Sixteen teams from all over the world are set to take the stage as it’s time for the ESL Pro League Season 9 finals
Sixteen teams from all over the world are set to take the stage as it’s time for the ESL Pro League Season 9 finals. The pressure will be on for Astralis who are coming off yet another poor showing at the ECS finals earlier in the month. Will Astralis redeem themselves and retain their title or will see a different winner this time around?
The regular season of ESL Pro League has concluded and it’s time for the finals in Montpellier, France. Sixteen teams have qualified, eight of whom are from Europe, six from the Americas, one from Asia and one from Oceania.
The winner of this competition will have to earn it as the format is tough, something which we have grown accustomed to at ESL events. There will be two double-elimination groups (GSL) with the initial matches being best-of-one and the remainder being best-of-three. Each group has eight teams in total, three of whom will qualify for the playoffs.
The group winner will advance directly to the semi-finals whereas the second and third-place teams will advance to the quarters. The team finishing their group in second place will get the benefit of having the higher seed.
The big storyline going into this year’s finals will be about last year’s winner, Astralis. The Danes have now failed to win three consecutive tournaments in a year of inactivity where they have chosen to prioritize Blast Pro Series, a tournament organized by their owner, RFRSH. As a result, Astralis have received a fair amount of backlash and it seems as if the inactivity combined with the pressure has now gotten to them as they went out in the group stages for the first time in the history of this lineup at the ECS finals.
Skrilla will be running plenty of fantasy contests for the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals so I decided to give you some of my top picks for the tournament. In fantasy, you’re generally going to want to go for players who have the potential to carry for their team. As such, I’ve decided to run the numbers and look for players who have outperformed their own teammates in fantasy scoring by a large margin for their respective teams. Generally, these are going to be your regular suspects, but as you can see there are a couple of interesting names here that have turned it up a notch in recent times.
As you can see, Astralis players are absent from this list despite being the odds on favorite to win the event. This is because most of the Astralis players contribute at a similar level for the team statistically. The difference between the lowest scoring player on Astralis (gla1ve) and the highest scoring player (Magisk) just isn’t big enough to warrant paying a premium price for any of the heavy hitters on Astralis over a player like coldzera who consistently scores far more points than his team’s average.
As such, I would recommend building around the heavy hitters on teams that rely on 1–2 individuals and then pick Astralis players accordingly using the remainder of your salary, even if that means having to pick Xyp9x or gla1ve. This is of course if you believe that Astralis will bounce back after the poor performances that they have had recently.
There might not be a lot of chatter about coldzera right now from fans and pundits alike, but that mostly has to do with the performance of the team rather than the player. MIBR have been outright terrible since they reunited with felps and TACO earlier in the year. However, it’s not due to the performance of coldzera who continues to put up big numbers for the team. On average, coldzera scores around ~29% more points/map than his team’s average and ~22% more points/map than fer who is the second-best performer on the team.
valde used to be the top dog on North, but it has been Kjaerbye who has stepped up to the plate after valde picked up the IGL role for the team. The former Astralis player has scored ~19% more points/map than his teammates average and ~16% more points/map than valde. Kjaerbye has now been at the top of the board for his team at both DreamHack Masters Dallas and the ECS finals and he will hope to make it three in a row with another good performance at the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals
Much like North, NRG are a stacked team in terms of individual skill. Despite this, Brehze has really turned it up a notch since tarik joined the roster. The American rifler has scored ~20% more points/map than his teammates average and ~12% more points/map than Ethan who is the team’s second best player in terms of fantasy scoring.
rain was incredible back in 2017 but he followed that up with a mediocre year in 2018. However, it is starting to look as if the Norwegian is returning to form with some good showings in 2019. rain played a big part in the dismantling of Liquid in the finals of Blast Pro Series Miami and he followed that up with a very stable performance at DreamHack Masters Dallas.
rain may be a volatile player and NiKo will likely always be the safer pick. However, the potential upside with rain is big. He is an excellent aimer with a high headshot accuracy and he will always score you plenty of points for headshots and assists due to his prowess as an entry on t-side. The sample size might be small, but since NEO took over the reign in FaZe rain has scored ~38% more fantasy points/map than his teams average, as well as 16% more points/map than olofmeister and 28% more than NiKo.
As a side note, it appears as if NiKo has turned his aggression up a few notches after being freed from the IGL role. As of now, it seems as if this has hurt his production rather than improve it. I doubt that this will continue but it is worth noting nonetheless.
Twistzz has been outstanding for Liquid so far in 2019. At first, I was worried that his fantasy production would be hampered with the introduction of Stewie2k to the roster, as Twistzz was forced into more of a dedicated anchor role on maps like Mirage and Overpass. However, it seems as the transition has been smooth. Twistzz has plenty of competition on Liquid with players like EliGE and NAF on the roster, however, he has still managed to score ~24% more points/game than his teams average. As well as ~7% more points than EliGE despite the latter coming off an MVP performance at DreamHack Masters Dallas. Twistzz’s high headshot accuracy combined with a very high K/D ratio makes him an excellent pick in fantasy and one of my personal favorites.
Astralis are the odds on favorite to win again despite dropping out of groups to FURIA at the ECS finals. They have gotten a pretty easy side of the bracket due to their high seeding which includes a struggling Cloud9, Heroic and the lowest ranked team in the event, DETONA Gaming. They really shouldn’t have too much of a problem of making playoffs here, however, it definitely isn’t very tempting to bet them at such a short number now when their unbeatable aura is gone. Instead, I would favor Liquid at the longer number.
Realistically this should be a two horse race and the tough format should ensure that one of the top teams come out on top. However, with Astralis struggling there is a chance that we could see yet another upset win, especially considering Liquid’s tendency to drop the ball in the finals at times. In terms of underdogs, I like mousesports, fnatic, North and G2. Normally I’d be big on NRG but with daps having to stand-in despite having just left the team I’m not sure if they will be there mentally for this tournament. MIBR just haven’t shown anything worthy of note since they made the semi-finals at the major and I’d much rather take a stab at the middle of the board at longer odds.