ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals Tournament Preview

The ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals LAN event is starting today and as a result, this week will be filled to the brim with top CS:GO matches and excellent CS:GO betting opportunities. A total of 16 teams will be participating in the tournament and they’ll be fighting for a 750,000 dollars prize pool.

Teams and competitive format

ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals brings together 16 of the world’s best teams. These teams will be split initially into two groups of 8.

Group A:

  • Cloud9
  • NRG Esports
  • Heroic
  • Natus Vincere
  • MVP PK
  • mousesports
  • Sharks Esports
  • FaZe Clan

Group B:

  • OpTic Gaming
  • Astralis
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • SK Gaming
  • Team Liquid
  • Grayhound
  • Space Soldiers
  • Renegades

Both groups will be played in a GSL format (double-elimination bracket). The initial matches will be Bo1. All the other matches will be Bo3. The winner of each group qualifies for the Semifinals. The 2nd and 3rd best teams from each group qualify for the Quarterfinals.

The Playoffs will be played in a single-elimination bracket format. All of its matches will be Bo3, with the exception of the Grand Final (Bo5).

Prize pool distribution

The $750,000 prize pool will be shared among the 16 teams in the following way:

  • 1st place: $250,000
  • 2nd place: $110,000
  • 3rd – 4th place: $55,000
  • 5th – 6th place: $32,000
  • 7th – 8th place: $24,000
  • 9th – 12th place: $22,000
  • 13th – 16th place: $20,000

Top teams

Natus Vincere

Natus Vincere has had three top 4 finishes this year, having placed 3rd – 4th at the ELEAGUE Major and also having played in two Grand Finals: at StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4 and at DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018. Na’Vi lost both of these Grand Finals (one against mousesports and one against Astralis) but still remains one of the best teams in the world (top 5 for sure).

Na’Vi’s main weakness is also it’s most important strength: s1mple. This player is without a doubt the most skilled in the world right now and in the best shape of his career. As long as s1mple keeps on playing the way he’s played this year, Na’Vi will continue to get top placements in spite of having many weaknesses and several average players as a team.

Going into this tournament, I expect Na’Vi to qualify for the Playoffs. It’s not clear yet whether or not the CIS team can make it to the Semifinals or even the Grand Final, but s1mple’s form will be decisive in whatever they achieve.

Astralis

In spite of losing to FaZe Clan in the Grand Final of Intel Extreme Masters Sydney, Astralis is still the strongest team in the world right now and its performance over the last few months clearly proves it: a 2nd place finish at IEM Sydney, a 1st place finish at DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 and a 3rd – 4th place finish at IEM XII World Championship.

Going into this event, Astralis is the team with the highest chance of claiming the trophy.

FaZe Clan

After around 2 months of weaker results, FaZe Clan struck back at the recent IEM Sydney tournament, defeating Astralis in the Grand Final and claiming the title. It was a shocking result for everyone, not least because FaZe Clan did it without dropping a single map, but it showed that you should never discard this team in the fierce battle for trophies, no matter how overpowered its opponent may seem.

With this latest tournament title, FaZe Clan proved that Xizt has been successfully integrated in its lineup and that the team is now playing at maximum capacity again. It wasn’t easy for FaZe to get over olofmeister’s loss, but it looks like things have finally worked out for them.

For me, FaZe Clan is the second strongest team at ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals. I wouldn’t count of it to win the entire event, but it certainly has all the right ingredients to make it at least to the Semifinals.

Team Liquid

After the acquisition of NAF and TACO, Team Liquid finally got a world class roster that can compete with any opponent. However, the results haven’t been great in the last 2 months, simply because the team needs more time to fully integrate its newest members and achieve perfect fluency in all of its strategies. The potential to get top placements is definitely there, but we’ll have to see if Team Liquid has managed to train enough to remove all of its internal gameplay problems.

So far this season, Team Liquid got 3 top 4 finishes. The team won cs_summit 2, placed 3rd at StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4 and then 3rd – 4th at IEM XII World Championship.

Going into ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals, Team Liquid should qualify for the Playoffs. Especially because it has an easy road through the brackets in Group B, as long as it can win against much weaker opponents.

mousesports

Mousesports is a top 4 team in CS:GO right now and has had an exceptional season so far. The team won StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4, V4 Future Sports Festival Budapest 2018, as well as the regional stage of ESL Pro League Season 7, qualifying for this LAN event by placing first in the European region (18 W – 8 L). At the latest tournament it participated in (IEM XIII Sydney), mousesports placed 4th, after losing to a formidable Astralis in the Semifinals (score 1 – 2).

