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Astralis, Na`Vi Faves to Win ESL Pro League Season 13

ESL Pro League Season 13

Consistent Counter-Strike action is finally returning, with the ESL Pro League’s 13th Season kicking off on March 8, giving us sets of matches every week for over a month.

We’ll see all the best battle it out in the Pro League, which means there will be some amazing games and we’ll have a ton of wagering opportunities throughout March. Let’s take a look at exactly how the event works and who we can expect to see playing.

Who’s Playing in ESL Pro League Season 13?

ESL Pro League is a lengthy international event featuring a whopping 24 teams. This includes all the usual favorites like Astralis, Natus Vincere, and Team Vitality, as well as some underdogs like Endpoint, FunPlus Phoenix, and even the boys down under, Renegades. If you’re a North American or Brazilian fan then don’t worry, the top few teams from your regions are attending too.

As for the event specifics, the Pro League kicks off on March 8 and lasts until April 11. It’s a true endurance race, as teams are first placed in groups of six and must play every team in their group once. Then, the winners of each group advance to a Play-In to decide seeding - claiming spots in the semifinals and quarterfinals, while second and third place start playoffs in the round of 12.

This season of the ESL Pro League is a bit different from the usual event format, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Winning a group and a subsequent Play-In match can land a team straight into the semi-finals, which will no doubt prove to be advantageous, and maybe even reveal the early playoff favorites.

Odds to Win ESL Pro League Season 13
FaZe Clan+1100
Evil Geniuses+1200
Ninjas in Pyjamas+1900
FunPlus Phoenix+3000
Team One+30000

Odds as of March 6 at BetOnline

Astralis, Na`Vi Look For Katowice Revenge

Astralis and Na`Vi enter as the two favorites for the ESL Pro League and it’s difficult to disagree. The teams come in ranked first and second on the HLTV world rankings following a strong end to 2020 and top placings at 2021’s first big event, the BLAST Premier Global Finals.

Katowice, however, did not go as planned for both teams, who were beaten down by the stunning underdog runs of Gambit and Virtus.pro. Both of the CIS teams had barely made a scratch at the elite level in 2020, and seeing them claim both grand finals spots was nothing short of a miracle.

With Astralis and Na`Vi both losing to these underdogs, they’ll be looking to show why they’re considered the best of the best and set things right with dominant performances. We’ll no doubt see the two favorites fired up and it’s hard to see anyone stopping them.

Can Gambit Pull Off Another Miracle?

The youngsters of Gambit pulled off a miracle in Poland as they took down some of the world’s best teams on their way to a stunning victory at IEM Katowice. For reference, Bodog had them at +3300 to win the event, so to say the odds were huge is an understatement.

Their squad did have the potential to turn some heads this year, with many picking Gambit as a team to watch. However, no one could’ve expected them to succeed so early, which begs a question: How far can Gambit go?

Honestly, it’s difficult to judge - we’ve seen teams in CSGO win an event or two and simply vanish over the next few months, and we’ve also seen unexpected triumphs be the start of an era. All we can really do is wait and see, but Gambit are a good option for an underdog pick, even if their odds aren’t as high as before.

Are Vitality Being Underrated?

One team surprisingly far outside the favorites is Vitality. The French squad came into 2021 as one of the best teams in the world, but have started slow. They lost both their matches at BLAST Premier, and tumbled out of IEM Katowice in 9-12 place, following a loss to Liquid and eventual grand finalists Virtus.pro.

However, there’s no doubt we’ll still see much of Vitality this year. The team houses the best player in the world, Zywoo, a good mix of experience and firepower, as well as an innovative six-man roster. They have all the cards to succeed, all they have to do is play them correctly.

It’s true their form coming into the Pro League isn’t great, but this is an event that’s over a month-long. There’s plenty of time for Vitality to regroup and I think there’s real potential for them to secure one of the top finishes, if not even the trophy itself.