The conclusion of season 15 of the ESL Pro League, with FaZe Clan winning in April 2022, seems very recent. But that’s the nature of the beast. Caravans roll thick and fast and here we are, looking ahead to season 16 already.
The 24-team event will feature a Sportsbooks prize pool of $175,000. The overall prize pool is a mighty impressive $823,000. Also at stake is a berth at the BLAST World Final 2022 and IEM Katowice 2023. As for the format, the tournament features four groups of six teams. Teams will play the other in a single round-robin format and each series will be a best-of-three.
Those that top the group make it through to the quarterfinals directly, while the teams that finish second and third will feature in a round of 12. The playoffs will place teams in a single-elimination bracket, where all games, with the exception of the grand finale, will be best-of-three. The final will be a best-of-five.
According to the odds at Sportsbook, FaZe Clan are primed to continue their sensational run of form with odds of +175. They’re followed closely by Natus Vincere (+195), a refreshed Cloud9 (+475), Heroic (+700) and Vitality (+900).
Before we dive into the details of the event, make sure to brush up on your CS with our Counter-Strike betting guide.
Odds as of August 31 at Sportsbook
Favorites To Win The ESL Pro League Season 16
FaZe Clan (+175)
They can’t put a foot wrong currently. FaZe, the Sportsbooks of ESL Pro Season 15, then topped that by winning the IEM and PGL Majors. They also finished as runners-up of the Roobet Cup. They’re the No. 1 team in the world, and the prospect of doing an Intel Grand Slam now stares right at them. The thought itself is intimidating enough. Results that the fraternity has expected out of them for a while are now starting to show.
Karrigan’s performances have been a key driver for their success. A title Sportsbook with Astralis and TSM prior to joining FaZe, he’s taken his game up several notches while here. He has been among the primary reasons for their chart-topping spree. Having returned to the team he parted ways with in 2019 and having become the oldest to win a major at 31, his hunger and reinvigoration has coincided with the team’s unprecedented success.
Karrigan’s return now and his success since has covered up for his golden miss in 2018, when they failed to capitalize on a 15-9 lead on Inferno at the E-League Boston Major Finals against Cloud9. But that’s all in the past. They have an aura around them because of their consistency and drive to produce results while making minimal tweaks to personnel and strategy.
Natus Vincere (+195)
They are coming off a sensational run at BLAST Premier, losing a solitary game in the tournament. At the start, there were concerns about s1mple’s availability, but he returned to the playoffs and cranked up their performances several notches. Na’Vi are now on a five-map winning spree, ready to slip into ESL Season 16 to carry forward their ruthlessness.
Dust2 is their stronger suit and Inferno perhaps their gray area considering they have a success record of less than 60 percent. After some doubts, it’s now been confirmed Ukrainian rifler sdy will continue to be their fifth player through the upcoming major cycle. He’s going to be with the team at least until IEM Rio Major in November.
This comes as a major shot in the arm for a team that looks strong and settles otherwise. Multiple close clashes with FaZe in tournament finals this year are reflected in these odds – while FaZe has repeatedly bested Na’Vi, Na’Vi have pushed them to the limit every time, and there is a very slim margin between them.
Dark Horses To Win The ESL Pro League Season 16
Much of Cloud9’s roster consists of stars from Gambit – players with experience, pedigree and big-match temperament. This gives Cloud9 a distinct advantage, and they have a great opportunity to go all the way. They are among the invited teams, but even if they had to qualify, chances are they would’ve done just as well to get here.
They are serious contenders now, and an example of how serious they are to push boundaries lies in their acquisition of a Russian roster as part of their developmental squad, coached by F_1N. F_1N has previous coaching experience with Gambit, and with several players from here now having moved to Cloud9, it’s almost like a grand reunion.
That said, the academy roster he takes over has little or no experience. H1te has the most competitive experience with 62 maps played. Nevertheless, this move is just a peek into what makes Cloud9 a dangerous team – they are building a talent pool that can potentially compete on their day and topple top teams in the years to come. They’re a good squad, even if not championship material. Their astute acquisitions make them a team no one will want to take lightly.
Team Liquid (+2500)
YEKINDAR’s arrival seems to have transformed Liquid’s fortunes. He had been knocking on the doors of several big teams for over a year. He was the eighth-best CS:GO player in the world in 2021 and was among the best players available in the free market until Liquid’s signing. Albeit as a stand-in, he completed a pivotal moment for the team.
Success hasn’t been instant, but he’s been prepared to grind it out and stay patient. His demeanor and attitude have also mirrored those of the team, which recently secured one of the best wins over G2 and Complexity, answering critics who were starting to raise eyebrows about their game in general.
They beat Heroic 16-6 on Vertigo and 16-8 on Overpass. It remains to be seen if Liquid nurtures this partnership further. Success at ESL Pro League Season 16 could yet usher in a new era for both the player and the team.