The COVID-19 pandemic has put quite a strain on the esports competitive scene. Still, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) decided that the show must go on(line), and formed five regional online divisions for the prestigious ESL Pro League. 

We will look at two fixtures, which will take place this Thursday in the strongest division of the five – the European ESL Pro League.

Fnatic vs. Spirit – ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe

Thursday, September 3, 14:00 CEST

Fnatic will enter this match straight after the ESL One: Cologne 2020 Online – Europe, where they managed to win only one game out of three played and finished in ninth-12th place. Fnatic’s only win came against Heretics (2-1), yet even that proved to be a very close bout, which could have easily ended in Heretic’s favor.

Besides their narrow win against Heretics, Maikil “Golden” Selim and co. lost to Astralis (0-2) with 5-16 on Nuke and 17-19 on Train, and Heroic (0-2) with two 11-16 losses on Vertigo and Overpass.

Spirit, on the other side, will be entering this match with a streak of eight consecutive wins, which they have earned by defeating the likes of forZe, Espada, K23, and other teams of similar quality.

Spirit has also recently won two tournaments in Eden Arena Malta Vibes Cup 8 and Nine to Five 3, so it’s safe to say that Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov and his crew won’t be lacking confidence as they get ready to take on the number eight team in the world.

Spirit and Fnatic last met in Group C of the DreamHack Master’s Spring 2020 Europe in May, where Spirit secured a clean 2-0 win. It’s worth noting that while the second map (Inferno) was relatively close (16-14), Spirit completely crushed Fnatic on Nuke (16-3) thanks to a solid all-round performance from their members.

Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov and Boris “magixx” Vorobiev were the best-performing players that day for Spirit, sharing a 1.50 HLTV rating, whereas Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson emerged as the best player on Fnatic with a poor 0.91 HLTV rating.

Looking at the odds offered on this match, they make no sense and seem to be placed based on the brand value alone. There is no reason to have Fnatic priced as favorites over Spirit, especially if we consider their shaky performances as ESL One Cologne and the fact that Spirit is on a hot streak.

Spirit already defeated Fnatic a couple of months ago, and it’s hard to believe they can’t do it again. The Swedes are not even close to the form they had in the pre-online era of CS, and until we see some improvement from them, it’s fair to say they can lose to anyone – especially Spirit. Value bet on Spirit.

Prediction: Spirit to win – 1.934 Pinnacle

Complexity vs. Astralis – ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe

Thursday, September 3, 17:30 CEST

The last time Astralis and Complexity met on the battlefield was way back in April during the ESL One: Road to Rio – Europe, where Astralis outlasted Complexity and edged out a 2-1 win.

Their last series began with Astralis claiming the lead with 16-4 on Vertigo, but slipped up a bit on Nuke (13-16), and allowed Complexity to tie the series at 1-1. The third and final map saw Astralis pocket a commanding 11-4 half time lead, which they then used to cruise to a 16-11 victory.

Nicolai “device” Reedtz was once again the man of the hour that day with 57 frags and 1.17 HLTV rating across the series. At the same time, his teammates Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander did not fail to impress either with 1.14 and 1.12 HLTV ratings, respectively. On the side of Complexity, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke was the only player who looked solid with 67 frags and 1.22 HLTV.

Regarding their last meeting, it’s worth noting that Astralis were still playing with Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth and gla1ve, neither of whom will be present in this match. Instead, their spots have been filled in with Patrick “es3tag” Hansen and Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen. 

Astralis are priced as favorites, which seems fair, given that they’re still regarded as one of the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams in the world. Having said that, the current version of Astralis (without Xyp9x and gla1ve) is not nearly as good as the “old Astralis” from 2019.

The Danes are 2-1 in their last three games, which includes a 0-2 loss to Ninjas in Pyjamas, and since it’s more than fair to say Complexity is a far better team than NiP, we are likely in for a close and exciting match where Complexity could easily come out ahead. Value bet on Complexity.

Prediction: Complexity to win – 2.31 at Pinnacle