We break down three of today's matches in ESL Pro League, including a classic Scandinavian matchup between Astralis and NiP.
I think few would have imagined that FaZe would be coming in as the underdog against Spirit at the start of the year, but here we are. FaZe have lost all four of their games so far in ESL Pro League, without winning a single map. The Kjaerbye experiment hasn’t worked out whatsoever, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they are already considering making changes. If I was FaZe, I would be eyeing up FalleN who was recently dropped by MIBR, giving them a proper in-game leader and a main AWPer - two birds in one stone so to speak.
Meanwhile, Spirit are looking good, taking down NiP in a three map series last Friday. The last time FaZe and Spirit squared off was in DreamHack Masters Spring back in May, a game which FaZe won after wins in overtime on both Dust2 and Nuke. However, Spirit likely would have won that series if it wasn’t for the fact that Mir disconnected in OT on Dust2 due to a power outage and had to be replaced by a stand-in for the remainder of the game.
It is worth noting that FaZe will have the advantage of choosing who picks first in the veto as the higher ranked side. Since both teams perma-ban Vertigo, FaZe may actually decide to ban first here in order to get rid of a map like Nuke which has been a terrible map for them recently. Regardless, Spirit does have a deep enough map pool that this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for them. With FaZe sitting at the bottom of ESL Pro League with zero wins, it is questionable if they even have the motivation required to win against a Spirit side that will see this match as an ample opportunity to get back into playoff contention.
Vitality Map 2 (1.57)
Vitality and fnatic are currently tied with Spirit and mousesports at six points apiece. The two have faced off twice so far in 2020, with Vitality coming out on top on both occasions. Vitality have proven to be a hard nut to crack for fnatic, and it mostly comes down to the fact that Vitality are a strong Nuke and Dust2 team, which just so happens to be fnatic’s weakest maps in the pool. It wouldn’t be surprising if fnatic pulls a rabbit out of their hat and wins this series over the course of three maps, but Vitality’s advantage on their map choice is hard to ignore.
NiP Map 2 (2.20)
NiP are coming in as the underdog here against Astralis, despite getting the better of them for the majority of the year. The Ninjas have beaten Astralis in four out of five meetings so far this year, three of which were BO3s. However, it is worth noting that Astralis played two of those games with JUGi and Snappi. In their last match, NiP decided to float Dust2 and ban Nuke, which forced Astralis into picking Inferno. This worked out well for NiP, as they swept the series after winning both Train and Inferno. Train has been their map choice in their last two series against Astralis, and they won both times. Astralis have been very solid with gla1ve and es3tag, but NiP are definitely a live underdog in this match at plus-money.