The ESL Pro League returns on March 16th with its eleventh season, the first edition in the competition’s history to bundle all twenty-four sides in one bracket which promises to increase the hype, competitiveness, and excitement of the event. The outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 disease have changed the format of the event from offline in Malta to online across the world, but the competition should still be fierce with the meta so diversely split amongst the best teams hopefully making for a great tournament.
Here’s our take on the picks to watch out for as the action unfolds at ESL Pro League later this month.
They might have lost their status as the world’s number one rated CS: GO side, however, Astralis rarely enter a tournament without being nestled in amongst the favorites. The Danish side is still immensely respected in the scene, possess potential game-changers right across their roster, and has the experience in winning countless S-Tier events to point to on top of that. They are in Group A of the Pro League and will come up against ENCE, Godsent, NiP, Sharks, and Team Vitality, none of which should give Astralis too much to worry about.
NA’VI is arguably the game’s most in-form side heading into the Pro League having stormed past Astralis and G2 to scoop up the crown at Katowice earlier this month. The likes of S1mple, Boombl4, and Electronic all possess the ability to win a collection of rounds on their own and it appears that the Russian/Ukrainian side has put their constant bickering to the side for the time being.
Whilst Astralis and NA’VI might be the most destructive rosters in the game currently, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a side more consistent over recent times than Fnatic. The Swedes have top four in their past five events and have arguably the perfect blend of youth and experience in talisman Brollan and the legendary Flusha. They do arrive at ESL with the biggest gap in competitive play, however, having missed out on the recent BLAST series and could be a little bit less sharp than the other teams around them.
Another former number one, you would say that Team Liquid is still North America’s best hope of challenging for silverware at the Pro League. Arriving at last year’s StarLadder Berlin Major ranked number one in the world after romping to the quickest Intel Grand Slam in CS: GO history, it’s shocking to see how much Liquid has dropped in recent times. There’s no doubting their talent, however, and, if they’re able to bring Stewie2k back into form, they could be a serious contender again.
French side G2 has been the surprise package of Counter-Strike so far this year, going on a near-faultless run throughout the majority of IEM Katowice and rising to fifth in the world in the latest rankings. The likes of Kenny and JackZ won some seriously clutch rounds on their own at Katowice, though it’s clear that G2 won’t have the luxury of being taken as lightly at the ESL Pro League as they were in Poland.
Who Are We Backing?
Competitive Counter-Strike has arguably never been more volatile and as wide open as it is right now, which can only be a good thing for fans of the ESL Pro League. Astralis, NA’VI, and G2 will all be favorites amongst esports betting markets because of their recent performances at Katowice, however, we wouldn’t bet against Fnatic going out and producing another solid display here. If they can work out a way of being less reliant on their players’ skills and adapt to the pace of the other teams around them, we could see them going all the way here.