The second week of ESL Pro League Season 12 will begin this weekend, with some of the strongest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams in the world competing for the title of regional champions and the lion’s share of the tournament’s prize pool.

Today we will look at two fixtures, one from the European region between Team Vitality and Astralis, and a North American ESL Pro League clash between Triumph and FURIA. Both matches are scheduled to be played on Wednesday as a part of Week 2 matches in their respective competitions.

Team Vitality vs. Astralis – ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe

Wednesday, September 9, 21:00 CEST

Team Vitality and Astralis last met only a couple of weeks ago in the Group B upper bracket semi-finals at the ESL One Cologne 2020 Europe. The Danes startled Vitality and secured a commanding 2-0 win with 6-8 on Nuke and 16-7 on Dust2. The match was surprisingly one-sided, especially considering the French juggernauts failed to reach double digits on either of the two maps. 

Vitality’s best player that day was Richard “shox” Papillon with 33 frags and 0.96 HLTV rating, while Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut managed a disastrous 0.72 HLTV rating and only 23 frags. On the side of Astralis, the story was a polar opposite, as all players performed exceptionally well (>1.20 HLTV rating), yet it was Emil “Magisk” Reif, who shone the brightest with 40 frags and 1.34 rating.

The main reason for Vitality’s poor display that day was visible frustration amongst the players, which is often the case in this team when their star player ZywOo fails to perform well. That is a very worrying characteristic to have, especially in matches against tactically sound teams such as Astralis and Heroic.

If we look at the head-to-head record between Vitality and Astralis, it’s evident that the Danish squad will enter this match with a mental edge. Out of five games they have played with Vitality, Astralis won four best-of-three (Bo3) series and lost only one Bo1, so they’re clearly the better team.

It’s also worth noting that Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander recently returned to Astralis’ roster, a massive quality boost for the fourth-time Major champions, and another reason we view Astralis as a massive favorite.

Even though Astralis recently lost to Complexity (0-2), they quickly bounced back and crushed FaZe Clan (2-0) only a couple of days ago, which should serve as a morale boost ahead of their clash with ZywOo and his crew. Expect Astralis to continue their commanding H2H record and take down Vitality for the fifth time this year!

Prediction: Astralis to win – 1.800 at Pinnacle

FURIA vs. Triumph – ESL Pro League Season 12 North America

Wednesday, September 9, 12:00 PDT

FURIA is entering this match with three wins out of their last five games, where they have produced quite volatile results. FURIA showed no struggle when they took down the likes of Cloud9, 100 Thieves, and Gen.G, however, failed to deliver against the no.1 North American CS:GO team Evil Geniuses and Chaos Esports Club.

FURIA recently won the DreamHack Open Summer 2020 North America, with four straight wins against Team Liquid, Chaos, TeamOne, and Yeah, which helped them improve their win rate across the last three months to a fairly impressive 66.7%. FURIA is also 7-2 since the end of the players’ break, so it’s fair to say they’re in great form.

Triumph went through quite a massive roster change not long ago, with one of the most notable being the departure of their star player, Michael “Grim” Wince, who left for Team Liquid. Shortly after, Rahul “curry” Nemani decided to step down from the active roster, which ushered the signing of Erik “penny” Penny and Kaleb “moose” Jayne as their replacement.

More changes followed earlier this week when Gabe “Spongey” Greiner left the team and was quickly replaced by Ryan “ryann” Welsh, who arrived at Triumph after leaving the failed Team Envy project.

If we draw a line, Triumph is an entirely different team to what they were only a couple of months ago, and this new-look Triumph does not inspire much confidence. Triumph lost their best player and filled the holes in their roster with tier-two players, which soon proved to be a massive downgrade.

Triumph are 0-5 in their last five games, which includes losses against Chaos, Ze Pug Godz, Evil Geniuses, Cloud9, and Gen.G. Those results were somewhat expected, but it’s fair to say that the morale in this team is not very high, which is not optimal when you’re facing an objectively stronger team.

Triumph and FURIA have never met before on the battlefield, which is a type of match we usually tend to avoid betting on, especially with a -1.5 map handicap. But we have to make an exception here, solely because Triumph is in shambles and have no business playing at such a high level – at least not with the roster they have now. Expect a comfortable 2-0 win for FURIA!

Prediction: FURIA -1.50 Maps – 1.473