OCE Report Card: ESL Pro League Season 15

A dive into our home-grown talent as they take to the server overseas.

Welcome to the OCE Report Card, where we take a look at our regional reps as they hit up the biggest tournaments overseas after tens of months in isolation at home. Our first* students of the year — a brave but embattled team without a home and an adopted crew of mice.

ESL Pro League’s 15th season sees 24 teams battle for the lion’s share of over $800,000 USD across four gruelling weeks of competition.

However, with the teams split into groups of six, our Oceanic contingent found themselves in (and, spoiler alert, out of) the tournament in the first week, with LookingForOrg and MOUZ unable to crack the playoffs.

But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

LookingForOrg: The Legend of Ben is born

From a raw results standpoint, LookingForOrg’s first international venture hasn’t been up to scratch.

Instead of travelling and partaking in a short bootcamp before a major event, LFO bucked the trend of their peers and entered into numerous lower-tier events as prep.

Problems arose straight away; Mike “ap0c” Aliferis was unable to travel with the team, meaning LFO were forced to utilise stand-ins from the outset.

At the Pinnacle Winter Series 1, the boys netted a win over MASON, but exited 1-3. At Series 2, they failed to trouble the scorers.

But signs of improvement were built over the bootcamp. At the Elisa Winter Invitational, LFO took solid series wins against AGO and Havu, but still couldn’t make it to the playoffs after heavy losses to Entropiq (including a dreaded 0-16) and AGF.

Undoubtedly a big disappointment for the line-up will be their failed attempt to qualify for the PGL Antwerp Major, dropping to Lynn Vision and NASR Esports in the Middle Eastern Qualifier.

But it’s all an audition.

LookingForOrg are seven months into their first stint outside of organisation support after they left the Dire Wolves behind in August 2021, and their qualification and showing at ESL Pro League Season 15 would be key to setting themselves up for the year ahead.

In short, they may have gone 0-5, but they put on a bloody good show doing it.

LFO would finish EPL with map wins over Ninjas in Pyjamas (5-0) and Fnatic (3-2) — both of which are playoffs-bound.

They also went close against G2, who finished second at last week’s million-dollar IEM Katowice to FaZe Clan.

Without coach Mike “HudzM” Hudson behind them, the task fell to James “SaVage” Savage’s dad Ben to get the boys through the event.

He was sublime.

“I’m Ben, I’m SaVage’s dad. Just a stand-in coach, just giving them some rev up.”

With just one sentence, Ben and LFO captured the hearts and minds of viewers not accustomed to the line-up.

On the server, LFO found early momentum in rounds and displayed great fundamental Counter-Strike, but were often caught out late in the round.

LFO’s Overpass win against NiP showcased just how far they had come. Up 9-6 in the half, LFO struggled to start their T side, with NiP capitalising to put on six straight.

Benson “Liki” Niuila made the adjustment; LFO adapted to NiP’s CT side, and thanks to great entries Jared “HaZR” O’Bree and perfectly executed lurks from ap0c, the boys dug deep to bring the map back.

Throw in some sublime 1vX clutches for Euan “sterling” Moore, and LFO looked unstoppable. The Aussie (and Kiwi) outfit nabbed seven from the last nine to snatch away Overpass.

“[We] would have loved to go out with a bang but it is what it is,” said Liki following their final loss to MOUZ. “What an event — loved every moment of it.”

“[It’s] a sad way to go out, felt like I made so many mistakes in that match [against MOUZ],” said HaZR.

“Thanks to everyone for all the support we’ve gotten throughout the event, it’s been so amazing just to be here experiencing everything.”

At the end of the day, that’s the primary goal for an Oceanic team making their first trip over the pond — the experience of competing against the world’s best, the thrill of attending offline events, and the promise of a future return to go even better.

LFO’s future return to the Old Continent is already confirmed with their qualification to the EPL Conference. On top of that, possible qualification to IEM Cologne awaits the line-up.

If you’re reading this and you own an esports organisation, look no further than LookingForOrg.

And be ready to fly Ben to every event they attend.

Dexter’s MOUZ show potential in exit despite brilliant Bymas

There were still whispers of MOUZ’s performance a week on from their strong effort at IEM Katowice and whether the squad was capable of replicating their effort at EPL.

Many pundits saw young gun Jon “JDC” de Castro tear up the server in Poland and demanded he remain in the line-up ahead of Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras, who missed Katowice due to a positive COVID test.

Bymas put those pundits to rest immediately — the Lithuanian finished Group A as the highest rated player (1.28 rating, +55 K/Diff), ahead of REZ, mezii and huNter.

And yet, MOUZ’s true ceiling remains a mystery.

MOUZ were unable to qualify to Pro League playoffs following losses to Fnatic, NiP and Entropiq.

Sure, they lost to the three teams that will be present at EPL finals — nevertheless, expectations were high for the roster given they finally had all five on the server and after such a solid effort in Katowice.

“[I’m] definitely not happy with my performance in-game, but am more satisfied with my T side calling,” said Aussie captain Chris “dexter” Nong after their final win over LookingForOrg.

“I’m keen to get back on the server and work harder — I need it.”

As an in-game leader, individual performance is sacrificed to ensure the team is in position to win rounds, but negative ratings in nine out of twelve maps sees dexter (0.86 rating, -54 K/Diff) sit at the bottom of the player list at EPL.

It’s the underperformance in maps that go the distance that hurts the most — a 0.53 against NiP in an 11-16 loss and a 0.69 rating in an overtime defeat to G2 could have spelled the difference between qualification and elimination.

But when the T side improvement is as noticeable at an eye-test level as it has been for MOUZ over the last two events then their potential remains high.

That said, April’s PGL Antwerp Major Europe RMR is make-or-break for dexter and this iteration of MOUZ.

Sixteen teams enter the RMR event, with the entirety of the top eight qualifying for the pinnacle CS:GO tournament in some way.

While MOUZ enter against the likes of NaVi, FaZe, Heroic, Vitality and OG, they certainly won’t find themselves as underdogs against the bulk of the other RMR qualifiers.

And with the number of pieces MOUZ have cycled through to get to here, dexter’s spot in the line-up may be in jeopardy should they fail to qualify in Bucharest.

LookingForOrg will be returning home in the coming weeks to rest and prepare for their next stint overseas, whilst also looking to prove themselves OCE’s best.

The likes of a Jay “Liazz” Tregillgas-boosted Renegades are hot on their heels, as well as a revitalised 2022 OCE scene.

For dexter’s MOUZ, their PGL Antwerp Major Europe RMR journey resumes on April 17 — anything short of Major qualification may just spell doom for this line-up.

Nicholas Taifalos

Nicholas "Taffy" Taifalos got his start publishing the escapades of some of Australia's pioneers in Counter-Strike and Dota overseas. Now, he turns his eye to events closer to home, from grassroots projects to the height of Oceanic competition and everything in-between. He still hopes for the day Dota makes a glorious return to the pinnacle of OCE esports.

Nicholas Taifalos
Nicholas Taifalos
Nicholas "Taffy" Taifalos got his start publishing the escapades of some of Australia's pioneers in Counter-Strike and Dota overseas. Now, he turns his eye to events closer to home, from grassroots projects to the height of Oceanic competition and everything in-between. He still hopes for the day Dota makes a glorious return to the pinnacle of OCE esports.



Related Posts

Follow us