Everything is in place for the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals to be an absolute showdown.
ESL Pro League’s Season 10 Finals start December 3, and there’s more Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to unpack here then fans have seen in a while.
The ECS S8 finals were a great primer, but the ESL Pro League Finals are literally double the size. Sixteen teams will duke it out in Odense over five days for their share of a $600,000 prize pool.
But it’s not just about the money.
With a first-place finish, the winner either throws their name into the ring or takes a one-tournament lead for Season 3 of the Intel Grand Slam. On top of both the massive prize pool and a chance at the Intel Grand Slam, the placing first locks down a spot at one of the best CS tournaments of the year, IEM Katowice 2020.
The EPL finals group stage starts December 2 and runs through December 5. Playoffs begin on December 6 and conclude with a best-of-five grand final on December 8.
ESL will use a group stage format consisting of two traditional double-elimination groups for the Season 10 Finals. In order to determine seedings, ESL has used the final standings of each team from their regular season placements
The first set of matches in each group are best-of-ones, meaning that December 3 will only see best-of-one sets played. For the remaining 20-plus games, teams will face off against one another in traditional best-of-threes.
At the conclusion of the first stage, ESL will reseed the top three teams from each group before they advance to the playoffs. A team’s new seed depends on their placement and record at the end of the ESL Pro League Finals group stage.
The playoff reseeding is straightforward. The top team in each group earns a bye and advances directly to the semifinals, skipping what will surely be a dangerous quarterfinal stage. Group runners-up receive the high quarterfinal seeds, while third-place teams enter the quarterfinals as the lower seeds.
This year’s ESL Pro League Finals groups are so stacked with talent that it’s difficult to tell which one will prove the more difficult of the two. At first glance, any group with both Astralis and TL in it seems like a group of death.
In reality, Group A might turn out to be a more intense fight for the top. Even with Na`Vi, EG, and Fnatic all favorites to make the top three, fans shouldn’t count out 100T by any means. Throw in some of TYLOO’s classic international tournament upsets and Sharks Esports’ recent narrow loss to Astralis, and Group A starts to look like a legitimate nightmare for the favorites instead of the underdogs.
ESL will broadcast two games at the same time during the group stages of the Pro League Finals. Group A gets EPL’s Season 10 finals started with an intriguing matchup between Natus Vincere and TYLOO and another between FaZe Clan and MIBR.
Group A Day 1 ESL Pro League Matches
It’s important for Na`Vi to avoid falling into the TYLOO trap. Even as the best team in the Asian region, TYLOO isn’t as good a team as Na`Vi. While they may not have Na`Vi’s raw firepower, they’re an unknown quality for most European and American teams. If Na`Vi underestimates TYLOO, they’ll start the group stage with a loss they may not recover from.
In what looks like it might be one of the more interesting matches of Day 1, FaZe and MIBR will go head to head in a battle between two teams that are still figuring out who they are after roster turnover. Although both have shown improvement in the past month, this is one of the 50/50 games of the day. It all depends on which team has more players show up on the scoreboard.
MIBR looked much better at ECS than many thought, but FaZe has looked like a new team in the past month as well. This is one to watch closely.
It’s a pity that Heroic nabbed a higher seed in this matchup because 100 Thieves is clearly the better team. A tough regular season group set 100T back, but this game should be a fairly clean one for the Aussies.
Heroic isn’t a bad team by any means, but they can’t compare to how 100 Thieves has played over the past two months. 100T is the safe pick, but if the Thieves start slow Heroic is just competent enough to capitalize.
In a rematch of the ECS Season 8 semifinal, the final Group A match up should be its most exciting. When these teams met last weekend, Fnatic claimed impressive wins on Inferno and Overpass and barely lost out on Nuke. Evil Geniuses will still prove a tough out in this match between top-five teams.
Group B Day 1 Matchups
Astralis made the mistake of underestimating Sharks Esports at the ECS Finals last week, so fans will hope that they won’t make the same mistake twice. With that out of the way, Astralis looked like they were in 2018 in the grand final against Team Liquid. The Dane’s current tactical and mechanical prowess should worry every other team at the tournament, but especially Grayhound Gaming on day one.
This matchup is much more difficult for G2 in reality than it is on paper. The Sharks made it to both the ECS and EPL Finals for a reason, and their near upset of Astralis on Nuke at ECS put everyone on notice. If G2 can somehow play like a team other than G2, they have a fairly decent chance to put away Sharks Esports.
ATK’s surprise run to the EPL Season 10 Finals shocked many and proved that the young team has serious potential. That said, Finn “karrigan” Andersen is going to let Robin “ropz” Kool off the leash on Tuesday. ATK runs the typical North American aggressive setup on both sides of the bomb, and karrigan should have a game plan prepared.
If ATK can somehow get off to an early lead and keep up the pressure on mouz, then they’ll have a chance to sneak away with a best-of-one win.
This matchup has “trap game” written all over it for Team Liquid. After a hard-fought loss against Astralis in the ECS Season 8 Grand Finals, the team missed their flight to Odense and is now scheduled to arrive only an hour and a half before their match according to a tweet from Jake “Stewie2K” Yip.
Liquid would wipe the floor with North on most days, but after two days of heartbreak and stressful travel, TL might not be able to put up a fight against a North team that has lost 1-2 to Tricked and 0-2 to Copenhagen Flames in the past two months.
Team Liquid should have the mental fortitude to pull through and get the win in the best-of-one. But if there ever was a game where TL would throw in the towel, this would be it.
Just like every year, ESL has pulled together a wide range of entertaining and experienced talent to do all the heavy lifting while the players are busy on the servers.
OJ Borg returns to work the stage, while Tres “Stunna” Saranthus hosts the desk alongside Chad “SPUNJ” Burchill, Jacob “Pimp” Winneche, and David “DAVEY” Stafford.
The fan-favorite duo of Henry “HenryG” Greer and Alex “Machine” Richardson reunite as the casters on one of the Pro League Final’s two streams, while the other features Hugo “Hugo” Byron and Harry “JustHarry” Russell as they walk viewers through the other set of games.
Finally, James Banks will take over the content host duties after working the sidelines at ESL Pro League Season 9.
Fans can find the entire ESL Pro League Season 10 schedule right here on WIN.gg.