One of the world’s most premier CS:GO events begins its LAN finals this week as 16 teams compete for their share of $750,000 in Odense, Denmark.
In one of the final tournaments of the year, the ESL Pro League finals offer 5 days of top-tier CS:GO play. ESL has decided to go with the double-elimination format with the winners of each upper bracket immediately qualifying to the semi-finals and the 2nd and 3rd in each bracket move into the quarter-finals. Ultimately, all teams are competing for the lion’s share of the $750,000 prize pool and the title of ESL Pro League champions.
Notably, a few of CS:GO’s biggest names won’t be present at the tournament due to attendance being completely dependent on performance in the online league with no invites being given out to any teams. As a result, some notable teams missing this tournament are FaZe, NiP, Fnatic and Cloud9.
Of the teams that are attending; let’s start at the top. World No.1 Astralis will be attending and of course are the favourites to win. However, it should be said that they won’t be the only main contenders in the running. This is due to Astralis looking rather mortal and beatable at the last couple of LAN events they attended after BO3 losses to FaZe at IEM Chicago and Mibr at the ECS Season 6 finals. Despite both of these losses they did go on to win each tournament, but it shows that with the right amount of preparation, other teams may have a shot at the title. Astralis will be fighting hard here though as winning the Pro League finals would be the last victory they need to win the Intel Grand Slam and $1,000,000 for their team.
Team Liquid and Mibr are also attending the finals. Team Liquid is currently ranked 2nd behind Astralis however they have yet to win an offline BO3 against this iteration of the line-up. The last time that Liquid managed to best Astralis in a big series was the semi-finals of ESL One New York 2017. Despite a rough time at the ECS Season 6 finals (they were eliminated early after a loss to NRG), Team Liquid immediately bounced back to win SuperNova CS:GO Malta and finally beat local rivals NRG in the finals. Mibr could also potentially finish well at the finals. Despite struggling a lot after the additions of Stewie2k and Tarik to the roster, at their most recent LAN they placed 2nd at the ECS Season 6 finals where they did win a series against Astralis. This could be a sign of Janko’s influence on the team as a coach leading to their success. However, we’ll have to see more from Mibr before we could say that they’re regular contenders for tournament titles.
NaVi is also attending which means we all get to look forward to some incredible plays from Simple. However, if the CIS team want to place highly at the tournament both Edward and Zeus are going to have to perform well enough so that their statistics aren’t continually hindering their team’s performance. At the last LAN they attended they were defeated by German side BIG. BIG have the potential to make the Quarter-Finals if Smooya and Nex have great statistics. Both of these sides have the potential to make the playoffs, but it would take some unusual circumstances to give them a real shot at winning.
Finally, the dark horse teams for the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals are Ghost, NRG and Mousesports. Ghost are the least likely of all of these to place well due them only playing online and this line-up only placing 3-4th at DreamHack Atlanta 2018. However, with an IGL as prolific as Steel and the fragging power of young awper Wardell, Ghost have a shot at making the playoffs. NRG could also make the playoffs here. They’ve shown in the past that they can get some upset victories over higher level Europeans teams and regularly manage to beat Liquid in BO3 series’, so if the matchups are right, they could go far here. Finally, Mousesports have the potential to make the playoffs despite a slight slump recently. This is due to players like ChrisJ and Ropz having the potential to individually take over the games.
All in all, it’s set to be 5 days of awesome to tier CS:GO and you can catch all of the action on the ESL pro league site here
The first-day group matches are shown below:
- Astralis vs ViCi
- Renegades vs HellRaisers
- Liquid vs G2
- INTZ vs BIG
- MIBR vs Sharks
- NRG vs North
- Ghost vs Mousesports
- NaVi vs Order