ESI Gambling Report: ECS Season 5 Finals Preview

The ECS Season 5 Finals are convening in London this weekend - here's our betting preview ahead of the action.

Eight of the best Counter Strike teams will venture to London this weekend to participate in the Esports Championship Series Season 5 Finals at the SSE Arena Wembley.

The teams are set to square off in a double-elimination gauntlet for their slice of a $660,000 (£491,564) prize pool. Expect to see sparks fly this weekend in London, we’ve got your betting analysis covered in this week’s ESI Gambling Report.

Group A

The degree of talent playing at ECS is lofty, and Group A is just one half of that equation. The group selection process saw the top seeded team (Astralis & NRG) in each division pick a competitor for the opposing group. The circle in the first group should prove to be bloggable contest, let’s have a glance.

Astralis

The Danish powerhouse is perceived by many to be the strongest CS:GO troop playing the game right now; a collection of first place finishes in recent months including the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals and DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 has quickly raised Astralis into an elite prestige amongst competitors.

After recruiting Danish gunman, Emil “Magisk” Reif, onto Astralis as their fifth-player, the team has seen unparalleled success as we’ve seen them raze through top squads in recent outings. The Dane’s velocity coming into London has identified them as the clear favourite to place first at the ECS Finals; barring another squad is somehow able to outclass Astralis at this event, we firmly believe they’ll walk away with the gold.

Betway 1.90 Pinnacle 2.06 Bet365 1.90

 

Cloud9

It’s been a rough season for Cloud9, after being crowned champions at ELEAGUE: Boston – the first major of the year – there were high hopes for the North American outfit; however, the rest of the season would show a cluster of poor results.

After Jake “Stewie2K” Yip fled Cloud9 to join SK the team has seemingly been unable to recover since, especially with their current roster instability regarding Pujan “FNS” Mehta impending release. Cloud9 desperately needs a tournament win under their belts – however, taking a look at their group stage pitting, it’s unlikely we’ll see them break out into playoffs.

Betway 11.00 Pinnacle 15.47 Bet365 15.00

 

Fnatic

Swedish troop Fnatic, landed in the first group amongst Cloud9 and Team Liquid where it’s suggested the three will race to 2nd place in the group. Fnatic is a team with a rich history of winning in CS:GO, unfortunately, this season hasn’t yielded their best results.

The Swedes managed two impressive title wins at the Intel Extreme Masters XII World Championship and World Electronic Sports Games this year, but solely these two trophies are a far cry from Fnatic’s customary champion reign. There were a couple notable alterations to Fnatic’s roster prior to London – Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson was benched as they picked up former NiP man, Xizt, after his short-lived loan with FaZe. Lekr0, thought to be pivotal in Fnatic’s success this season, would stir up a bit of a question as he moved from the active roster despite Xizt’s involvement in FaZe Clan’s recent tournament prosperity. There’s no telling how the new configuration will pan out for Fnatic until the frags start flying in London.

Betway 7.00 Pinnacle 8.11 Bet365 11.00

 

Team Liquid

Liquid clinched third in the ECS North American League, proving they belong at the ECS Finals but still facing a long road ahead of standing on the winner’s podium. Liquid has experienced growth as an upshot of Epitacio “TACO” de Melo joining the roster back in March; the Brazilian CS:GO superstar was a central part of former squad SK and has since proven he can carry that success over to bolster other talented squads. Earning first in the NA League yet falling just short of a title finish to none other than Astralis at ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals, Liquid’s steady ascent hasn’t gone unnoticed.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Liquid fashion a couple upsets at this event, hell, we’d consider them to be the dark horses in London, no pun intended.

Betway 5.50 Pinnacle 7.48 Bet365 7.00

Group B

While the second group isn’t anywhere near as unforgiving as the first, Group B is still projected to be a tight-running. Despite being the first seed, NRG will have their work cut out for them – most likely contested by G2 to escape the group stage while FaZe Clan is forecasted to advance. Let’s break down Group B to see if we can get a better idea of how teams will stack up in the playoff prelims.

