Another chapter will be written to the ESL Impact League book once the Season 3 Finals begin from June 2nd to the 4th. Eight teams will compete in Dallas, Texas, the site of DreamHack, to decide which among them deserves the title as best team in the world for women’s CS.
The field comprises three teams from Europe, two from South America, two from North America, and one from Asia. Whereas this Finals will feature familiar names of the circuit, such as the defending champion Nigma Galaxy, it will also feature newcomers who are looking to make major noise in the Lone Star State, such as Black Dragons Female or Shimmer.
As such, here is a preview for all the teams taking part in the ESL Impact League Season 3 Finals in Dallas, Texas. All stats shown below were cited from HLTV.org.
Credit: ESl | Michał Konkol
Another day, another tournament, and another stream of expectations beckoning Nigma Galaxy as the favorite for another Impact League crown. This team will look to obtain their fifth consecutive title in the circuit since it began last year in the same setting of Dallas. While it is true Nigma had to steer past better opposition in the lead-up to the Season 3 Finals, such as their defeat to NIP Impact in the group stage, which ended their 30-match unbeaten run in the Impact League, they remained at the top of their game.
Such a performance was spearheaded by Ana 'ANa' Dumbravă. The three-time MVP award winner led Nigma within European Divisional play in rating (1.39), 85.7 DPR, 0.86 KPR, 1.39 impact rating, and 229 total kills.
Around the same time Nigma became the best team in women’s CS in the Season 1 Finals, over in Poland, a new squad emerged who would eventually reach the same level as their adversaries. This team, an independent stack known as Totalne Gituwy, soon became NAVI Javelins around the end of Season 1. From that point onwards, NAVI continued improving. Consistently placing Top 4 in Season 2 EU play and Valencia 2022, second in GIRLGAMER Esports Festival: Ceuta and Katowice 2023, and first in the IESF Female World Esports Championship and the Gamers Without Borders Female charity competition.
Although NAVI made a change in their lineup by adding Martyna “LETi” Owsik for Danuta “Danuu” Grajkowska, it ultimately did little to hinder their ascent in competitive women’s CS. Moreover, it consolidated them as a major contender for the title alongside Nigma.
The key player to look out for in NAVI is their IGL Wiktoria “vicu” Janicka, who led EU in numerous categories like rating (1.45), DPR (93.2), KPR (0.94), and impact rating (1.58).
9 Pandas Fearless
Credit: ESL | Stephanie Lindgren
Sure, Nigma and NAVI have grabbed most of the attention in women’s CS, but let’s not forget about 9 Pandas Fearless, a team that has more or less kept pace with those aforementioned teams throughout their time in the league. Previously known as NOFEAR5, the all-Russian lineup of Elizaveta “Elizabeth” Ashchina, Ksenia “Ksu” Volkova, Viktoriia “victoria” Ukasova, Svetlana “f6tal” Shidlovskaya and Tatyana “t4tty” Vorontsova arrive in Dallas as Europe’s third seed after defeating BIG EQUIPA 2-0 in the playoffs.
This came off the back of a 5-6th finish in Katowice 2023, where they fell to FURIA Female in the Group B Decider Match 2-0. Even so, the team did show strong performances by winning two EU Winter Cash Cups and FASTCUP AURORA, alongside finishing 3-4th in Gamers Without Borders.
A player to watch out from 9 Pandas has to be Elizabeth, who finished with a 1.20 rating, 79.4% KAST, and 82.8 DPR, all of which ranks at the top within the team.
B4 Esports Female
Credit: B4 Esports
A paradigm shift has happened in Brazilian CS so far in 2023. With FURIA failing to qualify for the S3 Finals, which marks the first time the org missed an ESL Impact League LAN, a new team has stepped up to become the region’s best: B4 Esports. The org formally entered the women’s CS scene in late June 2022 by picking up the team that parted ways from Black Dragons.
Though in recent times, B4 lagged behind in the title picture on the international front; such as their 5-6th finish in the S2 Finals and their semifinal run in Katowice 2023, on the domestic front, they’ve been borderline unbeatable. B4 placed 1st in numerous events like Gamers Club Liga Série Feminina: 1st Edition 2023, 1xChallenge, two South American Cash Cup tournaments, Gamers Club Masters Feminina VI and MEG Female 202
During SA Divisional play, B4 went a perfect 6-0 with a round differential of +107 before taking down MIBR in the playoffs off a close 2-0 result. In fact, dating back to Season 2, B4’s current iteration is 12-0 against other SA foes in Divisional play.
The biggest name to consider from B4 is undoubtedly Giovanna “yungher” Yungh, who led SA in rating (1.39), total AWP kills (147), and impact rating (1.44). Like the rest of the team, she will look to take the next step in their development as a major power in the Impact League.
