CS:GO’s premier league competition has undergone a complete transformation in preparation for its ninth season, massively boosting its prestige and importance going forward. The ESL-sponsored tournament will move into an offline environment (for the European and American teams at least), ensuring it’s not just an afterthought for the participants between two LAN events.
This change will also sort out the many scheduling nightmares related to online-only competitions, and an incredibly robust format will guarantee that only the best of the best will make it to the finals.
What Is The ESL Pro League In CS:GO
The ESL Pro League has been a mainstay of CS:GO competition since 2015, featuring massive prize pools and a grueling offline group stage leading to a high-profile LAN final. Its format was a constant subject to change and the number of participants steadily increased alongside the payouts, but the game-breaking change has only just been realized as we enter Season 9: for the European and American division, the online group stage has been done away with in its entirety, with a double group-stage LAN format taking its place.
This means the matches are no longer treated as afterthoughts sandwiched between other offline events whenever the scheduling allows: in one fell swoop, they’ve become the same high-profile barnburners we’re used to at other LAN events, which is always great for us the fans!
ESL Pro League Competition Format
The group stage of the ESL Pro League has an incredibly robust and skill-testing format: not only are there best-of-three matches all the way, but there are also two separate group stages, each with a full round-robin format. Not only that, but the initial ones are also seeded based on ESL’s own rankings, further reducing the randomness.
North America ESL Pro League Region
Both in Europe and North America, the first round will feature four different four-team groups, the winner of which directly qualifies for the eventual finals set to take place between June 18th and the 23rd. The second- and third-placed finishers proceed to the second group stage – meaning only one team gets eliminated from each at the first time of asking –, where they’ll be separated into two four-team groups, still best-of-three round-robin.
Europe ESL Pro League Region
Europe was allocated eight slots overall, meaning the top two from the second group stage qualify – for the Americas, there are only six slots for the taking, which means that only the winners will make it to the finals in the second group stage as well. It’s important to note that the Americas bracket will feature a dedicated Latin America group in the first round, guaranteeing the qualification of one of these lesser-known sides to the eventual finals and ensuring that two more will get a chance in the second round.
Asia-Pacific ESL Pro League
The Asia-Pacific region is a bit of a red-headed stepchild for this one – though perhaps understandably, considering the historical strength and international accomplishments (or lack thereof) of the teams hailing from here. The base format is similar, though their games will continue to be played online, and there’s no direct qualification from the first round: since there are only two spots for the taking overall, the top two from each four groups – separated into Oceania and Asia categories – will make it to the second round, where the winner of each four-team group will move on to the final.
Match Odds During ESL Pro League Season 9
ESL Pro League Best Teams To Bet On And Follow
Will Astralis defend their title? – It goes without saying that the Danes go into every CS:GO event as the favorites nowadays, especially considering the fact that they’ve already conquered this tournament at the last time of asking. The robust seeding system means the potential for an upset in the first round is close to minimal – not that the other top teams can challenge them on a consistent basis –, which likely means that the world’s best team will fast-track its way to the global finals at the first time of asking.
The Battle For Chinese Supremacy
For a long time, TyLoo was the only Chinese team on the international community’s radar, playing a uniquely aggressive style and occasionally pulling off an upset or two, an exciting, if not exactly top-tier proposition. Their main rival in Asia was Renegades as they regularly took the top two spots in any regional qualifier. Now that the Aussies made the quantum leap towards mainstream contention, new opportunities opened up in the region.
So far, the most exciting prospect has to be ViCi Gaming with their successful qualification to the Katowice major and valiant showings at StarSeries Season 7 in Shanghai. At this point, TyLoo’s performances have decayed to the point that they may not even be China’s top team much longer – the Asian portion of the ESL Pro League Season 9 group stages should give us a good idea about the lay of the land in the thousand-year-old empire.
ENCE’s High Level Play
If not for ENCE’s incredible performances, the main story of CS:GO would be the rise of Renegades: the Australian side has entered the top 5 worldwide for the first time in the organization’s history and had displayed very impressive skills both at the major and in Shanghai. Facing fellow StarSeries semi-finalists NRG in North America Group A is going to be a real challenge and a true test of where these two teams are standing.
For the bookies, it’s almost a dead heat: their individual match is priced at -110 for NRG and -120 for RNG (don’t confuse the two!) and they’re both at -125 for winning the group. Don’t be fooled by the recent head-to-head results: both teams have overgone quite the overhaul recently and have very good results to show for their efforts. For what it’s worth, the Aussies at least managed to take a map off of Na’Vi at the business end of the recent tournament, which might just indicate a tiny bit more steel than NRG’s recent showings.
The Top 5 Shuffle Continues In Europe
The Ninjas made it further than NiKo’s men at StarSeries S7 and had a better placing at BLAST Pro Sao Paulo (partly due to an outright victory over the international side). With Heroic and devils.one (the ex-Team Kinguin roster) rounding out the group, the victory will likely come down to the match between these two – we wouldn’t bet on FaZe Clan in their current state. Perhaps in the future, they’ll show better reasons to do so.
The complete collapse of the previous mousesports roster and the continued underperformance of FaZe Clan opened the door for other teams, so much so that the exact same odds offered for their Group B victory alongside Ninjas in Pyjamas’ (+110) seems like an oversight.
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