Michael Lee is back with more esports betting predictions for the first round of matches at ESL Pro League Season 15, on Wednesday, March 23. Today he takes a look at Players vs Party Astronauts, GODSENT vs Movistar Riders and Team Liquid vs BIG.
Esports Betting Tips: Tuesday, March 22nd
Players vs Party Astronauts
ESL Pro League Season 15
Because ESL banned both Russian esports organisations (Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports) from attending the ESL Pro League, the two rosters decided to compete under neutral names. Virtus.pro became "Outsiders", while Gambit took over the name "Players". So even though they're playing under a different name, Players is the same roster as Gambit.
This will be the first meeting between Party Astronauts and Players, but even without any past H2H results, it's not difficult to know how this one will end. Party Astronauts are a second-tier team hailing from North America, which is a weak region to begin with, whereas Players are Gambit Esports roster, which is also the second-highest rated in the world.
Maybe it's not fair to say that Gambit is actually the second-best team in the world, but they're still an elite-level roster. In January, Gambit won Funspark ULTI 2021, and they added a top-six finish at IEM Katowice at the end of February, which wasn't great for their standard, but still impressive.
So even though Gambit hasn't achieved as much as they perhaps wanted to, that doesn't change the fact that they're a class above Party Astronauts. The fact that Party Astronauts even qualified for this event is shocking, but it also proves how terrible the current state of the NA scene is.
This is a match between a team that everyone can consider to be one of the top-5 in the world and a group of players that are just happy to attend their first S-Tier event. And I expect the result to show exactly that.
Players -14.5 Round (Total)
GODSENT vs Movistar Riders
ESL Pro League Season 15
GODSENT were a very competitive team throughout 2021, and they even performed well at IEM Winter, where they placed inside the top six. But since the turn of the year, the Brazilian squad has struggled to achieve much.
They ended IEM Katowice in 17th-20th place, could only manage a top-eight at Pinnacle Winter Series #2 and have recently failed to make it through RMR North American major qualifiers (twice).
Their record ahead of this match isn't great, seeing how GODSENT won just three of their last six fixtures, but only against unknown teams such as ONET4P, DotMax, and Gladiators. Even more concerning is that GODSENT dropped 13 and 12 rounds against Gladiators and ONET4P.
Clearly, something isn't clicking in GODSENT; but we might now know why. The biggest cause why GODSENT struggled to show up in 2022 was João "felps" Vasconcellos's dip in form.
He was the star player of the team in 2021, with a +1.20 average rating at the end of the year, which has dropped down to 1.04 in 2022. Felps has recently revealed that he has been struggling mentally and that he will take a break. So GODSENT will travel to Germany without felps, but that might sound worse than how it is.
He hasn't been good recently, so it's not like GODSENT will be much worse without him, especially since the team is expected to add Henrique "HEN1" Teles as a replacement. HEN1 might fit in well with the team, and there is a chance where he shows how good the "old" HEN1 from FURIA was, but I would first want to wait and see if he still "has it".
Like GODSENT, Movistar Riders have not achieved much this year and based on what we have seen from them, they are not weaker nor much stronger than GODSENT. Assuming HEN1 doesn't do exceptionally well in his first match with the new team, I can imagine Movistar keeping it close, but even if he does, Movistar Riders are not a team you could just brush off.
Take over 2.5 maps!
Team Liquid vs BIG
ESL Pro League Season 15
BIG are priced as 1.61 favourites for this match, and I don't see a problem with that. Team Liquid might look very good on paper, but I just don't have any faith in this project.
They placed seventh-eighth at IEM Winter in December and fourth at BLAST Premier World Final 2021, which is not terrible – but their results in 2022 are. Since forming a new roster, which welcomed back Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella from Valorant, Liquid has not achieved a single good result.
Last month Liquid attended BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2022 and Intel Extreme Masters XVI – Katowice and produced disappointing results in both, finishing in 10th-12th and 13th-16th, respectively. Record-wise, Liquid are 4-1 ahead of this match, but they've only won against Levitate, BigRig, Strife, and TeamOne. And they even got beaten by Complexity (14-16).
I'm not saying BIG has been phenomenal this season, but they have played much better than Liquid. They won a bronze medal from Funspark ULTI 2021 and finished fourth-sixth at BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2022, but, like Liquid, failed to show up at IEM Katowice, where they lost against Astralis and Fnatic (who both placed higher than Liquid).
I anticipate BIG to win, but it won't be a clean game. Expect a close match and all three maps.