It’s a busy couple of weeks for diehard CS:GO bettors. Even as the ECS Finals are going on, the other major CS:GO league’s finals loom in the distance. That’s right, the ESL Pro League Finals begin in just a few short days, which means it’s time for a preview of one of the best events in the CS:GO circuit. With a much larger field of teams, 16 to be exact, from four regions around the world, competing in two double elimination groups, this is one of the most exhaustive events of the year. With all that going on it can be difficult to determine where the smart money should be placed, which is why I’m here. I’ll lay out the best bets for the tournament, talk about the groups, and let you know where you should be putting your cold hard cash.
Like I said in the intro, this tournament has one of the most exhaustive formats in the scene right now, as do all of ESL’s big tournaments. The field of 16 teams is split up into two groups, and seeded into double elimination brackets based on their regular season placing. The top three teams are then put into a single elimination bracket, with the best team in each group earning a bye into the Semi Finals.
So, I figure the best way to talk about this tournament is to discuss first one group, then the other, as the groupings will have a sizable effect on who makes it into the playoffs, which is obviously something important to consider when talking about who will win the tournament. That means that this preview won’t be in order from favorite to biggest longshot, but I’m sure you guys can handle a bit of a shakeup.
*Odds provided by Betway.com
Evil Geniuses +350
EG have the second best odds to win the tournament, which feels like as good of an approximation as any. At the time of me writing this EG are 1-1 in the ECS group stage after a tough loss to Liquid, but that’s not a disqualifier for this team as one of the favorites – their resume over the last month or so is. EG have gone out 5th-6th at both of their last two LANs, with tough losses to FaZe and Mousesports to knock them out of each. While I don’t want to knock them too much for their performance at the CS:GO Asia Championship, as the eye test showed it was an off tournament for them, but getting 2-0’d by MIBR and Mousesports is less than encouraging.
What’s funny is their problems over the last month look like the inverse of their problems in early 2019. Their best performer is CeRq by a mile, as his 1.09 K/D and 1.07 Rating are the best marks on the team by a mile. While neither of those figures are impressive compared to most of the CS:GO scene (and certainly not impressive compared to other star AWPers in Tier One), they are impressive relative to the abysmal performances from the rest of his team.
EG have played 17 maps on LAN in the past month, and CeRq is the only player on the team with a positive K/D or Rating. Ethan comes close with a 0.98 Rating, but the rest are far below 0.95, with K/Ds under 0.90. Brehze has been perhaps the biggest disappointment, with a team low 0.77 K/D, a far cry from his stellar marks in the middle of 2019.
I don’t think a bounce back at the EPL Finals are terribly likely. While it’s certainly possible considering the pedigree of this team, they’re at the ECS Finals while I’m writing this, and they’ll need to hop on a plane at the end of the event and jump back several time zones, from Texas to Denmark to play at the EPL Finals. I’d consider them a stay away for this event.
100 Thieves +800
100 Thieves are an interesting team to talk about, primarily due to their weird resume over the last month. They attended IEM Beijing, where they made an impressive run to a Grand Finals appearance. Wins over Vitality and a surging (sort of) ENCE made for a memorable run that was overshadowed by Astralis’ historic run (which I wrote about here[HYPERLINK]). They faced Astralis twice at the event, losing all five maps by an average of almost eight rounds.
How good was this performance? The win over Vitality was impressive, but how much do we penalize them for losing to maybe the best team of all time, on one of the best tournament runs.
I think the answer is not much, although I still don’t love them to win this tournament. +800 isn’t great value for these guys, and this lineup has yet to actually win a big LAN event. I don’t know if JKS can be the best guy on a title winning team, and their depth beyond him is good at best.
If you read me often, you’ll know I have sort of a thing for Fnatic. As much as I try to avoid using classic sports attitudes and clichés, this is a team of professional, veteran guys that know how to win games, who all trust their IGL and his system, playing good, clean, classic Counter Strike. In CS:GO, just like in baseball or basketball, that really matters. Just look at the Nationals World Series win.
This team consistently outperforms their underlying stats, with multiple Grand Finals appearances in the last three months without a player Rated over 1.15. Still, any of their veteran guys can pop off for a map, a series, a tournament, and outperform their averages to push this team into championship contention. KRIMZ and JW especially both have superstar performances over the last three months, with KRIMZ’s DreamHack Masters Malmo and JW’s ECS Finals (so far) jumping out.
