Image: Ubisoft/Joao Ferreira
Four years ago, on home soil, Olivier "Renshiro" Vandroux, Valentin "risze" Liradelfo, Bastien "BiBooAF" Dulac, and Loïc "BriD" Chongthep all were eliminated from the Paris Major in the quarter-finals. That was almost certainly the peak of French competitive Siege -- until now. Now, two French teams are once again in the quarter-finals of a Major and, this time, one will advance onwards.
Wolves Esports have become the most consistent team in the world since settling on this roster at the beginning of the 2021 season. In the two years since, they have improved every single stage even without making roster changes, something no other team has been able to do.
Now, they're at their fourth Six Major in a row and second Six Major playoff in a row. Last time they went out in the quarter-finals, but can they do better this time?
On the other hand, Team BDS exploded into the scene via the Challenger League in late 2019 and made their Major debut at SI 2020. Since then, they cemented themselves as the top team in Europe through the 2020 season, but had no global events to prove their might against foreign opponents. Since then, they've remained consistently at the top but have never been number one, except at the Gamers8.
Now, they are one French derby and potentially one NA team away from doing something they have never done before -- making it to an international grand final.
Wolves Esports -- BiBooAF, risze, Mowwwgli, P4, Shiinka, Lyloun (Head cosch), and Helbee (coach)
Team BDS -- Shaiiko, BriD, Elemzje, Renshiro, LikEfac, and Stooflex (coach)
Who are the favourites?
BDS are likely the fan favourites simply because of their on-paper star power. No matter what recent numbers say, Shaiiko is seen as Europe's greatest fragger while BriD is believed by many to be the world's greatest support player.
More recent numbers, however, put weight behind Wolves. BiBooAF looks like a brand new player this year, while the likes of Axel "Shiinka" Freisberg and Yanis "Mowwwgli" Dahmani have been unstoppable themselves at times. After all, Wolves are the top seed here -- not BDS.
The crucial deciding factor is likely their head-to-heads. BDS have beaten Wolves six times in a row combined, including the European League and the Charlotte Major. Wolves' last win against BDS was a 7-8 in Stage 2 in 2021. This one of just two Wolves wins across 13 meetings, even when considering past iterations of the rosters. The numbers are stacked in BDS' favour.
The last three times these two teams met was on Clubhouse. Two of these have incredibly close, meaning it's fairly likely that Wolves would like a fourth crack at it during the BO3.
Both teams also notably have a flawless recent record on Bank and both avoid Border and Theme Park when possible. As such, both of them have a fairly complementary map pool.
The few outlier maps include Oregon, which Wolves have a positive history on -- but have avoided recently -- while they have also won three out of three recent attempts on Villa, BDS's most banned map.
Overall Wolves have a better record across the maps, which is to be expected considering recent successes, but Kafe is the lone exception.
Also a factor in play is LikEfac. A new player joining creates the unknown of whether he has become fully accustomed to BDS's full map pool to the degree a two year-old team like Wolves would be.
Since we were last in this position three months ago, the change in Wolves Esports is clear. They are now the top seed and probably should progress onwards to the semi-finals considering BDS only made it to the playoff on round difference.
This improvement has clearly come on the attack. During Stage 2 and the Berlin Major, Wolves had a 38.10 percent attacking round win rate, which was the lowest out of the playoff teams. This meant that they had to go to overtime against Gaimin Gladiators, APAC's lowest seeded team in attendance.
Now, this record has improved to 56.82 percent since they returned from Berlin -- the second highest out of the top-eight.
This has come not due to an individual player or pocket strategies, but via a team-wide improvement that is something they've shown time and time again they're capable of.
Through the groups, Wolves’ lowest rated player while attacking was risze at a SiegeGG Rating of 0.94 -- a very encouraging sign. This is the joint-highest rating for a fifth placed player, alongside Group C’s dominant leaders w7m esports and indicates that Wolves’ results are clearly due to a concerted effort to raise the level of play of every player.
For obvious reasons, all the talk for BDS has been centered on their new player, LikEfac, as his inclusion has led them to jump from fifth in the EUL to a minimum of joint-fifth at this Major.
Yet, unlike some other teams in attendance, BDS have remained unabashedly themselves, like TSM and unlike Heroic or Dire Wolves. Their new player is amazing, but the core of the team still does its heavy lifting and the new man works as an addition to an already-working system.
LikEfac has effectively replaced Elemzje's secondary-entry role, while Elemzje has moved onto the more flexible position RaFaLe previously held.
Compared to the Charlotte Major, where BDS went out in the quarter-finals, their entry record has hardly improved, but having more deadly players on the deadly operators have led to more kills. Shaiiko and LikEfac can break down opponents’ lines together or separately, much better than Shaiiko could do so alone previously.
However, Renshiro has struggled so far at the Major. He has won none of his six entry engagements and only has a 0.65 kill-death ratio. He was not struggling anywhere near this hard in the EUL, so it may be something that remedies itself after a day's break, or could make the difference between the two teams -- especially considering how in-form Wolves are.
Who will win?
It's a case of recent performance versus past results. BDS' head to head results are incredibly impressive, while Wolves both topped their group and the past two EUL stages. At Majors, the only form and records that usually matter are those at the Major themselves, which seem to point towards a Wolves victory.
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