On May 15, the Verizon Theatre in Dallas will host the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals. This CS:GO tournament is the culmination of the ESL Pro League and will feature 16 teams battling it out for the lion’s share of a $750,000 prize pool.
Let’s now preview the tournament and take a look at which teams are most likely to come out on top.
ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals – Fact Pack
- Series – ESL Pro League & Intel Grand Slam
- Sponsors – Intel, MSI, Betway, XFINITY, paysafecard, Logitech G, Mountain Dew league, ESEA, Facebook
- Location – Dallas, Texas
- Venue – Verizon Theatre
- Prize Pool – $750,000
- Starts – May 15
- Ends – May 20
Prize Pool Division
- 1st Place – $250,000
- 2nd Place – $110,000
- 3rd & 4th – $55,000 each
- 5th & 6th – $32,000 each
- 7th & 8th – $24,000 each
- 9th to 12th – $22,000 each
- 13th to 16th – $20,000 each
The 16 qualifiers feature seven teams from European qualification, six from North American qualification, two teams from Asia-Pacific qualification, and just one from South America.
- European Qualifiers – 1. Mousesports, 2. Ninjas in Pyjamas, 3. Natus Vincere, 4. FaZe Clan, 5. Space Soldiers, 6. Astralis, 7. HellRaisers
- North American Qualifiers – 1. Team Liquid, 2. NRG Esports, 3. OpTic Gaming, 4. Cloud9, 5. Renegades, 6. SK Gaming
- Asia-Pacific Qualifiers – 1. MVP PK, 2. Grayhound Gaming
- South American Qualifiers – 1. Sharks Esports
- The Group Stage opens the tournament and takes place from May 14-16.
- Each group comprises of eight teams with seeding based on Online League Placements.
- The opening match in each group is a best-of-one game, with all the following matches as best-of-three.
- The top three teams in each group qualify for the playoffs.
- The group winners progress directly into the semifinals.
- The group runners-up advance as the High Seeds into the quarterfinals.
- The third-place team in the group advance as the Low Seeds into the quarterfinals.
- The playoffs are a single elimination tournament over a best-of-three format, apart from the final which is a best-of-five game.
- Mousesports v Shark Esports
- FaZe Clan v Cloud9
- NRG Esports v HellRaisers
- Natus Vincere v MVP PK
- Team Liquid v Grayhound Gaming
- Space Soldiers v Renegades
- OpTic Gaming v Astralis
- Ninjas in Pyjamas v SK Gaming
In addition to the tournament, two teams will contest a special showmatch on the day of the final, May 20. The squads are Java Gaming Café and CSL Texas, the gaming squad of Texas A&M University.
Analysis of American teams
After some supremely competitive qualifiers, which saw some established teams only just make it into the finals, it promises to be an exciting five days of action in Dallas.
Of the North American qualifiers, Team Secret look the best equipped to thrive after a stellar qualifying campaign saw them win their tournament with a superb 20-2 record. Cloud9, OpTic Gaming, Renegades, and SK Gaming are the experienced CS:GO teams that should represent the home nation well.
The real intrigue for American fans is how the emerging NRG Esports will perform. This team does not have a history of top performance in Major and Premiere events. But they qualified in second place in the American qualifiers and were one of just two teams to defeat Team Secret in the qualifying campaign.
Europe has a strong representation, which shows how healthy the CS:GO esports scene is across the continent at the moment. While the seeding from the qualifiers is something of a surprise, with mousesports and Ninjas in Pyjamas earning the top two berths, the quality of teams like FaZe Clan and Astralis will likely ensure a strong showing.
Indeed, it is quite possible neither of these teams showed any concern about their seeding. They knew simply making it into the finals as one of the top seven finishers in Europe was enough.
The three qualifiers from Asia-Pacific and South America are unlikely to feature heavily in the betting. Of that trio, MVP PK may have the best chance of springing an upset and progressing into the playoffs.
The fact that the group stage isn’t a round-robin tournament, but rather a double-bracket knockout event, does give these lesser teams a chance to cause an upset. However, when games revert to best-of-three, the better sides tend to come to the fore.
What do the bookies think?
The strength of the North American and European representatives compared to that of the three other teams is clear when you view the odds on Betway.
Outright Winner market
- Astralis & FaZe Clan – 7/2 joint favourites
- Mousesports & SK Gaming – 11/2
- Natus Vincere – 6/1
- Cloud9 – 7/1
- Team Liquid – 10/1
- Ninjas in Pyjamas – 12/1
- OpTic Gaming – 20/1
- NRG Esports – 33/1
- HellRaisers, Renegades, Space Soldiers – 50/1
- Grayhound Gaming, MVP PK – 100/1
- Sharks Esports – 150/1
As is clear from the odds, the seedings don’t really have much relevance. The two top seeds from North America and Europe, Team Liquid and mousesports, are not among the favorites.
Indeed, the bookies feel two teams from Europe have better chances of winning than mousesports, while two from America stand a better chance than their current top seeds.
The three teams from Asia-Pacific and South America are all ranked at 100/1 or longer to win the event. This shows the different levels of class between these emerging qualification groups and the hotbed of CS:GO talent in Europe and North America.
Our tip to win
Since winning the ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018, Cloud9 have not performed at their best. Yet after several poor finishes by their high standards, I am expecting them to do better on home soil. I think they are a good Each Way selection at 7/1 with Betway.