The ESL Pro League Season 8 finals kicks off on December 4 in Odense, Denmark, featuring 16 teams from all over the world competing for a $750,000 prize pool and a chance to get themselves on the board for the $1 million Intel Grand Slam award.
Barely a week removed from ECS Season 6 finals in Arlington, we’re set to see yet another big time clash. This time, it’ll be at the Sparekassen Fyn Arena in Odense; there are more teams in contention, and more on the line. The action begins next week on Tuesday with the Group Stages, followed by the Playoffs on Friday.
With some of the world’s best teams in attendance, and a couple more others who are looking to disrupt the status quo, the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals worth taking a close look at.
So, who’s competing? Who are the favourites? What’s at stake?
Read on more below to find out!
What Is The ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals?
In CS:GO, there are few organizers who can pull off a spectacular event as ESL can. Since its early days, ESL has continuously pushed the boundaries to give audiences from all over the world a chance to watch the best teams in CS:GO battle it out.
The ESL Pro League is just one of ESL’s many events that helps them accomplish this. Featuring some of the largest prize pools in the game, and since 2017, having become part of the long line of events included in Season 1 of the Intel Grand Slam, the ESL Pro League is a must-watch event.
The ESL Pro League Season 8 finals, which will take place at the Sparekassen Fyn Arena in Odense, will not be an exception. Held up to the same standards as tournaments in the past, with a $750,000 prize pool to boot, the event will see some of the best teams in the game competing on a grand stage in an event that’s not to be outdone by anything that most would see in a traditional sports tournament.
For more information on the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals, be sure to check out the official ESL Pro League website.
Who’s Competing in the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals?
The ESL Pro League Season 8 finals will feature a who’s who of teams in CS:GO, featuring a mix of all-time performers, title contenders, and teams who are out to prove themselves.
Unlike other tournaments in CS:GO, each team had to qualify via their regional Pro Leagues to gain entry into the event. Seven teams qualified via the European league, with six qualifying via North America. The other three spots were distributed evenly to Oceania, Asia, and South America.
Here are all the teams that qualified for the event:
- Natus Vincere
- G2 Esports
- Ghost Gaming
- Team Liquid
- NRG Esports
- INTZ eSports
- Vici Gaming
- Sharks Esports
What Is The Tournament Format? How Much Is At Stake?
The ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals is broken up into two parts: a double-elimination GSL-style Group Stage and a 6-team single-elimination Playoff bracket.
During the group stage, the two groups were split into two double-elimination brackets. The top three teams from each group will advance to the playoffs, with their performance determining their seed; the top seed or winners of the upper bracket advance directly to the semifinals, while the runners-up and third-place teams will be seeded into the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
All first round matches of the tournament will be best-of-ones, followed by best-of-threes for all of the rest. Only the Grand Finals on December 9 will be a best of five.
The prize pool, as mentioned earlier, is set at $750,000. However, more than the near-million dollar prize pool, a point for Season 1 of the Intel Grand Slam is also up for grabs.
The Intel Grand Slam is a $1 million reward that will be given to the first team that wins 4 premiere events organized by either ESL or DreamHack Masters in 10 tries, with $100,000 awarded to a team that spoils a team and denies them their fourth victory towards the Intel Grand Slam in the Grand Finals of a participating event.
So far, ESL has yet to release information regarding the breakdown of the prize pool for the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals.
Who are the Heavy Favourites to Win?
The Danes continue to post one of the most dominant sustained performances in CS:GO history to this point and they haven’t showed any signs of slowing down. Fresh off a spectacular win at the ECS Season 6 finals and IEM Chicago, Astralis are looking to win their third straight title and their 9th for the year as they seek to put up a good show in front of their home crowd at the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals.
The longtime CIS fan favourites hit a bit of a rough patch at IEM Chicago 2018, but there’s little reason to expect anything else but a bounce-back performance. Not when the presumptive esports player of the year, Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev, is still on the roster.
So long as Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov can continue playing Robin to s1mple’s Batman, Natus Vincere look poised to play spoilers to Astralis’ bid for the Intel Grand Slam award.
Since playing under a different banner, the former SK Gaming squad has not played up to expectations. To say that their 2018 has been underwhelming seems only fitting. But, given the talent on the roster, there’s just too much firepower to ever doubt this squad, and their performance at the ECS Season 6 LAN finals in Arlington proved that they’re closer to finally gelling more than ever.
With Natus Vincere and Team Liquid fresh off of abysmal LAN performances, MIBR have a clear path to taking the lead in the race for second-place right now.
Team Liquid are in an unenviable position in that they’ll have to deliver at the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals, or else, it might be curtains for their lineup.
No one in the right mind is going to call Team Liquid underachievers nor underwhelming. They’ve made it to more Grand Finals this year than just about every other team not named Astralis. Additionally, they have consistently placed among the Top 4 in LAN tournaments. But, you see, that’s the problem; nobody really remembers who finished second.
For all of Team Liquid’s success, they have yet to claim a title since winning the CS Summit earlier this year.
At this point, Team Liquid will need to prove they actually have what it takes to win.
What Are The Biggest Tournament Storylines Worth Following?
New Challengers Emerge
Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a couple of teams establish themselves as teams worthy of keeping a close eye on.
While all eyes will no doubt be on the favourites at the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals, there are some teams that could pull off an upset or two. Namely, there’s mousesports, North, and BIG, who each have either gone to a Grand Finals in recent months, or even won a tournament as an underdog.
Their performance at the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals should help help determine if they simply are strong B-level teams or legitimate world-class contenders.
Which Teams Will Look the Same Next Year?
Two top teams in Team Liquid and MIBR are already looking like they’re not going to be playing with the same roster next year, but which other teams will decide to bite the bullet and risk disrupting chemistry in hopes of improving their skill ceiling?
With Astralis not going anywhere anytime soon, it won’t come off as a surprise for much of the scene to look completely different next year as teams desperately try to field a roster that can take out the Danes.
Who’s Going to Stop Astralis?
Speaking of Astralis, when will their current run of dominance ever end? While they haven’t technically won every tournament they’ve played in this year, 8 out of 15 doesn’t sound so bad. This is especially true when they’ve placed in the Top 4 in all but two of them.
Given the way that Astralis are playing, their success is likely here to stay. It’s now up to the other teams to try and keep up.
If they can win the Intel Grand Slam Award, plus take home gold in two more Major events, their place on top is theirs to keep forever, or at least, until otherwise proven.
Contrary to some naysayers that Astralis’ dominance has made watching CS:GO boring, them being a target has given other teams something to aspire to. Although no team is ever going to admit that they’re merely racing for second place right now, it is the reality of things. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make for one of the most exciting eras in CS:GO, as Astralis try to push the envelope on how to win games while other teams desperate try to keep up by devising their own strategies and tactics.