WESG World Finals & Bravado Gaming

The World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) World Finals in China is set to start on Tuesday, 13 March. This year, both White Rabbit Gaming and Bravado Gaming will be flying the South African flag during their WESG campaigns in Dota 2 and CS:GO respectively. For more insight into WRG’s preparation, here’s last week’s interview with Ryan “Chidowi_” Lancaster. For today, let’s focus on Bravado and their efforts in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive championship.

Encouraging signs

Since Bravado’s move to the United States as part of Project Destiny, they’ve been performing at a level that I think has surprised even themselves. Fan expectation will have been understandably high, if not a little unrealistic at times. Bravado seem to have taken a more circumspect approach, with expectations being focused more on incremental improvement than immediately upsetting big name opposition. That said, their win over Team Dignitas in the ECS Challenger Cup Closed Qualifier would have been a welcome one to the team. They are certainly putting in the right kind of practice to continue their positive evolution as a team, if the recent GLHF interview with Dimitri “Detrony” Hadjipaschali is anything to go by.

Since the Dignitas victory, their respective runs in the PreGame Launch Cup and the ECS North America Challenger Cup itself would have only served to bolster their confidence. The team has confirmed for themselves and the fans back home that they are able to be competitive at the second tier of American Counter-Strike. What now remains to be seen is how competitive they might be against tier two European opposition at WESG.

The world’s scariest bullet dodged

When Bravado’s group at WESG was announced, the revelation of Team Ukraine’s inclusion was not a welcome one. The Ukrainian outfit, while including some journeyman talent from teams within the region, also included Na`Vi prodigy Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. There is not a more dominant player in modern Counter-Strike than s1mple. He is currently the world’s best player, capable of hard-carrying most teams to the playoff stages of even tier one tournament without much backup from his team. Nobody can carry a team like s1mple. No other player is as imposing a presence on the server.

Thankfully for Bravado, s1mple announced over the weekend that he would not be attending WESG due to personal issues. This resulted in the eventual withdrawal of Team Ukraine from the competition. While Bravado would certainly have wanted to test themselves against the world’s best, it’s far better for their chances in the competition that they no longer have to face Ukraine. I would have loved to see this matchup, but as a South African I’m just as glad that Bravado gets to avoid s1mple and his team.

WESG World Finals & Bravado Gaming

Will they make it past the initial group stage?

I think they have a very good chance of doing just that this time around. Viva Algeria managed to beat Limitless.gg to get to WESG. Limitless is a team some of you might remember from ESL Africa Season Two. That would seem to indicate that Viva Algeria will at least be competitive against BVD in Group Stage 1, as Limitless is a decent team. If Bravado plays at the level we’ve seen them at in the last month, they should be able to move past Viva Algeria in this best of one. The matchup is scheduled for 12:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday 13 March.

Of more immediate concern is the opening BO1 match at 9:30 against the French lineup of Team EnVyUs. While the storied MGO has looked decidedly mortal in the past year, they are still a significant threat. They are possibly slightly diminished without Belgian star Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom due to roster rules stating that teams be comprised of a single nationality only. The biggest threat to BVD will come in the form of Cédric “RpK” Guipouy. He was suffering from severe illness at the recent ELEAGUE Boston Major, but looks to have returned to full strength for WESG.

The nV matchup will be the most crucial for Bravado’s confidence in the tournament. All they need do is beat Viva Algeria later in the day to progress. However, I’d argue that for their own sake they need to beat nV. This would prove their credentials as a legitimate contender against tier two teams on the world stage and not just within the USA. That way nobody could point to Ukraine’s absence as the reason they qualified for the next stage of the competition.

Since the time of writing, Viva Algeria have withdrawn from the competition due to visa issues – More here

What’s the next stage?

After the initial Group Stage 1, the teams will progress to Group Stage 2. In this portion of the competition, the teams will again be assembled into round robin groups. This time with the matches being best of two. From there the top two teams from each group will move on to the playoffs. Bravado should make it to Group Stage 2. Depending on their opponents, they might even be able to make it to the playoffs if they get a favourable group draw. Without knowing who those opponents might be it’s difficult to say how they might fare. At a guess, I’d say nV and BVD will likely be placed in a new group with old foes Space Soldiers and Limitless’ French team from Group F. That would be a very tough group to progress out of.

Closing thoughts

For Bravado, at a minimum, they absolutely must get past Viva Algeria to progress to Group Stage 2. Beating EnVyUs would be the icing on the cake and a notable victory for the team. By that point, they will have done what fans expect and then exceeded those expectations. If they make it out of Group Stage 2, they will certainly be hailed as heroes and rightly so. I urge all South African CS:GO fans to tune in for the matches and support the team in their WESG campaign!

Since the time of writing, Viva Algeria have withdrawn from the competition due to visa issues – More here

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