I like these guys a lot at +800. They’ve impressed me consistently since adding Golden back into the lineup, and I think they have a shot at pretty much every tournament they attend. They are in arguably the harder group, and they have one of the hardest paths to make the playoffs in theory, as they will likely have to beat EG, 100 Thieves, and then the best of MIBR, FaZe, and TyLoo, which is no easy feat. Still, I like these guys to make the Grand Finals at least, if not wow us and take the whole thing.
FaZe Clan +1000
FaZe have had a tough year. Since the loss of Karrigan they’ve cycled through a handful of stand ins before landing probably the most sought after free agent since NiKo, coldzera. Since adding the Brazilian super star, as well as a young FPL sensation Broky, they’ve won exactly one tournament, BLAST Copenhagen, without even another Grand Finals appearance.
Still, things might be looking up for FaZe. Their talent level is undeniable, with NiKo, coldzera, rain and olofmeister all having been top 10 players at some point in their career. While NiKo in game leading still isn’t a great idea, their wins over the last month or so are impressive. They’ve won series over Fnatic, Vitality, and Evil Geniuses, which is nothing to sneeze at.
I actually kind of like FaZe at +1000. They’re in maybe the softest part of the softest group, as all that stands in the way of a playoff spot is MIBR, and one of TyLoo and Na’Vi, which should be encouraging for FaZe fans. I’ll put them down as a maybe, we’ll come back to them.
Na’Vi just can’t seem to figure out this whole team building thing. After dropping Zeus, a move that I still have mixed feelings about, they shifted the IGL responsibilities to Boombl4, moved s1mple to (essentially) full time rifling, and added GuardiaN to pick up the Main AWP role. While all of these seemed like good enough ideas in theory, the results seem to indicate that a mistake was made.
Obviously, it’s still too early to properly evaluate the moves, but GuardiaN is averaging a 0.95 Rating, and it’s absolutely tanking this team. Despite s1mple’s 1.33 K/D, and electronic’s 1.23 for that matter, the team’s best win so far is I guess a 2-1 victory over G2? Their loses include an 0-2 to Heroic, a 1-2 to Vitality, and a best of one loss to FaZe.
It certainly isn’t inconceivable for them to turn it around, as they’ve had some time off to reconfigure their system, but I don’t see them contending for a title in Odense while carrying GuardiaN’s dead weight. The AWP is just too expensive, and his impact is too low for them to beat even teams like 100 Thieves.
Yet another team in a strange roster spot. After the seemingly abrupt departure of Coldzera in July, the team has been floundering. The addition of kNg was a smart move in theory, and one that I was excited about, but he has yet to impress so far. In fact, over the last month, FalleN is the only guy on the team with a positive K/D, clocking in at 1.09 and a Rating of 1.07.
Their last LAN tournament was a mixed bag, with a rather dominant win over EG and an embarrassing 1-2 loss to ENCE. So far ECS has been similar, with a loss to Fnatic early with an admittedly excellent performance from kNg.
This team feels too disjointed to make it through the group stage in their current form, much less make a run at the Finals.
TyLoo were one of the big surprises of the CS:GO Asia Championship, which actually isn’t terribly surprising if you’ve been a CS:GO bettor for long. Wins over G2, MIBR, and a 1-2 loss to Mousesports is pretty impressive, along with the individual performances of all the TyLoo players (Summer, somebody and BnTeT were the top three best performers at the event), but this is kind of TyLoo’s MO. They show up to an international tournament, stun the scene with a big upset win (usually off the back of a superstar performance from BnTeT), then they fade back into obscurity.
While it’s certainly possible TyLoo could make playoffs, I definitely would not want to have any money riding on these guys. Their style of play is exciting, but more importantly, it’s inconsistent. I imagine we won’t see TyLoo play this well until the New Challengers Stage of next year’s Major.
Guess how many roster changes Heroic has made this year, over/under eight. The answer is like 16, depending on how you count benchings and signings and whatnot. It amazes me that the Danish scene can’t put together more than one Tier One team, considering how deep the region is, but oh well. All I really have to say about Heroic is it’s a shame that they got this spot instead of Vitality.
So, out of the teams in Group A, I think I actually like Fnatic the best. Yes, I know they have maybe the most difficult path to the playoffs out of anyone at the event, but I don’t feel great about EG, or 100 Thieves really. A lot of these teams feel like they’re not in the best form, so I’ll put my faith in the system of Fnatic to push them through.