The curtain will fall on ESL Pro League Season 10 with one last event, which will pin top 16 CS:GO teams from all around the globe against each other in the ESL Pro League Finals. The said event is set to take place between December 3-8 in Denmark, with the group stage slated to be played at Odense Congress Center and playoffs at Jyske Bank Arena.
Participating at the tournament, we have 16 CS:GO teams from four regions, who will duke it out for a shot at the ESL Pro League title and the largest slice of a US$600,000 prize pool alongside a direct invite to IEM Katowice 2020 for the champion.
All of the teams had to earn their spot at the event via qualifiers, as there were no direct invites sent out, meaning we are going to see the cream of the crop of the CS:GO competitive scene. Teams participating at the event by region are:
Europe: mousesports, Heroic, Astralis, NaVi, G2, FaZe, North, Fnatic
Americas: MiBR, EG, Team Liquid, Sharks, ATK, 100 Thieves
The mentioned teams have already been seeded into two double-elimination GSL groups based on their regular season placements, where all the opening matches will be played as best-of-one (Bo1) and the following in Bo3. Top three teams from each group will advance into playoffs.
Group A: NaVi, TYLOO, FaZe, MiBR, Heroic, 100 THieves, Fnatic, EG
Group B: Astralis, Grayhound, G2, Sharks, mousesports, ATK, North, Team Liquid
Now that we have covered all that is to know about the tournament, it's time to dig deep into our betting preview, where we look over the teams, their players, form, results and ultimately give our predictions on do we believe has what it takes to go the distance and impress.
The "Whipping boys" of ESL Pro League Finals
We will start our tournament preview with four teams that simply don't make the cut as they are objectively the weakest of the 16 and have zero to no chance of going the distance. Teams that fall into this group are Sharks ($301.00 at Skrilla), ATK ($201.00), TYLOO ($101.00) and Grayhound ($101.00). There is not a lot to be said about the mentioned teams and their chances to prevail here. None are even close to matching up with the favorites and they will need a miracle to win a single game, let alone make it out of the group.
“Not quite there yet”
Next up we have North ($67.00 at Skrilla) and G2 Esports ($51.00) who are both priced very generously and it's easy to see why. Neither team managed to inspire much hope they can win here with their performances in recent months. G2 have been on a rapid decline since September when they parted ways with Richard "shox" Papillon and Lucas "Lucky" Chastang. Since then, G2 had their moments of greatness, but if we draw a line, their results were mostly underwhelming. We believe G2 could slowly find their rhythm and start performing on a high level, but as it stands now, they are still far from reaching their full potential. North on the other side have experienced an even worse drop in form, seeing how they descended from rank 12 to rank 21. Despite being a solid team overall, North simply lack the needed quality which would convince us they can make something happen here. Odds here seem spot on, as we don't trust either to impress and make it to the top.
Moving up, we have four teams who are priced as underdogs and while we can't count on them to impress and claim the title, teams which will be mentioned in this group are more than capable of upsetting some of the stronger sides. Four teams we will touch here are Heroic ($34.00 at Skrilla), mousesports ($26.00), MiBR ($17.00) and Natus Vincere ($17.00).
Heroic and mousesports are priced as the weakest of the bunch and we can completely agree with that. While it is true mousesports and Heroic claimed the top two seeds of ESL Pro League European qualifiers, we would not put too much weight on that result, especially considering they were both seeded in relatively weak groups. Other than that, Heroic won DreamHack Open Atlanta 2019 mid-November, while mousesports produced an upset run at CS:GO Asia Championships 2019 to clinch the title. Are those two runs a sign mouz and Heroic can win here? Not likely. The lineup is way too stacked for their quality, and while an upset win or two are possible, anything more is in our eyes nearly impossible.
MiBR and NaVi suffer from the same problem heading into this tournament and that is inconsistency. We cannot deny the fact both teams have some exceptional players in their teams and are in theory capable of making a solid run. In fact, if everything clicks for either of the two, we could even see them reach the finals. That said, the so-called "clicks" are very scarce for those two teams and for that reason, we decided to avoid placing a wager on them.
Not quite the favorites, yet not underdogs
Out of FaZe ($11.00 at Skrilla), 100 Thieves ($9.00) and Fnatic ($9.00), it's the Swedes who are in our eyes the strongest of the bunch. FaZe are a team no one should underestimate simply due to immense individual talent their players possess. That's being said, they lack a solid IGL, which would take them from being a good team to being a great team. In our eyes, FaZe are a ticking time bomb. They can explode and overrun any team they face with or implode and play like a B-Tier team. There is always a certain degree of uncertainty with them and for that reason, we will avoid placing a wager on them. 100 Thieves on the other side seem a bit overrated in our eyes. They made a solid run at IEM Beijing, but we can't ignore they got decimated by Astralis in the finals. They are a solid team, but we believe 100 Thieves are priced way too low here and we blame all the hype around the newly formed team for that. It’s rather shocking to see them priced as low as Fnatic, who are in our eyes a far better team.
On the topic of Fnatic, they are a team no one should ignore. While they had their iffy moments in recent weeks, they have one of the most experienced rosters in the tournament. Looking at their road to the playoffs, we can trust them they will go the distance and finish top three. Their biggest obstacle will come in game one, where they will meet with EG, who are in a very questionable form. From what we have seen, Fnatic are more than capable of defeating EG and with $5.50 offered on Fnatic to win the group, we will gladly take our chances and predict Maikil "Golden" Selim and his team to clinch the first seed in group A.
It should not come off as a shock we have Team Liquid ($6.00 at Skrilla), Evil Geniuses ($5.00) and Astralis ($2.50) as the three main favorites to win the title in Odense and considering the mentioned teams are also the top three teams in global rankings, there is no way to argue with the odds. Or is there?
To start off, we must address all three favorites are objectively the strongest teams in the tournament and possibly the strongest teams that ever appeared in the history of professional CS:GO scene. That said, the theory is not always put into practice and even teams who are seen as favorites can fall from grace. That was a far too frequent occurrence for Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses in recent weeks with their iffy performances, which made us question whether they are really as solid as they look to be on paper.
We can't quite put our finger on what they are doing wrong, but it's obvious they are not playing to their full potential. They might find their rhythm in this tournament and make their way into the finals, but with their questionable form, we would not be surprised if they crash out of the tournament prematurely.
Astralis, who are priced as the main favorites, on the other side, managed to live up to the expectations put on them. While the Danes had their "iffy moments", Astralis know how to perform up to par when it matters. They won StarLadder Berlin Major, decimated 100 Thieves at IEM Beijing and put up a show at ECS Finals. Astralis, just like any other team can fall flat and underperform but with their current form, it would be a mistake not to back them up to claim the ESL Pro League title this December.
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