Season 16 of the ESL Pro League is about to begin, featuring 16 teams from all over the world. The group stage is divided into four single round-robin format groups, each comprising six teams. The winner takes home a grand prize of $175,000, as well as qualifying for the prestigious BLAST World Final 2022, as well as the IEM Katowice in 2023.
Faze Clan won Season 15 in March, en route to their golden trio – the ESL, the IEM and the PGL Majors, all in the space of a few months. Group A – Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Vitality, Fnatic, Team Spirit and End Point – will begin their first round of matches on Thursday.
Natus Vincere v Fnatic
The rampant NA VI take on Fnatic in their first game of the ESL. While NA VI have been brilliant all year through, Fnatic’s newly revamped roster are still finding their feet.
Predictions: Natus Vincere to win
CSGO Odds: 1.17
Betting Site: Odds provided by GG.Bet
When: Thursday, September 01 – 16:00 CEST
Natus Vincere In Sprightly Form
If you think Faze Clan have had a great year, Natus Vincere aren’t far behind. They won the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals in June, then placed 1st-3rd at the Fall Group earlier in August as well.
The only thorn in their flesh in 2022 has been Faze Clan, who’ve been one persistent step ahead of them at every turn, who relegated NA VI to the runners up spot at the PGL Majors and the IEM Cologne. In fact the worst NA VI have placed in 2022 is 5th-8th at season 15 of the ESL Pro League in April (knocked out 0-2 by, of course, FaZe), and still brought home $42,500.
So really, it’s been an exceptional year by anyone’s standards. As far as their roster’s concerned, there was some concern regarding Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s availability ahead of the Blast Fall Groups. Danyyl “headtr1ck” Valitov was promoted from the academy to fill his spot. But s1mple ended up playing after all, and NA VI are at full strength heading into the ESL.
Fnatic Looking Up After Roster Revamp
Fnatic have been in the news lately after their roster revamp. They signed the Danish pair Nico “nicoodoz” Tamjidi and Fredrik “roeJ” Jørgensen as AWPer and entry fragger respectively. 26-year-old rifler Dion ‘FASHR’ Derksen rounded up their roster in August. FASHR brings plenty of experience into the fold, and boasts an impact rating of 1.2 and an overall HLTV rating of 1.19 this year.
They placed first in the Road to Rio 2022: European RMR Open Qualifiers, and are confirmed participants at the European RMR A in Malta. After a troubled phase last season, Fnatic were due for some big changes. The new lineup has tasted a bit of success at the European Qualifiers, but are yet to prove themselves on the global stage.
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Vitality
NIP and Vitality Bee square off in the third and final match of the day. NIP have had a middling year overall by their usual standards, while Vitality Bee’s new addition, Spinx, hasn’t magically changed their fortunes as they’d have hoped.
CSGO Predictions: Team Vitality to win
Betting Site: Odds provided by GG.Bet
When: Thursday, September 01 – 19:30 CEST
Ninjas in Pyjamas In Chaos Around Device Saga
While NIP hasn’t won any major tournaments this year, it has certainly had its moments. In June they won they Global Esports Tour Dubai 2022, bringing home a massive $100,000 prize. They also seeded 3rd-4th last season of the ESL Pro League, as well as the BLAST Premier: Spring European Showdown.
Of course, compared to 2021, this year probably does feel like a bit of a drag. There have been a few reports floating around recently which imply that NIP has offered their star rifler Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz to other CS:GO teams for a transfer.
Dev1ce stepped away from pro play last December after a slump in form, and there’s been no news regarding his return over the past eight months. These reports suggest that both NIP and dev1ce have decided to go in separate directions.
Vitality Have Spinx In Form
Vitality have had their share of ups and downs this year. They started out on a high by winning the BLAST Premier: Spring Groups in February, but they seem to have peaked too early.
There was a lot of anticipation to see how their new signing, Lotan ‘Spinx’ Giladi would turn out, but his addition didn’t bring them much luck in the Blast fall groups. They crashed out in the semi-finals against Vitality, winning Nuke but losing Vertigo and Inferno.
While Spinx was individually brilliant, dealing both most kills and most damage in two maps, he didn’t get much support from the rest. This is something Vitality might have to think about heading into the ESL.