NRG Esports

Coming off a stellar 17-1 run through the ECS NA League, NRG is looking to be in good form coming into this event. Despite clutching onto just one Minor win in the 2018 season – the iBUYPOWER Invitational – NRG saw a crowd of victories in qualifiers against rugged groups such as Team Liquid, Luminosity Gaming, and SK.

They’re also coming into this tournament after finishing second at the StarLadder i-League Season 5 Finals last weekend, only falling to Na`Vi at the last hurdle. We foresee NRG clashing stiffly against G2 and FaZe in Group B while Luminosity should be easy pickings for the top-seeded crew. Although the second group appears to be less menacing than the first, NRG is going to need to maintain this tempo if they want to survive.

Betway 15.00 Pinnacle 15.47 Bet365 13.00

 

G2 Esports

The 2018 season has been a rocky one for G2, the squad has had a series of mixed results including 7-8th at the Intel Extreme Masters XIII Sydney and 13-16th at DreamHack Masters Marseille; the poor outcomes were thought to be correlated to the absence of Richard “shox” Papillon who announced his return to the active roster in time for the ECS Finals.

G2 introduced a slew of other roster adjustments ahead of this event as well, hoping to bolster their squad and turn things around for the organisation in London. Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt would be removed from the starting five alongside Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and replaced by the returning shox and Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux from the coaching role; it was later revealed the G2 players had expressed discomfort in playing alongside NBK, thus the lineup rework should prove to enrich the chemistry of the team. Finally, recent triallist Óscar “mixwell” Cañellas is set to be replaced by Belgian veteran Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans for this one event.

Betway 11.00 Pinnacle 9.66 Bet365 11.00

 

FaZe Clan

FaZe is going to be a fascinating team to watch at this event, and with that, perhaps an attractive pick for bettors to hoist the ECS trophy come Sunday. The payout for a FaZe outright win is higher than Astralis, and we expect they are one of only teams able to challenge the Danes in London. FaZe stripped Astralis of a title win at Intel Extreme Masters XIII Sydney just last month in a riveting best of five sweep. Although Richard “Xizt” Landström was credited with that win – filling in as a substitute for Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson during a personal leave.

While at first it was expected Olof would be rostered to play in London, he announced just a few days ago he would be sitting out this event. Olof’s return to the original FaZe lineup would surely be preferred, adding a touch of color in their performance – however, they’ll have to settle with Norwegian Jorgen ‘Cromen’ Robertsen as a stand-in at the ECS Finals.

Betway 5.00 Pinnacle 5.57 Bet365 7.00

 

Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity was just barely able to clinch the 4th seed at the ECS Finals from the league – they finished the pitting stage with an overall record of 10-8. Aside from finishing first in the DreamHack Open Valencia 2018: North American Qualifier by beating out Rogue Esports and eUnited, Luminosity hasn’t displayed much durability against stronger teams. Luminosity has the highest odds at the ECS Finals, but don’t plan on betting on them to turn a profit; It’s doubtful we’ll see the all-Brazilian cast trounce any of the teams in Group B, let alone win the event.

Predictions

There’s a lot at stake in London this weekend, teams are looking to either fossilize their names among other CS:GO greats or redefine themselves halfway through the season – regardless of their status, no one wants to exit the ECS Finals early. Here’s our picks for who will appear in the Grand Finals.

Astralis

The way we see it, Astralis practically has their names etched on the ECS Season 5 trophy already; the Danes have been in unsurpassable form the last few months and an upset seems dubious. Although we predict there may be some friction against Liquid and FaZe, Astralis likely has this one in the bag.

To reach the final 1.49

 

FaZe Clan

I’m betting on FaZe delivering fans a compelling story at London for a few reasons – despite the lack of both Xizt and Olof, Cromen should serve to be a good surrogate within this formation. FaZe is the only group as of recently able to test Astralis while in their celestial shape – a skirmish between the two would be an enthralling bout.

To reach the final 2.11