Alright, my friends! This is the season of a lot of Counter Strike action again! There will be two big events that will be happening this month of June for CS:GO. The first event will be Dream Hack Summer, which will be held in Jonkoping, Sweden on the 15th, but we are not actually here for that. What I am about to announce to you ladies and gents is the bigger event which will be happening just after Dream Hack.
What I am talking about is the Valve sponsored Major, which is the ESL Pro League Season 9. This big tournament will also be the fourth part of the much awaited Intel Grand Slam Series, which Team Liquid is currently leading the pack with their wins in Sydney and Dallas. Astralis is trailing behind with 1 win from their run during Katowice in February.
Regarding the ESL Pro League, that Major tournament will be held in the Sud de France Arena in Montpellier, France. The event proper will start on the 18th of June and will end on the 23rd of June. It will also feature a $600,000 pool, with a quarter of a million dollars going to the squad that will lift the crown. This is by far the one of the bigger Valve sponsored prize money for CS:GO this year.
Let’s check the list of participants and also discuss the possible winners of the ESL Pro League Season 9 groups.
Teams and Groups
There will be a total of 16 hopefuls that have secured their spots through the regional qualifiers. Half of those spots were secured by the squads from Europe. 6 of those spots were secured by the squads hailing from the Americas, while the remaining 2 slots went to Oceania and Asian qualifiers.
Let me announce the 16 squads that will be battling it out for the $250,000. I will be separating them first by their region and then their designated groups that they were assigned in.
There has been a somewhat stable roster in almost all of the competing CS:GO teams right now, the only one that happened recently is that Adren has already been released from his contract in Faze Clan. They will be replacing him with NEO from the old Virtus Pro lineup, after Virtus Pro decided not to renew NEO, Byali and Pasha’s contracts.
Another lineup change that just happened today is on one of the American crews. Daps, who is their current in-game leader will be moved to the inactive list for reasons unknown yet. NRG also just recently signed Stanislaw to take the spot of Daps for the in-game leader position.
However, we still do not know if he will change his play style to entry fragging as Daps has been the first one in on the sites before, while Stanislaw used to play as a lurker for Complexity. That still waits to be seen.
The tournament format for this will follow the same one that was used during last year’s ESL Pro League in Dallas, Texas. The group stage will be double elimination with winners of the opening matches securing Upper bracket spots while losers get knocked down to the lower brackets. There will only be 6 teams that will be advancing to the playoffs from the group stages. The match seeding will be based on ESL’s revolving rankings for the current year.
The winners will get secure a semi-final slot in the playoffs, while the 2nd and 3rd places from each of the groups get the high and low seeds respectively in the quarterfinals. Since this is the playoffs, this will be single elimination unlike the first stage of the event.
All of the matches will be played in Bo3, except for two instances. The opening matches to determine the upper and lower brackets in the first stage is Bo1, while the Grand Finals will be played in Bo5.
CS:GO ESL Pro League Season 9 Predictions
Now here comes the fun part. This is always the part where I am most excited about, making predictions for all of you CS:GO gamblers. We do have an excellent lineup of teams for this upcoming tourney in France, and I have to say that I am very excited about this event.
This will be the tournament where Team Liquid might be able to run away with the IEM Grand Slam title if they manage to win this event. If ever they lift another major trophy here, hey will be in the lead of the pack for the IEM Grand Slam title with 3 wins, and will be closer to that $1,000,000 smackaroons.
However, this is also the big event that Astralis has been waiting for. If they manage to win this event, then they will be leveled with Liquid in the Grand Slam race, with 2 wins each. Aside from that, there are also squads that you regularly see competing in this top tier tourneys. There is also a newcomer in this tourney in Detona Gaming, which is flying the flag of Brazil.
Now enough of me talking and ranting about the IEM Grand Slam. I will be making my predictions based on the 2 separate groups and which of those squads will most likely rise to the top and second the playoff spots. So, without further ado, here are my top 3 predictions for the respective groups.