Black Dragons Female
Credit: BBL | Saymon Sampaio
The second Brazilian team competing at Dallas is Black Dragons Female, who return to an Impact League LAN for the first time since the Season 1 Finals. Contrary to the team that played in Dallas last year, this year sees a new lineup make their debut on women’s CS’ grandest stage. Led by Letícia “Le^” Lima as the IGL, the team started in March 2022 as an independent stack known as “Quem sao ela,” which translates to English as “Who are they.”
It didn’t take long for people to figure out exactly who they were as a team. After finishing Top 4 for numerous events like Cash Cups and other leagues, the “Quem sao elas” stack was signed by BD in late July 2022; after the org’s previous lineup left to join B4. In early November, BD reloaded by bringing in Amanda “s1non” Sheronstone, bringing them to its current version.
With a new org in hand, the team picked up right where they left off by continuing to finish near the top of their domestic leagues (even though the majority of those results were caused by losses to B4 in the grand finals) and improving well enough to defeat FURIA in the playoffs to qualify for Dallas.
Be on the lookout for BD’s entry fragger Ana Carolina “annaEX” Brito, who finished the SA Division with a rating of 1.22, 91.7 DPR, 289 total kills, 50 opening kills, a 60.2% opening duel success rate and a 1.36 impact rating.
The dissolving of Counter Logic Gaming Red marked a critical moment in North American women’s CS. The Red branch, which had long been touted as the gold standard for women in esports, closed its doors after the Madison Square Garden Sports Corporation decided to combine the CLG org with NRG.
As a result, the move left the team orgless from the fifth round of the group stage onwards. Despite shouldering those unforeseen circumstances, the now ex-CLG Red team maintained its stranglehold on NA by qualifying to Dallas without losing a single match (7-0) and dropping just a single map (on Overpass vs. Shimmer in Round 2 of groups).
While the end of the CLG Red name could’ve marked the end of this team, they’re playing as though they’ve been galvanized by the rough position they find themselves in. Furthermore, they have done so in a way that won’t create regrets when their run finishes, whenever that may be.
Sure, the brunt of the lineup sits near the top of the individual stat leaderboard, but among them, Vivienne "BiBiAhn" Quach is the one that has shined the brightest. She finished NA Divisional play as the one of the best in rating (1.57), KPR (0.95), deaths per round (0.53), KAST (82.7%), damage per round (100.7), total kills (339), total headshots (167) and impact rating (1.66).
The future beyond Dallas may be uncertain for this ex-CLG Red team, but one thing is for certain: they’re going to come guns ablazing no matter what.
Of all the teams taking part in the Season 3 Finals, one qualified without any support from an org whatsoever (on a technicality, CLG Red existed well into Divisional play until April 6): Shimmer.
This team was born in February for IEM Rio 2023 NA open qualifying before eventually trying their hand at appearing in Season 3 of the Impact League.
It features familiar names in women’s CS such as Lucy “empathy” Verkaik, who played for Evil Geniuses Gold last year, Lynn “Lx_” Clarke, who competed in Valorant for Gen.G Black from 2021 to August 2022 before switching to CS, Lisa “Lisa” Nguyen, who notably played for Saints in 2022, and Vanessa “Vanessa” Gideon, who last played with Please Send Bocks during Katowice 2023 qualifiers and Slay for NA Division Season 1.
For Season 3, Shimmer finished second in Group A with a 4-2 record and a +36 round differential despite losing to ex-CLG Red on both occasions in the group stage. That then led to a playoff match against Detonate SparX, the other undefeated team in NA, and although Shimmer lost in the first map, they bounced back with a resounding 16-1 win in Nuke before taking the series in Ancient by a 16-12 result.
Shimmer’s leading player is empathy, who went with a 1.38 rating, 105.8 damage per round, 359 total kills, 85 total assists, 179 total headshots, 76 total opening kills, and a 1.69 impact rating.
Credit: ESL | Stephanie Lindgren
With Asia receiving a slot by ESL for the Season 3 Finals, the region held a qualifier in April to decide its representative in Dallas. By the end, it was none other than HSG who became the last team standing.
Contrary to last year in which fans saw HSG as an unknown team with a few recognizable names, this year’s version is everything beyond that description — given that they signed one of women’s CS’ biggest names around: Olga “olga” Rodrigues. After departing from FURIA at the end of Katowice 2023, olga decided to take her talents to China and join HSG as its newest member alongside IGL Ramona “GFi” Azween forming a dynamic duo on the server.
As soon as the news of her arrival at HSG hit the airwaves, it became clear this team is going to present a far bigger challenger to their rivals once DreamHack rolls around. This new team looks to best their previous mark in Katowice 2023, which saw them finish 5-6th off a Group A Decider Match loss to B4 and surpass their 3-4th finish in the Season 2 Finals.