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ESL Pro League Season 7 Preview


8 February 2018 13:36

The ESL Pro League returns for its seventh season in 2018, bringing another $125,000 of prize money for the season’s winners and $750,000 for those that go on to win the final. All 12 teams that featured in last year’s final are returning this year for another crack at the title, whilst SK Gaming will look to repeat as champions.

The Format

The season is split into two regions, as nearly all eSports are, with Europe and North America both having a league of 14 teams, with 11 of those teams being the top 11 from last year who all automatically gain re-entry into the league. The team that came top in the ESEA Premier advance straight into the Pro League, whilst the other teams that came towards the top in ESEA Premier play the 12th and 13th place teams from the Pro League season to see who goes to the Pro League and who is sent back to the ESEA Premier.

The tournament is held from Tuesday 13th February all the way to Thursday 26th April. Teams compete in consecutive Bo1 matches and winners take 3pts if done so in regulation, but winning in overtime scores you 2pts and the losers take 1pt. Like previous years, the top six placed teams advance to the offline finals where Europe and North America go head-to-head, whilst the top 11 stay in the league for next season, and 12th and 13th place go to the relegation battle. The team that comes in 14th place is automatically relegated to ESEA Premier.

Europe

In season six both Fnatic and North went 18-8 to top the league, but Fnatic gained the title of first place from a better map win-loss ratio, with FaZe Clan, Astralis, Ninjas in Pyjamas and HellRaisers rounding off the top six. At the offline finals, however, Fnatic were beaten by FaZe Clan in the semi-finals, but then went on to lose to North American team SK Gaming.

This ultimately means that the European season is wide open again this year, but FaZe Clan have to come in as favourites. The multi-national team came second at the ELEAGUE Major in Boston in January, also winning three premier events in 2017. Fnatic, on the other hand, had a torrid time in Boston and only won one event in 2017. Can the team bounce back and be competitive again? North, competing in cs_summit 2 just before the season starts, don’t seem to be on the same kind of form they were last year.

Elsewhere, AGO eSports will attract a lot of attention, the team that came through automatic promotion from ESEA Premier. The team from Poland have enjoyed huge success in Minor tournaments and have finally started to perform well at Major tournaments, so can they go one step further at a premier?

North America

All eyes will be on Cloud9 and SK Gaming in North America. Cloud9 recently won 2018’s first Premier event at The Boston Major, so will look to continue that form through the year after a quick tournament at cs_summit 2. SK Gaming will try to be back to defend their Pro League title after it was Cloud9 that knocked them out the semi’s in Boston to throw fuel onto their blossoming rivalry.

OpTic Gaming should also be a team to watch out for after they topped the Pro League season standings last year at 20-6 but fell early in the offline finals. The team hasn’t competed yet properly in 2018 so come in as an unknown quantity. Can that benefit them? Or will the lack of preparation hurt them?

Betting

Betting on the overall outcome of the season isn’t offered, but bookies will likely begin to offer round-by-round matches once the season begins on Tuesday 13th February. Once the season has finished and the finals are underway, then you will be able to bet on the winners of the offline finals.

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Updated on: 2018-02-08

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