ESL Pro League Season 18 - 9z book spot in event
by Jur Dava in
eSport Betting Predictions

ESL Pro League Season 18 kicks off on Wednesday, August 30, in Saint Julian’s, Malta. The event will welcome 32 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams fighting for the lion’s share of the US$850,000 prize pool and direct invites to BLAST World Final 2023 and IEM Katowice 2024.

The tournament will run for just over one month, culminating with the grand final on October 1, and it’ll mark the final ESL Pro League season played on CS:GO before the scene transitions to Counter-Strike 2.

Here is our ESL Pro League Season 18 betting preview and outright picks, with odds courtesy of top CS:GO esports bookmakers.

ESL Pro League Season 18 format

ESL Pro League Season 18 will run from August 30 until October 1, starting with the group stage, dividing 32 participants into four triple-elimination groups of eight. All games are best-of-three (Bo3), with the top four teams advancing into the playoffs.

Playoff seeding:

  • Group winners advance to quarterfinals
  • Group runners-up advance to round of 12 as high seeds
  • Third-placed teams advance to round of 16 as high seeds
  • Fourth-placed teams advance to round of 16 as low seeds

The playoffs will use a single-elimination bracket with all matches, except for the grand final, played as best-of-three (Bo3). The final is a best-of-five (Bo5).

ESL Pro League Season 18 groups overview

At first glance, the ESL Pro League S18 groups look fairly balanced. However, while each group has a couple of solid favourites, a few underdogs and complete outsiders, there are a few excellent betting opportunities we can explore.

Group A

  • Group odds at BetOnline:
  • Team Vitality +100
  • Astralis +400
  • FURIA +700
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas +700
  • GamerLegion +800
  • Movistar Riders +1100
  • Grayhound +2500
  • ORKS +7000

Group A looks very straightforward because there doesn’t seem to be a single team capable of spoiling Team Vitality’s fun. The Bees are in exceptional form, and even though they slipped at Intel Extreme Masters Cologne 2023 at the start of the month, they quickly got back on their feet by winning Gamers8 last week.

The raw firepower Team Vitality bring is enough to confidently say they’ll reach at least the semifinals in Malta. Even at +100 to win the group, Team Vitality are an excellent bet.

Astralis, who are +400 second favourites to win the group, can impress, but the Danes are still learning how to play with new players. On the other side, Ninjas in Pyjamas (+700) have not looked good lately, and the rest of the teams are either weak, in poor form, or both.

Group B

  • Group odds at BetOnline:
  • ENCE +150
  • Heroic +150
  • MOUZ +500
  • Monte +900
  • BIG +1400
  • MiBR +2500
  • Evil Geniuses +5000
  • Rooster +25000

ENCE and Heroic are joint favourites at +150 apiece to win the group, and it is hard to see either of them finishing outside the top two.

MOUZ are priced as third favourites at +500, and while they might be able to take maps off the two top dogs, the quality gap between Heroic and ENCE and the rest of the group is large enough to feel confident that the two will meet in the group finals.

However, of the two favourites, ENCE are more likely to win the group. Heroic are undeniably one of the best CS:GO teams in the world, but recently, ENCE have been playing better, and they beat Heroic at the start of August in the Gamers8 2023 semifinals.

Group C

  • Group odds at BetOnline:
  • FaZe Clan +110
  • Natus Vincere +137
  • Fnatic +750
  • Apeks +900
  • 9z Team +2500
  • Imperial Esports +3300
  • M80 +6600
  • 5yclone +10000

Of the four ESL Pro League Season 18 Groups, Group C is the least predictable. Esports betting sites have FaZe Clan (+110) and Natus Vincere (+137) priced as the favourites to win, followed by Fnatic (+750) and Apeks (+900).

These betting odds would make sense for those who’ve not been following CS:GO for a few months; however, FaZe and Natus Vincere are not nearly as good as they were early this season.

FaZe are in complete disarray, and their recent two tournament placements are evidence enough. NAVI have not looked good recently either, likely due to the abrupt switch to an international roster.

From a betting perspective, backing Fnatic to win Group C makes the most sense. The Black & Orange haven’t looked amazing with their new lineup, but this is still a decent team that should be able to take advantage of NAVI and FaZe Clan’s downfall.

The same could be said for Apeks, but Damjan “kyxsan” Stoilkovski and co. have produced a few too many concerning results against weaker squads lately.

Group D

  • Group odds at BetOnline:
  • G2 Esports +162
  • Cloud9 +175
  • +450
  • Team Liquid +900
  • Eternal Fire +1400
  • 9INE +1800
  • Complexity +2000
  • Lynn Vision +25000

G2 Esports won IEM Cologne 2023 at the start of the month and last week added a top-four finish at Gamers8 2023. But they have also produced some concerning results since the summer break and were a bit lucky to end those two tournaments so high, so they are hardly secure favourites at +162 to win the group.

Cloud9 (+175) have yet to find any traction with their new roster. They placed fifth-sixth at IEM Cologne 2023 and last week crashed out of Gamers8 2023 in fifth-eight.

In their defence, Gamers8 2023 was Cloud9’s first tournament with the whole squad, and they only lost against eventual finalists ENCE. So even though it’s tough to find a good reason to support Cloud9 purely from their recent tournament placements, this is still one of the world’s most stacked CS:GO rosters. (+450) are a sneakily good team and live outsiders to win Group D. They’ve not played many games against top teams since the summer break, but still looked surprisingly good at Gamers8 2023.

ESL Pro League Season 18 betting predictions

Now that most teams are settled in with their new rosters and have shaken off the rust accumulated over the summer break, there are no more excuses not to perform. That doesn’t mean ESL Pro League Season 18 will be without upsets, and of the four groups, Group D seems most likely to produce a few shock results.

On the outright winner market, we have three teams priced at +350 odds to claim the title. ENCE have a lot more to prove, and G2 Esports haven’t been the most consistent in their games, leaving us with Team Vitality as the most likely ESL Pro League Season 18 champions.

Outright winner – Team Vitality


Group A winner – Team Vitality


Group C winner – Fnatic


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