZero@USN

Building for International Success

DarkZero Esports were the Season 10 champions in North American Pro League by a wide margin. The team suffered their only domestic loss to Luminosity Gaming early in  the season, and from there were a dominant force in North America. Coming into 2020, the team is looking to gain even more firepower by adding Skys and Ecl9pse. While the competition around them is as intense as ever, expect DarkZero to hold onto the top spot in North America this season, but do not think it will be easy for them to run away with it this time around.

DarkZero seems to be getting closer and closer to an international breakthrough. The team placed second overall Season 10 , losing to Na’Vi from Europe in the grand final. With the fall of G2 the international stage is closer than ever before, and this needs to be the time where DarkZero wins a title, be it the Six Invitational, a Major or the Season 11 finals.

A rough showing at the recent US Nationals shows that DarkZero still have some issues to iron out with the recent roster changes, but losing to the eventual champions SSG is by no means a complete failure. That being said, DarkZero need to gear themselves up this season to not only meet expectations domestically, but also to finally break through and find significant international success.

Spacestation Gaming

Prediction: 2nd

Roster: ThinkingNade, Rampy, Bosco, Fultz, Canadian

Coaches: Lycan, sovsov3

New Arrivals: N/A

Departures: N/A

SSG@USN

Online SSG vs LAN SSG

Spacestation Gaming are my biggest rising stars this season. Their lackluster online season 10 was punctuated by impressive online performances, even gaining the status in some fan’s eyes as the best chance North America has at winning a major. This also gained them notoriety in even more eyes as a team that struggles in best-of-1s. In spite of this, I have SSG placing second this season.

At the recent US Nationals tournament, SSG did not drop a single map, and placed first (in the LAN phase). While that doesn't inherently mean they won’t still struggle online this season, there were a number of signs within those matches that signal a change in fortune for the coming season. First, the teams which they won against are direct competition this season (except for the Susquehanna Soniqs). DarkZero were last season’s winner, and Team Reciprocity were runner-ups. While I don’t think that SSG will be able to outmatch DZ’s consistency throughout all of season 11, it is still a great sign of things to come from this roster.

Secondly, Canadian has now integrated into the roster well. USN showed that he is now firing on all cylinders within the SSG roster. Despite being on a hard breach role on attack, he found space to make impact plays while still preserving himself for planting the defuser. Performing at full capacity within an already talented roster will really put SSG above and beyond, as we saw at USN. Really, the only remaining question is if they can put their troubles online behind them, and I think the answer is yes.

Team SoloMid

Prediction: 3rd

Roster: Achieved, Merc, Beaulo, Pojoman, Geoometrics

Coaches: N/A

New Arrivals: Geoometrics (EG)

Departures: Jarvis (PogChamp), Gotcha (EG)

Beaulo@USN

When does Beaulo play?

TSM are a team loaded with stars, in more ways than just their skills. There are not many players, if any, better known to the casual siege community than Beaulo. From a talented underage player and YouTube star, known for his insane flicks and quick peeks, Beaulo has risen to the professional level, first playing on a pro level in Season 10. After taking some time to get on his feet in Pro League, Beaulo began to live up to the hype and expectations (though some may argue, inconsistently).

That being said, even with some lackluster performances, he still regularly made highlight-reel plays. Watching Beaulo on his game was electrifying, as he has more time to acclimate to pro league, he's continued to improve his game. Now, if Beaulo has managed to raise his base level performance, while still maintaining that playmaking potential he is known for, TSM will be a team to watch out for.

Fortunately for Beaulo (and unfortunately for the competition), he plays on a talented roster. And now, that talented roster has been supplemented further by the addition of Geoometrics. Last season, when Beaulo struggled, Merc, who is an extremely talented player in his own right, was left to pick up the kill totals, and sometimes it was just too much for one player.

