Esports Championship Series Season 8 will culminate with the final event, set to kick off this Thursday, November 29 and conclude three days later, with the grand finals on Sunday, December 1, at Esports Stadium in Arlington, Virginia. ECS Season 8 Finals will feature eight teams - four from European region and four from NA region, who will duke it out for the title of ECS champions and the largest slice of US$500,000 prize pool.
Teams have been seeded into two double-elimination GSL groups with four teams in each. All opening fixtures in the group are played as best-of-one (Bo1), with all the following matches played as Bo3. Playoffs will feature top two teams from each group who will compete in a single-elimination bracket, which will continue to use the Bo3 format for all the matches, including the grand finals.
Group A: AVANGAR, Evil Geniuses, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid
Group B: Astralis, Fnatic, MIBR, Sharks Esports
Now let's look over the teams, their strengths, weaknesses and ultimately their chance to triumph at Esports Stadium and claim the title of ECS champions.
Shark Esports ($201.00 at Skrilla) earned their spot at ECS Finals by finishing fourth at ECS - NA, which was a praiseworthy achievement, yet we cannot expect them to produce any miracles here. Sharks are clearly inferior to all other teams at the tournament and should have hard time winning one game, let alone making it out of the group. Their first match will be against Astralis in Bo1, which does suggest an upset is possible, but we would not count on it.
AVANGAR ($41.00) are entering the ECS Finals priced as heavy underdogs and based on their overall form and the group they have been seeded in, we don't believe they will be able to impress. Since their runner-up finish at StarLadder Berlin, AVANGAR have been rapidly declining in form and while they are still capable of producing an upset, AVANGAR are nowhere near strong enough to claim the trophy here or make a deep run.
As far as MiBR ($13.00) and NiP ($13.00) are concerned, they are both priced at the same odds and we believe that is fair. Neither have impressed with their performance lately and while they are both clearly superior to Sharks and AVANGAR, we do not believe they have what it takes to defeat the top four favorites. That said, we could see one of them produce an upset win in the group stage, but when it comes to winning the whole thing, we have some serious doubts about their chances. We would advise against betting on NiP and MiBR simply because their results are way too inconsistent.
That leaves us with the top four favorites - Fnatic, Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses and Astralis.
We will start off with Fnatic ($8.00), who are priced very generously to win the whole thing, and we can't help but feel like the Swedes are severely underrated here. In the last month, Fnatic won DreamHack masters Malmo, finished second at StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8 and claimed a silver medal at ECS - Europe, which are all solid results. Fnatic have been on the rise recently and with the individual quality they have on their roster, we would not be surprised if they can make it to the finals.
Team Liquid ($7.00) are priced as third favorites to claim the title which does raise the question of whether they are really weaker compared to Evil Geniuses ($6.00). Both sides have been producing some questionable results recently and we can't wrap our mind around what they are doing. Team Liquid looked very shaky at BLAST Pro Series: Copenhagen which was also their last tournament, meaning TL have not played a single competitive match on almost a month.
Evil Geniuses on the other side looked even worse at CS:GO Asia Championships, where they lost to mouz (0-2), MiBR (0-2) and FaZe twice (1-2, 0-2). Those are not the results people expected from the star-studded EG team and does not inspire much hope they are capable of making something happen here. With that in mind, we will not be betting on EG. TL to reach the finals at $3.00 does come off as a solid bet, but because we did not see them play in three weeks, we will skip betting on them as well.
Last but not least we have Astralis ($1.83), who are without doubt the strongest team present at the tournament and the odds offered on them reflect that. The Danes had their moments when they underperformed, but as it seems they have found their rhythm and are now back at the top. Astralis are arriving at ECS Finals fresh off a dominant run at IEM Beijing, where they decimated everyone in their path to claim the title. Astralis might not be as strong as they were in their prime, but if we take into consideration their quality and form and compare it to other teams present at ECS Finals, it's clear this tournament is Astralis' to lose.
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