Overall, mousesports is playing great CS right now and has a big advantage over most of the teams present at this event: they haven’t had a roster change in over 9 months. This gives them excellent cohesion and a wide array of tactics and strategies.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

After replacing Xizt with dennis and THREAT with pita (new coach), NiP regained much of its former strength and started to play like a tier 1 team again. Of course, there’s still a long way to go until we can expect NiP to win a big trophy, but the team has what it takes to get deep runs in tournaments like this one.

In 2018, Ninjas in Pyjamas got 4 top 8 finishes: at cs_summit 2, Intel Extreme Masters XII World Championship, DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 and Esports Championship Series Season 5 Europe.

Going into ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals, NiP has a very good chance of qualifying for the Playoffs, as long as it can beat of its main group rivals, SK Gaming.

Betting predictions

Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. SK Gaming

This is by far the most unpredictable match of the 8 that were mentioned and that’s because it’s not yet clear how strong SK Gaming is. The team hasn’t looked great after its recent roster change, but since coldzera became the new in-game leader things have started to shift a little bit in its favor. SK’s last two matches against Team Liquid (both Bo1) ended with 2 victories in its favor.

On the other hand, NiP is a very strong team right now so I don’t really think that SK has what it takes to win this match. The Brazilians still need a lot of practice to integrate Stewie2K into their lineup.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at -115 / -110 or around 1.87 – 1.91 in favor of NiP, which is much more likely to win at this point.

Final betting prediction: Ninjas in Pyjamas to win.

FaZe Clan vs. Cloud9

FaZe Clan is much stronger than Cloud9 at this point, so it should have no problem winning this match. Last time these two teams met (in the Group Stage of Intel Extreme Masters XIII Sydney), FaZe Clan won pretty decisively with a score of 2 – 0.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at -225 / +175 or around 1.44 – 2.75 in favor of FaZe Clan, giving Cloud9 quite a bit of respect but still anticipating a clear victory for the Europeans.

Final betting prediction: FaZe Clan to win.

NRG Esports vs. Heroic

Heroic has been on a steep decline lately, while NRG Esports has been on the rise. This contrast has led everyone to believe that NRG is the slight favorite in this dispute, although not by much.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at -170 / +130 or around 1.59 – 2.30 in favor of NRG Esports and at these odds, a bet on a victory in their favor is definitely worthwhile.

Final betting prediction: NRG Esports to win.

Natus Vincere vs. MVP PK

MVP PK has had some pretty good results recently, winning the CS:GO Asia Summit event and placing 9th – 12th at IEM XIII Sydney. Still, the team is at least 1 tier below Na’Vi, so I can’t imagine the CIS team losing this battle.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at -475 / +350 or around 1.21 – 4.50 in favor of Natus Vincere and its assessment is absolutely correct.

Final betting prediction: Natus Vincere to win.

mousesports vs. Sharks Esports

Given the massive skill and experience difference between these two teams, anything except a crushing victory in favor of mousesports would be a huge upset. Personally, I don’t think that Sharks Esports can take more than 10 rounds off mousesports in this match, so even if you bet on the Europeans using a -4.5 or even -5.5 rounds handicap option you should still be perfectly fine.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at -700 / +450 or around 1.14 – 5.50 in favor of mousesports, and this is practically free money to be made.

Final betting prediction: mousesports to win.

Team Liquid vs. Grayhound

In spite of not performing at its full potential and having problems against the strongest teams in the world, Team Liquid is still way better than Grayhound and should easily win this dispute without dropping more than 8-10 maps.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at -325 / +260 or around 1.31 – 3.60, giving Grayhound way too much respect for that victory against SK Gaming from IEM XIII Sydney.

Final betting prediction: Team Liquid to win.

Space Soldiers vs. Renegades

This should be a close match all things considered but based on Space Soldiers’ poor recent form and Renegades’ exceptional recent form, Renegades should win in the end. If Nifty can play half as well as he did at IEM XIII Sydney, his team will completely crush Space Soldiers in this battle.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at +105 / -130 or around 2.05 – 1.77, anticipating a close fight. I myself don’t think that will be the case, as the Australians look much stronger at this point.

Final betting prediction: Renegades to win.

OpTic Gaming vs. Astralis

There is absolutely no chance for OpTic Gaming to upset the strongest team in the world, so I really don’t agree with the odds here. They’re way too high on Astralis’ side.

Bovada puts the odds for this match at +270 / -335 or around 3.70 – 1.30, making it one of the best betting opportunities on this list.

Final betting prediction: Astralis to win.

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