Adding Geo to the roster gives TSM a player who can put up kills in any role, every match, consistently. He was one of the top players on EG during his time there, and as long as that carries over then TSM have made a great acquisition. He put up a respectable 100 kills in the season alone, while also having a rating of 1.14, the highest out of anyone on EG or TSM. Now, all's not lost if Beaulo “doesn't play”, because TSM have a solid team top to bottom. If SSG slip up, expect TSM to be right there to overtake them.

Team Reciprocity

Prediction: 4th

Roster: FoxA, Retro, LaXing, Nyx, VertcL

Coaches: HOP3Z

New Arrivals: Nyx (DarkZero), VertcL (Rogue)

Departures: Skys (DarkZero), MarkTheShark (FA)

TR@USN

Filling in the Gaps

Team Reciprocity had a bit of change this past offseason. Losing Skys and Mark would hurt any team, but picking up Nyx and VertcL will help the roster make up the loss. Talent-wise, the teams has more than what it takes to make a push this season. After all, they still have 3/5 of the team that placed 2nd last season, and on top of that picked up Nyx, who was apart of the 1st place DarkZero, and VertcL, who, as mentioned earlier, was a talented player on a Rogue team that had run its course.

My concern with the team is that overall, I still view these roster changes as more of a horizontal move, from a talent perspective. I can’t personally place Nyx and VertcL or Skys and Mark over one another. Changes like this can work against a team, and I worry that this may happen to Rec. Particularly with every team around them trending upward, it’s a little concerning for the team. Even so, with all of this, Rec still placed second at US Nationals recently, beating Luminosity and TSM on their way to the final, so I would never fully count out the team. I don’t expect the team to fall too far, and they definitely have what it takes to pull victories against the top teams still.

Luminosity Gaming

Prediction: 5th

Roster: Doodle, Hyena, Rexen, Factor, Slashug

Coaches: Viirus

New Arrivals: Slashug (Rogue)

Departures: Tomas (FA)

LG@USN

Making Strides

Luminosity are a team which have made major strides this offseason. At recent events, they’ve shown that Slashug has been an excellent addition to the roster, as he has been a standout performer every match. The now-defunct Rogue team was loaded with talented players who had simply reached the end of their time together. Slashug will be an excellent example of that statement this season, as I expect him to continue his good form consistently through season 11. 

Not only is the addition of Slashug a great boon to the squad of Luminosity, but the other members seem to have improved as well. In season 10, the team got off to a strong start due to their aggressive playstyle, but as teams figured out how to use that aggression against them, the results disappeared and the team coasted to a mid-pack finish. Watching Luminosity now, their aggression seems to have remained, but the team has gained poise and direction, particularly in their attacks. Last season’s experience definitely has benefited the roster.

Unfortunately for Luminosity, the competition around them is also improving every season, and I don’t yet know if they’ll have what it takes to take down some of the powerhouse teams loaded with star players. That being said, LG’s players are definitely trending upwards, and they are far from reaching their peak as a team yet.

Evil Geniuses

Prediction: 6th

Roster: nvK, Yung, Necrox, Modigga, Gotcha

Coaches: Ranger

New Arrivals: Gotcha (TSM), Ranger (Rogue)

Departures: Geoometrics (TSM)

EG@USN

Pressure Release Valve

EG, for the first time in forever, have some of the lowest outside expectations in North America. At every tournament they’ve attended, EG have been the team that North America has rode it’s hopes on. Now, all of that has changed. Failing to make the season 10 finals was what really signalled to the world that EG is not the same team many of us knew. Losing Geoo furthered those opinions. But this is by far the best spot for EG to be in.

Despite retaining a core of nvK, Yung, and Necrox, EG are, for all intents and purposes, in a rebuilding phase right now. Modigga joined the roster late in Season 10, and had limited time to adapt to the EG playstyle. Despite this, he appears to be a solid addition to the team and it will be interesting to monitor his progress in Season 11. The addition of Gotcha will be a real wild-card for me personally. He really struggled on TSM last season after stepping into the roster.

