This weekend, the first of nine days at the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018 tournament begins. In Atlanta, Georgia, eight of the best CS:GO teams in the world have been specially invited to this $1 million event.
The winning team will pocket $500,000 of that cash. Then, the runner-up will take home $200,000. Third and fourth earn $80,000 each, with 5th/6th taking home $40,000. Finally, the bottom two teams will each earn $30,000.
The tournament will be played in two phases. The group phase occurs July 21-25. Then, the teams qualifying from this phase will enter the playoffs on July 28-29. This makes the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018 one of the few tournaments which has rest days between the different rounds.
All matches in this stage are best-of-three matches, and the group phase is a double-elimination GSL format. This means it will see the top two teams in each group qualify for the playoffs.
The draws for the groups are as follows:
- Group A – Astralis, Team Liquid, MIBR, Cloud9
- Group B – Natus Vincere, FaZe Clan, mousesports, Fnatic
The opening games in each group will see Astralis take on Cloud9, and Team Liquid face MIBR in Group A. In its counterpart, Natus Vincere face Fnatic, and FaZe Clan take on mousesports.
Roster changes and team news
The big news ahead of this event is that SK Gaming are no more. MIBR signed up their entire roster on June 23.
Mousesports have also made a change in personnel: STYKO left them, and Snax replaced him.
Cloud9 let Tarik leave on July 13. One day later, he signed with MIBR, who allowed boltz to leave in order to facilitate the move. Then, to complete the merry-go-round in personnel, STYKO and Golden will now operate as stand-in players for Cloud9 this tournament.
Current betting odds
- Astralis – 13/10 favourites
- FaZe Clan – 4/1
- Natus Vincere – 5/1
- Team Liquid – 13/2
- MIBR – 15/2
- Mousesports – 10/1
- Fnatic – 12/1
- Cloud9 – 16/1
Given their recent run of form, it is unsurprising to see Astralis and FaZe Clan as the two favourites for the tournament. That said, I am somewhat surprised at how short the odds on Astralis are. I certainly feel they are the strongest team in the tournament, but I don’t think they are quite as strong as 13/10. I can see FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere giving them a real test.
It’s not surprising to see Fnatic and Cloud9 as the outsiders in this event. Although longer shots have won events before in esports, it would be a major upset if either of those teams managed to get through the group phase, let alone win the event.
I think this tournament will be a lot closer than many people are predicting. Natus Vincere at 5/1 are probably a team worth looking at in terms of value, though it may be prudent to back them each way for the tournament.
Previous ELEAGUE event winners
- Jan. 2016 – ELEAGUE Road to Vegas – OpTic Gaming
- July 2016 – ELEAGUE Season 1 – Virtus.pro
- Dec. 2016 – ELEAGUE Season 2 – OpTic Gaming
- Jan. 2017 – ELEAGUE Major Atlanta 2017 – Astralis
- June 2017 – Clash for the Cash – Astralis
- Oct. 2017 – ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 – FaZe Clan
- Jan. 2018 – ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018 – Cloud9
All ELEAGUE events have featured a $1,000,000 prize pool, apart from the Road to Vegas ($50,000) and the Clash for Cash ($250,000).
Overwatch League set to expand … at a price
There’s no doubt the first season of the Overwatch League was a complete success.
Activision Blizzard’s baby for their popular console game was initially embroiled in controversy. A price of $20 million per franchise meant only big business and established teams could afford to become involved in the new league model.
However, that decision now looks like a masterstroke. The company has already announced plans to expand its league by six teams. Speaking to Handelsblatt, Overwatch League President and CEO Pete Vlastelica announced his plans for expansion in May. The league will add two squads from the Americas, two from Asia-Pacific, and two from Europe and the Middle East.
Vlastelica also indicated a Berlin team could come to fruition sometime in 2019.
Further plans for the Overwatch League include decentralizing it from the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles and to eventually have each team playing their home games in home venues. Furthermore, Blizzard has actively sought new media rights deals to bring in additional revenue.
New, new money
However, if you are a CEO thinking of investing your $20 million in one of the new franchises, well that price tag is not up to date. The cost of a new franchise for Overwatch League Season 2 is expected to rise to a minimum to $30 million. Some believe a price of $60 million is more realistic.
Even so, there will be plenty of takers at that price. Basing its model on major American sports — with little regulation on franchises and a lucrative revenue-sharing model — the Overwatch League could pay off some major investments in the long term.
For now, fans have the playoff semifinals to enjoy over the next few weeks. Once the playoffs are finished, we expect more news on how the Overwatch League will expand into Season 2.