The global CS:GO tournament ESL Pro League will be returning this year for its 13th season. ESL Pro League Season 13 will have 24 teams competing for the ESL Pro League Championship, as well as key points for the ESL Pro Tour. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Season 13 will be split into online Group Stage and offline LAN Play-Ins leading all the way to the Grand Final.
ESL Pro League Season 13 will play out over the span of four weeks, starting with the Group Stage on March 8th and culminating in a Bo5 Grand Final on April 11th. The $750.000 prize pool will be distributed among the 24 teams, but teams also receive $5.000 for each win during the Group Stage.
The Group Stage is split into four single Round-Robin format groups, with six teams in each group. All the matches will be Bo3 (best of three). The winner of each group proceeds into the Play-In, while the 2nd and 3rd placed teams proceed into the Round of 12. The Play-Ins are a Single-Elimination bracket, and each match is Bo3. The winners move into Semifinals, while the losers advance into Quarterfinals. The Playoffs are all Bo3, with Grand Finals being Bo5.
English Stream – https://www.twitch.tv/ESL_CSGO
Russian Stream – https://www.twitch.tv/csgomc_ru
ESL Stream – https://live.proleague.com/csgo
The 24 participating teams will be fighting for the ESL Pro League Championship, but the competition will be fierce. Groups were seeded on February 1st. The 12 permanent partner teams received direct invites, two were chosen from the ESEA premier, and the remaining 10 were selected according to the ESL World Ranking.
This year’s event is packed with top-tier CS:GO teams from all around the globe. We can see some familiar faces among the 12 partnered teams, but also some newcomers such as MIBR and Team One, both coming from Brazil. While it’s impossible to peer into the future and see who’ll be crowned the winner, we can analyse some of the teams and toss in our own predictions for this tournament.
According to the ESL World Ranking, Astralis holds the nr.1 spot with nearly 900 points. This Danish powerhouse has been dominating the CS:GO world for the past 5 years, claiming multiple S-tier tournament titles and amassing almost $9m in total winnings. They were the winners of ESL Pro League Season 12 – Europe, and won seasons 7 and 8 prior to that, so we expect them to go for the title this time around too. However, they had the misfortune of landing into Group D, which is by far one of the strongest ones in the tournament. If Astralis can overcome Team Liquid and Virtus.pro, they’ll be on their way to the Play-Ins and a step closer to the title.
The Ukrainian CS:GO veterans are one of the main contenders for this year’s title. The Intel Extreme Masters XIV champions let the most recent season XV tournament slip through their fingers after they got eliminated by Gambit Esports in the Quarterfinals. During the ESL Pro League Season 12, they climbed all the way to the top, but were also beaten by Astralis in a close 3:2 match. They will be looking to settle the score and add the ESL Pro League title to their already rich collection of trophies, and re-establish themselves at the very top of the CS:GO scene. Group C has some powerful teams such as Furia Esports and Cloud9. Team One and MIBR are both capable of causing an upset, but the main obstacle will be Gambit Esports. The Russian giants will be a difficult matchup, but if Na’Vi can pull off a win they’ll have a smooth ride to the top.
The team from Russia is in top shape. They are the winners of the most recent Intel Extreme Masters Season XV – World Championship tournament, and are currently placed as the nr. 2 team in the overall ESL World Ranking. Their first two matchups are scheduled against MIBR and Cloud9, which we believe they’ll win and secure a solid head start in Group C. The real test, however, will be the match against Natus Vincere on March 21st. Both teams really need this win to increase their odds of making it to the Play-In. Team One and FURIA could still mess up their plans if either of those pull an unexpected win, but even in the worst-case scenario Gambit would place 2nd-3rd and still advance to the Playoffs.
The French crew are at the top of their game. Situated in Group B, they’ve managed to dodge some of the top dogs, but they’ll still have to work their way through some of the veteran teams like G2, mousesports, Ninjas in Pyjamas and FaZe Clan. On paper, Team Vitality has a clear advantage and might be able to finish the group stage on the top spot. That being said, G2 will present a real threat, especially considering their solid performance in the recent Intel Extreme Masters Season XV.
The German esports organisation BIG will be competing in Group A, which is arguably the weakest one of the four groups. In terms of team power, almost every team in this group is on an equal playing ground, except maybe FunPlus Phoenix and OG, who are both still fresh to the CS:GO scene. BIG have enough experience under their belt to win the group stage, but they’ll have to be careful as Heroic and Complexity are both teams they cannot underestimate. BIG faced Heroic in the recent Intel Extreme Masters Season XV and lost, so hopefully they’ve learned from their experience and can use that knowledge to gain an edge in the upcoming matchup.