The first stage of the European League gave a new perspective on what professional Siege will look like within the region. The league format change meant there was an increase in size from eight teams to 10 with the addition of Team Secret and Tempra Esports, who qualified via the old Challenger League, it resulted in not only more games for the fans to watch but added an extra level of depth in the season-long story that was starting to be told.
The main story coming into the season was around the ending of one of the longest relationships in the professional scene's history when Fabian "Fabian" Hällsten and G2 Esports decided to part ways. He started a new project by joining Team Vitality alongside Valentin "risze" Liradelfo, rejoining former G2 teammate Daniel "Goga" Mazorra Romero, to provide a wealth of experience to go alongside the pure fragging ability of Bastien "BiBoo" Dulac.
While some teething problems were expected early on, it almost turned into a catastrophe when the team only managed a win and a draw in the first five play days. However, they turned it around towards the end of the stage, winning two of their last four games and a drawing another to finish the stage in sixth to give themselves a positive foothold going into Stage 2.
Virtus.pro (VP) made its professional Siege debut in the European League by picking up the entire forZe roster and was instantly rewarded with a surprise win in the European Open Clash pre-season tournament. After a decent fifth-place finish in the final season of the Pro League, it seemingly set VP up to have a strong performance in Stage 1, but the team's performance fell off the cliff in the first two play days to the point that the players openly admitted they did not have any idea why.
They bounced back between Weeks 3 to 6 with three wins in a row and once again looked to be back in their preseason form, only to lose two of their last three games and having to rely on BDS Esport to beat Na'Vi to make the European Six August Major. VP have shown they are able to take it to the next level but need to show they can do it consistently.
Speaking of BDS, the progression the Frenchmen have made since replacing their former In-Game Leader Morgan "rxwd" Pacy, for former Team Vitality support Loïc "BriD" Chongthep took them from a team who relied on Stéphane "Shaiiko" Lebleu to put the team on his back, to everyone providing him with the support a player of his level deserves. Handing the IGL role over to Bryan "Elemzje" Tebessi and picking up BriD might be the move of the season so far. BriD has always been a player who has performed consistently well, but his performances this stage have set him on course for potential stardom.
BDS changed to a more aggressive style where they forced their opponents into 1v2 situations throughout the stage and beat everyone in the stage, outside of a top-of-the-table clash with Rogue, and a surprise drumming by Team Empire. The French Siege scene has been going from strength to strength over the last year and BDS's Stage and Major performances show that they are here to stay.
With BDS showing a great amount of improvement, the two staples of the European scene in G2 and Rogue continued to show they weren't looking over their backs too much. Rogue continued to show that they are the kings of the online league format, despite two new additions in Leon "LeonGids" Giddens and Eugene "karzheka" Petrishin losing in their first game to G2 and they won six of their last seven, including a victory against BDS to defend their Pro League Season 11 online title.
After a small period of grace towards the end of Pro League Season 11, all eyes were on G2's super team and how they would perform. After beating G2 in game one, they followed it up with two draws and then losing against BDS. They then went undefeated winning four of their last five games to secure a third-place finish.
The two teams from the Challenger League in Team Secret and Tempra Esports showed that they belonged as both teams managed to obtain wins while struggling through the teething pains of promotion to the scene's top tier. Team Secret managed to pick up wins against Team Empire and Chaos Esports Club, alongside multiple draws throughout the stage.
Tempra started off strong with a draw against Chaos Esports Club and then a shock victory against Virtus.pro. They then managed to beat Team Secret in the Challenger League derby but struggled to find consistency through the rest of the stage.
While both of them gained a lot of experience during the first stage, they are expected to push on in stage two now they are acclimatised to the professional league.
Chaos Esports Club had a stage to forget, as they did not win a single game all stage, but racked up five draws -- the majority of them were after they let winning positions slip away. They should be in a lot worse position than they currently are but with them being only three wins away from being right back into the picture and away from a potential date with relegation. They have the roster to be performing better than they have so far, it's just a matter of whether or not they can piece together their strategies and pull themselves out of the mire they have found themselves in.
With the European Six August Major complete, BDS will be looking to assert their dominance on the entire league by winning Stage 2. It will be down to the rest of the league to stop them going back to back in online tournaments and the likes of G2, Rogue, and VP will hot on their tails once more.