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The IEM Rio Legends stage starts on Saturday
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Esports: ESL Pro League Season 1 groups approaching conclusion

The group stage of ESL Pro League Season 16 is coming to an end, with Group D bringing down the curtain on a fascinating few weeks of round-robin play.

Cloud9 secured their Pro League playoff spot with a 2-0 victory over FURIA and they are the only team safely through as we begin the final day on Sunday.

Movistar Riders v Eternal Fire

Although they have a conceivable chance, Eternal Fire would need everything to drop right if they are to qualify for the playoffs.

The first in the long list of requirements is a victory over Movistar Riders. The Spaniards have taken just one map in four losses out of four and with that in mind, this should be a fairly straightforward task for Eternal Fire.

Although their campaign kicked off with three losses, there were positives to take in their matches against FURIA and Cloud9, where they put up stern resistance. Their persistence was rewarded against Liquid, when they walked away with a 2-0 victory.

Much of that was down to the incredible AWP play of woxic, who ended the game with a +37 K/D ratio and a Rating 2.0 of 1.83. MAJ3R, the second-highest performing Eternal Fire member, posted a Rating 2.0 of 1.12.

The question emanating from that game is can woxic do it again? That is a very difficult question to answer, but his 1.17 average rating in the past three months suggests it is not out of the realms of possibility.

This game is simply a matter of pride for the Riders, who are solely aiming not to go winless in the group. Posting just 17 rounds against Evil Geniuses would suggest this will be an uphill task, however, and Eternal Fire have to be considered heavy favourites.

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FURIA v Evil Geniuses

All that stands between FURIA and the ESL Pro League playoffs is one map win, and that should not be an arduous task as they take on Evil Geniuses.

FURIA, alongside Cloud9, were tipped as the two definites to make it out of the group and after back-to-back- wins over Eternal Fire, Movistar Riders and Liquid, that tip has all but landed.

There was no shame in a 2-0 defeat to Cloud9 in their recent match, as they have yet to drop a map, and Evil Geniuses should be a much easier task, on paper.

Evil Geniuses, to their credit, have outperformed expectations thus far and the fact they are in playoff contention on the final day is a testament to their improvement with this new roster. The additions of neaLaN and HexT have breathed new life into squad and recent strong performances by Brehze and autimatic have also been pleasing to note.

They still lack impact from their Bulgarian AWP'er CeRq, however, and he faces a young AWP'er in saffee who is performing with supreme confidence at present.

That battle could be what breaks the game open for FURIA, who have stronger team synergy and better-performing individuals. FURIA are -450 to pick up the victory, with Evil Geniuses at +300, and it is hard to oppose the favourites in this encounter.

Cloud9 v Liquid

This is a 'win and you're in' scenario for Liquid, who looked set to qualify easily for the playoffs but have made their life much harder with two recent losses.

They kicked off their campaign with victories over Movistar Riders and Evil Geniuses, but after a loss to FURIA in three maps, they put in a disappointing performance against Eternal Fire, losing 2-0.

Granted, Eternal Fire's woxic put in a mammoth performance in that series, but oSee and YEKINDAR failed to fire for Liquid and they cannot afford for the same to happen against Cloud9, who have been performing at their peak this tournament.

Cloud9 have won all four of their games by a 2-0 scoreline and are the high-rated team in the Pro League thus far, with sh1ro's mammoth 1.40 rating leading the way for the Russian squad.

Many would argue they were entitled to beat lower-ranked teams such as Eternal Fire and Movistar Riders in their opening matches, but a dismantling of FURIA last time out proved they were performing at the sort of level that saw them reach CS:GO's summit in early 2021.

Cloud9, other than a defence of their flawless record, have little to play for in this match and that may lead many to believe a hungry Liquid will win this off sheer willpower. Cloud9 will be up for this, however, and it is almost surprising that they are as big as -275 to win this contest.

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