At first glance, there are a lot of heavy hitters in this bracket. However, this bracket is somewhat lopsided. There are a few of the squads here that do not have a lot of big Major experience yet such as Detona and also Heroic. For sure, these two squads will be whipped around by the big boys such as Fnatic, Astralis, and NRG.
However, their lack of experience playing in big events can also work for their favor. Remember Ence? Ence was a small team, just like Detona. And they surprised everyone in Katowice by heading to the Grand Finals against Astralis. They did it again during Dreamhack Dallas against Liquid this time. So I would not count Detona nor Heroic out just yet, as they are excellent Dark Horse picks.
Now that we got the dark horses out, I think Astralis will be winning Group A. The only tough teams that they have to face in here is the NRG and the Fnatic squads. Out of all the others, NRG has been tearing up the competitions these past few months by placing within top 8 in some of the events they joined in, so they might prove to be a challenge against Astralis. Same thing as Fnatic.
Fnatic has been doing good lately as well. If Astralis overcomes these two squads, or if they dispatch them early on in the opening and the upper bracket matches, it will be smooth sailing for Astralis for the pole position for sure. They have not been playing for the past few events so that means they are well rested, and it is to their advantage that they are somewhat fresh.
Now, for the squads that will be joining the Danes, it will be most likely NRG coming in second and Fnatic coming in third. Like I said earlier, there are big names in this bracket, but some of the teams in here are shadows of their past. Cloud 9 is still in the restructure phase right now, so I do not think they will advance to the playoffs. Same thing with Grayhound. The moment they lost Gratisfaction to the Renegades, they seem to be lost with the much-needed firepower to push to the later stages of any event they join. Same thing with Cloud 9, when they lost Stewie and Tarik. So I will be going with NRG as the runners up and take the high seed for the quarterfinals, while Fnatic takes the lower seed.
Alright! This collection of rosters looks very promising, to be honest. This looks like a real Group of Death in here. You got very strong mainstays in here such as Liquid, MiBR and Faze Clan. However, the others such as mouz, North, TyLoo and Hell Raisers can take games off of these top 3 squads any given Sunday. It is really hard to pick a dark horse in here since all of them are very strong teams.
However, I will put my money on mouz and even North to somehow manage to sneak past if they manage to land some good wins against the bigger names in this list. With Woxic and Karrigan in the new Mouz roster, they are really scary on paper right now. North is nothing to scoff at too. They managed to place well during ESL Cologne and also during the ECS Finals a couple of days ago, so I’m crossing my fingers for them.
For the bracket winner, there is only one team that I have in mind right now in Group B. That is Liquid. Out of all the names in this bracket, they are the ones who have a lot to prove to everyone, and also they have a lot of stake on the line too. With them currently leading the Grand Slam rankings, I am sure that getting to the playoffs here in France is on the top of their list right now. I mean, there is a very good motivator for them to perform well.
That $1,000,000 prize is up for their grabs if they manage to win here again, so that is a very good motivator in my honest opinion. And they have been performing spectacularly too these past 2 months. Too many people wrote them off during the start of the year since they were dismal, but when Nitro, Elige, and Stewie adjusted, they became an unstoppable freight train that will wreck anyone in their way. Just look at the whole Sydney tourney. They destroyed everyone!
For the runners up, I am pretty sure that Faze Clan and MiBR will be performing to their best of abilities. Faze has a new lineup, with NEO joining them and will be also calling the shots and the plays, as the in-game leader role has been given to him due to his experience in the role in Virtus Pro before. With NiKo concentrating on fragging, I am sure that they will for sure be able to take at least second place in Group B. In case of MiBR, they are a strong lineup.
However, they are far too much inconsistent at times and that leads to their detriment. If the old SK crew manage to find a good rhythm in this event, they will be able to safely secure 3rd place in the Group of Death. However, if fail to find a good rhythm, they might not make it out of the initial stages and it will be most likely Mouz or North taking the 3rd place as they are my dark horse picks.
If you have your own prediction for the CS:GO ESL Pro League Season 9 tournament, feel free to share it in the comment section below!