The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is back with the third season of WePlay Academy League, slated to kick off on Monday, January 3, and Michael Lee is back to bring you the best bets of the opening round.
Esports Betting Tips: Monday, January 3rd
Young Ninjas vs Astralis Talent
WePlay Academy League Season 3
Young Ninjas welcomed back Linus "LNZ" Holtäng in November after he was cut from the main roster in favor of Patrick "es3tag" Hansen. But while LNZ's return might seem like a great move considering he has experience competing in tier-1, I wouldn't overreact to it.
LNZ is not someone who I would praise to much, and he definitely isn't someone who can carry Young Ninjas. Even though he will play against weaker opposition compared to what he had to face during PGL Major Stockholm 2021, that doesn't change the fact that he isn't good enough to be considered the difference-maker.
The rest of the team is decent, so Young Ninjas are not a lost cause. They placed second in the first season and finished third in November in the second season of the WePlay Academy League.
Astralis Talent are likely one of the weakest team attending the WePlay Academy Team Season 3. They were terrible in the opening two seasons, and they haven't improved one bit since.
Astralis placed seventh in the first season and seventh-eighth in the second season, so it's hard to believe they can compete for the title here. On a more positive note, Astralis made some roster changes in November and have since posted somewhat solid results, but really nothing that would make me excited about the Danes.
Young Ninjas should win this match, but since this is the first match after the break, I expect some ring rust on both sides and a bit more open affair. That's not a good enough reason to bet on Astralis, but there's a good chance we see them claim at least 11 rounds and keep it close.
Natus Vincere Junior vs BIG Academy
WePlay Academy League Season 3
Natus Vincere Junior were one of the top teams of the second WePlay Academy League season and one of the most exciting teams to watch. Although the whole team played well and deserved to win a silver medal in November, much of Natus Vincere Junior's success rested on the shoulders of Evgeniy "Aunkere" Karyat and Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov who are no longer with the team.
Even though replacing two players usually doesn't mean much in academy rosters, Aunkere and m0NESY played a massive role in NaVi Jr. and their departure will severely harm NaVi's chances to achieve anything this season. In fact, I would even argue that the Ukrainian squad won't make it farther than the first round of the playoffs.
BIG Academy were very consistent in the first two iterations of WePlay Academy League and finished both seasons in fourth place. Between that, BIG Academy also attended ESL Meisterschaft: Autumn 2021, where they could only manage a seventh-eighth place, but that's still solid for an academy team.
Unlike Natus Vincere Junior, BIG Academy did not make any changes to its CS:GO roster, so we can expect them to once again compete for the title. I don't expect them to do better than the tournament favorites, MOUZ NXT, but BIG Academy look set for another strong finish.
Without m0NESY and Aunkere, NaVi Jr. will struggle and while they might do well against other weaker teams, beating BIG Academy will be a tall order. The German squad should win easily, and I expect them to do so without letting NaVi reach double-digit rounds.
Map 1 & 2
BIG Academy -5.5 Rounds