SK Gaming rises during penultimate week of NA EPL play

SK Gaming standout Marcelo "coldzera" David celebrates a round victory against Team Liquid during the ESL One New York semifinals on Sept. 16. Patrick Strack/Provided by ESL

After a super-sized Week 5 of the North American ESL Pro League, it was back to a normal pace for the penultimate week of Season 6. SK Gaming and OpTic Gaming secured playoff spots this week, while the rest of the teams continue to battle for the final four postseason positions.

While OpTic Gaming (16-6, 48 points) had been in the driver's seat all season long, SK Gaming (16-6, 49 points) continued its tear through North America with a perfect week that put the team in first place by a hair.

SK had probably the easiest slate of any team with matchups against bottom-dwellers Rogue (5-14, 15 points) and Ghost Gaming (3-19, 10 points). Ghost put up a bit of a fight in the first game that ended at 16-13 in SK's favor, but all three other games saw SK's opponents fail to win 10 rounds. With a series against OpTic in the final week, the first seed will likely come down to the wire.

Speaking of OpTic, the Green Wall showed some cracks this week with a 1-1 showing against Counter Logic Gaming (14-8, 42 points). CLG, one of the surprises from this season, played OpTic incredibly close in the first game on Train, which ended as a 16-14 CLG win. The second game on Cache was stomp, however, as OpTic stabilized for a 16-1 win. Still, the one loss was all SK needed to leapfrog OpTic into the top spot.

CLG is a team that few had high hopes for coming into the season. When a team's most memorable moment over the last year is a player accidentally not fully defusing a bomb while on match point and eventually losing a series, it certainly hasn't been a good season. After steadily gaining ground all season, however, CLG has put itself into the third seed after a 4-2 week. The team split with OpTic and Luminosity Gaming (11-9, 32 points), while taking a 2-0 sweep against Rogue. With matchups against Splyce (7-15, 22 points) and compLexity Gaming (7-11, 21 points) in the final week, CLG should have little issue keeping a hold on the third seed.

The final three spots in the playoff standings are nothing new, as Team Liquid (14-6, 39 points), Luminosity, and Misfits (10-8, 32 points) stayed in the picture. That being said, there is plenty of opportunity for some movement in the fifth and sixth seeds during the final week. Luminosity, Misfits, NRG Esports (11-9, 32 points), Cloud9 (10-8, 29 points) and Renegades (10-10, 29 points) are all within three points of one another going into Week 7.

There are a few matches that will likely decide this race, giving plenty of intrigue to the final week. Misfits will face off against both NRG Esports and Cloud9, while NRG will have an additional series against Luminosity. This certainly has potential to be one of the closest finishes in Pro League history, with the new overtime point system having a nice shot at resolving a few tiebreakers.

Season 6 of the Pro League has brought about some exciting developments, and with one more week left in the regular season, there is plenty excitement left. SK Gaming, OpTic Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid, Luminosity Gaming and Misfits make up the current top-six.

Fans will have to wait a bit for the conclusion of the regular season, however. The Pro League will take two weeks off before closing out the season because of DreamHack Denver and other events.

Week 7 will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 7 with Renegades and Rogue battling it out.