The December finals of ECS Season 2 are just a month away, and we’ve almost got our contenders ready to take their places in the playoffs. There’s still a couple of weeks left for those on the cusp of qualifying to bag themselves a ticket to California for a shot at a podium place, but it’s not going to be easy.

On both sides of the Atlantic, teams are already showing off the reasons they deserve to be in Anaheim Arena this December earning their share of this season’s $750,000 prize pot. For just a taster of what we can expect when they do, we’ve picked out five of those reasons to get you hyped to see some of these teams when the pressure’s really turned on at the finals.

Cloud9 v Immortals

The young Brazilian Immortals squad made quite a scene qualifying for the ECS ahead of top flight NA teams like Echo Fox, and they’ve continued to impress so far in the region. This early match-up against Cloud9 stretched both teams to test their endurance with a triple overtime finale. There are some stand-out plays from both sides of the encounter as everyone tries to keep their cool when the pressure mounts. This leads to some intense defuses as things get scrappy in the final rounds. But the breaking point came in the third overtime with a clutch ace from Stewie2k to break the deadlock and set the wheels in motion for a C9 victory.

CounterLogic Gaming v SK Gaming

The world-class Brazilians showed some rare moments of weakness allowing CLG to shine in one of the first shock finishes of qualifiers. It hasn’t harmed SK Gaming’s odds much as they quickly got back into the swing of things and are clear at the top of the table for the moment. It’s now almost a certainty we’ll be seeing them back in the playoffs to make-up for their loss at the hands of ECS Season one’s champions, G2 Esports, even if they did look a bit spotty during the qualifiers. But none of that detracts from how well Koosta played in their match-up, especially with a 2v1 clutch and a sweet line-up spray to round out an ace in round 21.

Virtus.pro v FaZe

One of the more back-and-forth games of the EU qualifiers so far pit the Poles of Virtus.pro against FaZe. With Pasha, Snax and Neo on a roll for most of the game, the turning point came late into the 20th round and a clinical 3K from rain to retake the B site on Overpass. Being in the right place to trade for his team-mate on site gives the Norwegian all the information he needs to put on some quick retake pressure before the bomb’s even down. From an 11-8 deficit, rain then goes on to push his team past the 16-round finish post while letting VP only get one more win on the board.

EnVyUs v Astralis

Probably the most surprising result so far in the tournament is EnVyUs challenging for top spot in the EU table, after almost a year-long slump. No doubt spurred on by the return of their favourite map, Inferno, with a fresh, hot lick of paint. But even on the currently active maps they’ve found their old mojo with sharpshooter KennyS going two kills short of a 30-bomb against Astralis on Dust. Included in that performance was a single-handed defense of long with a wrist-breaking flick to snatch Device out of the air.

Optic v Liquid

Sometimes strats don’t have to be perfectly timed or using every single nade and bit of kit you can buy in CS:GO to be impressive. Optic and Liquid’s clash on Nuke had plenty of smart eco-friendly outplays and reversals of fortune for each side as Liquid went on to eke out a 16-14 win. But it was the humble handgun that stole the show in the end. Optic’s RUSH had two incredible sessions in the match, first with a USP-S 3K in the opening pistol round, and then again with an eco-round P250 4K as team-mate NAF distracted Liquid from his boosted position. Proving it’s not the size of the gun, but how you handle it.

There’s a few weeks of matches yet before teams get to join the ranks of those on their way to California. Judging by the skill on show above, those who make it are going to be putting on one hell of a show.