Today marks the start of the third season of the WePlay Academy League. The competition will run from January 3 until February 13, with the group stage matches played online and the finals played on LAN, with a prize pool of $100,000.
WePlay Academy League is exclusively for academy teams, which feature new and prodigious talent. The ten attending teams are MOUZ NXT, fnatic Rising, Astralis Talent, Young Ninjas, FURIA Academy, BIG Academy, NAVI Junior, VP.Prodigy, Spirit Academy, and Eternal Fire Academy. The format of the league consists of two groups of five teams, from which group winners qualify for the finals. The remaining teams play through a single-elimination BO3 bracket to determine the two teams joining the group winners for the LAN finals.
The team to beat is MOUZ NXT, winners of the previous two iterations of the competition and currently #33 in the HLTV World Ranking. The mix of European players, coached by Dennis ‘sycrone’ Nielsen, has been climbing the ranks ever since their debut on June 28th 2021. Having competed with more than just academy teams, MOUZ NXT has faced competition from Europe’s tier 2 and even Major-attending teams, such as Entropiq and FURIA, having won against the Russian team and lost against the Brazilians. The community has expressed its admiration for this MOUZ NXT roster, to the point some personalities are asking for MOUZ to call up some of their academy players to the main roster.
During season 2 of WePlay Academy League, NAVI Junior showed potential to beat the MOUZ academy team but fell short. Now, with the departure of Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilyev and the benching of young star Ilya ‘m0NESY’ Osipov, things are not looking bright for the CIS squad.
One team that has been rising, is FNATIC Rising. Whilst FNATIC ‘s main roster was struggling after some roster moves, the academy team was competing against their peers and was able to develop good chemistry despite the very different cultures present in the team. With three players from the Nordic regions, one from the Balkans and another from Southern Europe, FNATIC Rising is one of the most intercultural teams from the academy league, something that hasn’t come up as a problem when talking about team performance.
Even though the Swedish organization’s academy team is the best in the country, the Young Ninjas, Ninjas in Pyjamas’ academy team, can compete against them, and maybe win against MOUZ NXT, as they did in the early stage of WePlay Academy League Season 1. Let’s not forget about the remaining teams, as all but one have shown glimpses of their value from time to time. The one team that hasn’t done that, Eternal Fire academy, will debut tomorrow, in a trial by fire, against MOUZ NXT.
The WePlay Academy League is doing wonders for the academy scene, and CS:GO scene in general. More and more organizations are putting together rosters of young players to compete in such events, and in this way are developing a lot of talent. There’s also the need to praise the levels of production during the streams of WePlay competitions, which have been stellar. Keep an eye on these youngsters, they are the future of Counter-Strike, and some of them are becoming the present right in front of our eyes.