ESL One New York is shaping up to be one of the most exciting events of the year. There are multiple overlapping story lines such as s1mple facing team liquid for the first time since leaving and Neo putting on performances that rival his 1.6 days.

Contenders:

SK – All-round LAN specialists

It should be obvious why SK are favourites for the crown in New York.

With the tactical genius of Fallen and a deep-map pool, they’ll be a fearsome prospect for any of the world’s top teams.

The ability to counter and adapt to opposition on the fly is the main reason that they have won back-to-back major titles.

Their opponents will hope for a similar off-day similar to their final against G2 in July, when their talisman Coldzera just couldn’t reach his brilliant best.

But one-offs aside, the smart money is on another SK masterclass.

VP – Plow power

As HLTV’s second-ranked side going into New York, Virtus.pro will be hoping for performances similar to those they showed at Dreamhack Bucharest, when Neo turned back the clock to his 1.6 glory days.

Their highly-questioned decision to not make roster changes seem to have paid off, but there’s still some settling to do before The Plow hits top gear.

Their final finish will be down to which VP turns up on the day.

Underdogs:

G2 – Scream, aim, fire

G2 will be hoping to prove that their incredible performance against SK in the final of ECS season 1 final wasn’t a one-off.

In recent months they have looked inconsistent to say the least but you can never rule them out with the firepower that they possess.

The performances of Scream and Shox are vital.

Scream has been performing like his 2014 days when he was known as the one-tap king and Shox has been playing at a god-tier level again.

If these two show up in New York, G2 stand a strong chance going home with the title.

Na’vi – Seized the moment

Unfortunately for Na’vi the addition of s1mple hasn’t quite paid off, yet.

Their results of late have been lacklustre and disappointing, having only managed to place 13-16th at Starladder.

The biggest difficulty they face is how to adapt player positions to allow for s1mples’ style of play.

If they figure that out in time for ESL One, it could be the event where everything clicks into place for Na’vi.

Optic – On cloud nine

Their road to New York has been about as tough as it gets. They had to go through NRG, Immortals and Cloud9.

But having defied all odds and qualified, Optic will be looking to transfer their incredible online performances to LAN.

They’ve proved online that they are capable of going toe-to-toe with the very best and recently won a best of three vs the favourites SK.

If we went back two months, Optic would have been considered to be the weakest team in the tournament but now there by far NA’s best chances of success.

Outsiders:

Astralis – Device, a choking hazard

It’s been a turbulent three months for Astralis.

They were once considered one of the best teams in the world but are re struggling to maintain the mantle of best team in Denmark.

If they can regain some of their old form - and players such as Dev1ce and Kjaerbye turn up - they can still pose a threat to the very best.

Liquid – the s1mple effect

Despites Liquid having incredible runs at both of the last majors it’s hard to see them performing to the same level in New York.

Not only have they lost their most skilful player in s1mple, they have also lost an authoritative personality who indirectly managed his teammates’ egos.

P1mp has big shoes to fill but is a player with an abundance of experience at big events, which could prove to be liquid’s saving grace.

Fnatic – Another twist

With the addition of twist, Lekro and Wenton, Fnatic look like a side that lacks experience but have tremendous potential.

This line-up is in its early stages of development but has already shown positive signs of improvement.

Pistol rounds will play a crucial part if Fnatic are to have any success in New York.

With players such as twist, Olof and Dennis - who are all considered experts with the guns - they have a high chance of causing an upset.

It's going to be one hell of an event, so expect to see lots of great action and upsets.