CS:GO’s premier league competition is in full swing, bringing together all of the world’s finest orgs and professionals for the honor of winning one of the most prestigious trophies outside of the official Majors. With betting on ESL Pro League becoming more and more popular amongst fans, here are three sides you should consider backing.
Before a single round of the competition kicked off, few sides were dismissed by experts and fans alike than ENCE. Ever since their miraculous run to the grand final of the 2019 IEM Katowice Major, the Finnish organization has been plagued by controversies outside of the server that has seen their stock absolutely plummet off of a cliff. From the removal of in-game leader Alexsib to the most recent roster reshuffling, ENCE has gone from one of the world’s most elite organizations to a side that arrived at ESL Pro League way outside the top thirty in the world rankings and only qualifying for the group stages thanks to their standing as a founding member of the competition.
For the first time in their history, ENCE has ditched their all-Finnish lineup policy in favor of an international roster with a mixture of experience from the likes of Snappi and Allu, with the raw talent of unproven individuals such as Spinx and Dycha.
Despite being heavy outsiders for a playoff place in Group B, arguably the most stacked group in terms of competitiveness in the entire tournament, ENCE managed to secure three wins against Mousesports and (more importantly) G2 Esports and Team Vitality, the third-best team in the world, to book their passage into the playoffs.
The online era of CS:GO over the past year has brought with it countless upsets, so don’t bet against ENCE being one of the dark horses at Pro League and go on a run that upsets a few of the more established sides at the event.
At the time of writing, Heroic is the only side present at Pro League with a perfect 5-0 record. The introduction of the online era over the course of 2020 brought with it an emergence of talents right across the Counter-Strike community, however, few have looked more like sticking around with the heaviest hitters in the game than the Danes of Heroic.
Whilst the organization has boasted a long history of bringing through some serious talents such as Gla1ve, BlameF, Snappi and Valde, the winners of last year’s ESL One Cologne, made a serious statement of intent earlier this year when they made the decision to bench Borup and Niko. Two of the figures who had been instrumental in the Danes’ rise up the Esports betting odds, Heroic’s brutal benching of the duo led to the acquisition of Sjuush and Refrezh from fellow Danish org MAD Lions, though the results have (so far) spoken for themselves.
FunPlus Phoenix, Complexity Gaming, OG, Renegades and BIG were all put to the sword in a convincing fashion as Heroic set the pace as the team to beat at ESL Pro League Season XIII.
Of course no conversation around backing a side to win a major Counter-Strike tournament would be complete without mentioning the Danes of Astralis, still one of the world’s most prestigious and successful Esports organisations ever assembled.
Another Danish org, Astralis are CS:GO’s most successful ever side with a grand total of four Major Championship wins, including the last three in a row, as well as countless other S-Tier triumphs ever since the core began hitting their peak in 2017. Astralis’ current active five man roster have made more money from earnings and prize pools than any other professional player past or present, showcasing just how dominant the side have been in recent years.
The online era so far hasn’t been as successful for Astralis as their days on LAN in front of their thousands of fans, but there’s no denying that, when the stakes are truly raised, the Danes are still a side you would fancy over most others in the world. Their triumph at the IEM Global Challenge in December has helped keep them at the summit of the world rankings, and whilst their run at IEM Katowice and the BLAST Spring Groups so far this year have been far from convincing, the very format of Pro League’s group stage brackets means class and quality always end up prevailing.
Astralis also have the luxury of pointing to recent experience being on their side, winning the previous edition of ESL Pro League in the second part of 2020 with a 3-2 win over Natus Vincere.