However, we have seen Gotcha substitute for EG in the past when he was their coach, and he looked like a really good player in that time. If he slots into the roster similarly how he did prior, EG really have what it takes to try to make a push up the standings, particularly since there are so many unknowns on so many teams. And while outside expectations may be low, internally the team is always pushing themselves. Yung had this to say when asked about this season’s expectations:

Our expectations for next season are securing first place showing improvement in our play every week.

Clearly the team are still holding themselves to a high standard, and anything can happen over such a long season.

eUnited

Prediction: 7th

Roster: Callout, Gryxr, Forrest, Yeti, Alphama

Coaches: Xecration

New Arrivals: Yeti (Ex-Noble), Alphama (Giants Gaming)

Departures: Phozzo (Run it Back), Abunai (Run it Back)

eUnited Roster via @eUnited on Twitter
eUnited Roster via @eUnited on Twitter
EU, Abroad

eUnited are a roster that are going to be looking to use this Pro League season to gather experience and develop as a team. With the Pro League expansion coming in season 12, eUnited and every team in Pro League this season can breathe a little easier knowing they cannot lose their spot to relegations this season. Obviously every team will still strive to reach the top, but having a safety net may help teams near the bottom remain loose in their play. 

Many were caught off-guard when the news broke that Phozzo and Abunai were being dropped from the newly-promoted Obey roster. I was almost hesitant to include arrivals and departures for the team as technically the whole roster is a new arrival, and you can argue that in order to depart the team you had to have played with the team at this level. However, for the sake of continuity and fairness I included it as is. Also, it gives me the chance to highlight the arrival of two major talents to the roster, Yeti and Alphama, both of which are some of the best shots in Siege. The pick up of Alphama in particular is of interest to the competitive scene. Alphama originally played for Giants Gaming in Europe before being benched and making the switch to play for eUnited abroad.

This is now the second time there has been a roster change across the Atlantic Ocean, the first being the addition of Slebben and Gomfi from GiFu eSports. While that roster move was not enough to save the Susquehanna Soniqs from relegation last season, it was really the first move of its kind. Now we have a similar situation, with Alphama joining eUnited. These moves are showing that competitive Siege is capable of supporting players moving abroad, and if Alphama has a successful season with eUnited, it can’t be long before international roster moves are a common occurrence in Siege.

Tempo Storm

Prediction: 8th

Roster: Butterzz, Dream, Creators, Filthy, Krazy

Coaches: KenZ

New Additions: N/A

Departures: N/A

TS@USN

Recreating Na’Vi, North America Style

While my prediction doesn’t exactly flatter the team, Tempo Storm are potentially one of my favorite teams coming into this season and going forward, depending on how the roster develops. The team overall lacks experience, and have a lot of development to do in the coming season. However, opting to keep their squad together after making pro league is a positive sign to me, that the team themselves believe they have a future as they are right now. Luckily for Tempo, no relegation this season means that placing last is not putting them in danger of losing their place. That could be a key factor in this team’s development.

While obviously no team wants to be in last place, after gaining experience in various tournaments, the team may be able to perform at a much higher level than expected. I’d love to see Tempo be able to go on a run similar to what Na’Vi did in Europe, but first they need to tough this season out. The team themselves understand this. I had a chance to have a quick chat with Krazy, who had this to say about the team and their expectations this season: 

We are looking to fix our internal mistakes and focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we are our competition. Our expectations are to win, and to reach a top-four finish in our first season of PL.

I think top 4 is a great target for a new team in pro league. If you don’t quite reach the top 4, you don’t really lose out on much, particularly this season, and if you do make it, it gives you a confidence that you placed in the top half of the region. With all that said, I really like Tempo Storm this season, and hopefully for seasons to follow, even if it will be rough at first.

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We encourage you all to use this as a launching point for forming your own opinions, and hope this will serve as a guide for all viewers, new and experienced! Be sure to tune into Pro League Season 11 when it kicks off on January 6th to see how these predictions hold up as the season progresses.