ESL Road to Rio – European Playoffs – May 13, 2020

     The upper bracket for the European Playoffs kicks off tomorrow with two matches featuring some of the heavyweights in the counter strike scene. We’ll get started with NiP taking on FaZe at 10:30am (EST) and then finish with Astralis taking on G2 starting at 2:00pm. Tuesday was a tough start to the playoffs for me as I finished the day 0-3 for a loss of 3.5 units. Although the end result wasn’t there, the only bet I regret making was on Godsent ML. Godsent surely looked out classed, but if not for a slow start they would have won the first map. That most likely would have been enough to secure the over. North also took an L to heretics but I feel I was still on the right side in terms of value. North made the match extremely competitive which made them a very live dog, but in the end came up just short losing 16-14 and 16-13. I’ll be looking to make a couple units back on the super series ahead of us.

Ninjas in Pajamas (+125) vs FaZe (-155) – 10:30am EST

      The upper bracket gets started with what bookmakers believe to be a closely contested match featuring Nip and FaZe. FaZe comes into this one as a short favorite (-155) after dominating Group B, posting a perfect 7-0 record. NiP will be the second seed representing Group A after posting a 6-1 record with their only loss coming to Astralis. Each of these teams come into this match in great form, but I believe NiP was tested a bit more throughout group play. I’m a little bit surprised by the odds for this match. I expected FaZe to be closer to -200, especially considering their name carries so much weight in the public. With that being said, let’s dive in to the breakdown to find some value in what should be a great match.

     These teams come into the one having matched up in two best of three series over the past six months. FaZe won the most recent meeting, winning on Mirage 16-8 and Overpass 16-7. NiP took the meeting prior to that one, winning 16-7 on Mirage and 16-13 on Vertigo. NiP will make the first ban since they are the lower seeded team. They should stick to their bread and butter which is banning Dust2. FaZe should also stick to their guns and continue to ban Vertigo. This hurts NiP a ton as Vertigo is clearly their best map. They can even make the argument that they are the best Vertigo team. Regardless, NiP should default to their second map choice in Overpass. NiP was untouchable on Overpass at the ESL Pro League posting a perfect 4-0 record without letting their opponent score double digits in any of those wins. They’ll be looking to get back to that form as they haven’t been nearly as dominant there in Rio. FaZe will be able to use their best map as their first pick. They come into this meeting on an 8 game win streak on Mirage and will look to extend that to 9. Although NiP doesn’t post the best record on Mirage, they should be able to be competitive considering they’ve beaten FaZe there before. They also got a win over Fnatic on Mirage during group play. NiP should use their second ban on Nuke which will give FaZe the choice between playing Train or Inferno. FaZe has looked good on train, but I expect them to pick Inferno. Train is very CT sided and I don’t think they will want to risk starting on the T side. Inferno will certainly give us a highly competitive tie breaker should it get there.

     This is an extremely difficult match to pick a side on. I would have to give FaZe a slight edge in the map pool since they’ll be able to play their bread and butter in Mirage. I think NiP has the edge in form. Group B was a very disappointing bunch and I don’t think FaZe was really tested. Group A on the other hand was extremely competitive and NiP consistently stepped up to get it done on tie breaking maps. They played great team counter strike where as FaZe was able to out duel all of their opponents. I won’t be making a play on either side right now. I expect to see some steam on FaZe before the match starts due to their name. Everybody loves the FaZe clan! I would make a contrarian play on NiP if their line moves past +140, ideally +150. The only play I’m making until then will be on the over 2.5 maps. I think this play offers good value at plus money! 

Miner’s Money Pick: Total Maps o2.5 (+115) & NiP (+151)

 

Astralis (-235) vs G2 (+185) – 2:00pm EST

     The second playoff match of the day features two top-5 teams in Counter Strike. Astralis comes into this match representing group A as the one seed with a 6-1 record in group play. Their only loss came from Fnatic in the form of a 2-1. After suffering the loss they rattled off 5 straight wins to close out group play. G2 didn’t quite look like their usual self in group play. They posted a 4-3 record, but secured the second seed due to tie breakers. They lost to FaZe, Mouse and North in group play. It’s worth noting that North was playing with a coach and Mouse looked like a shell of themself in group play. Mouse finished group play with a 3-4 record but placed second to last! The form of G2 is certainly questionable coming into this one.

      These teams have met in two best of three series prior to this one. Astralis won each of those series, although each map was very tightly contested. At the DreamHack Masters in October Astralis beat G2 on Nuke by a score of 19-16 and Dust2 16-7. The next meeting came in the finals of ESL Pro League 10. G2 won the first map, Dust2, by a score of 16-13. Astralis took the next two maps in order to win the series. It took them an overtime win on Inferno and a 16-14 win on Train to do so. As for this matchup, I expect G2 to use the first ban on Overpass. Astralis will then use their first ban on Mirage. This will allow G2 to go their usual first pick in Dust2, but I think they may stray away from that. Astralis is a perfect 3-0 on Dust2 in Rio and 8-4 there over the past three months. They’ve also been able to beat G2 there in the past. I think G2’s best move would be to pick Vertigo. They are a perfect 7-0 there over the past three months and Astralis has far less experience playing there compared to Dust2. Astralis tends to pick Nuke as their first map but may shy away from that to pick Inferno. They’ve won 6 straight on inferno but G2 has also performed well there. The only liability that comes with them picking Nuke is that they would be forced to start on the T side. G2 should use their second ban on either Inferno/Nuke depending on the Astralis pick. Astralis will then have the ability to chose between having Train or Dust2/Vertigo as the deciding map. I expect them to play Dust2 if it’s that or Train, but if it’s between Train and Vertigo I would expect to see Train.

      The way the map pool shapes up will certainly effect the size of my play and I plan on waiting to see how that plays out before I make a play. Regardless I’m going to be on Astralis in this one. They’ve been the most dominant team in Rio. I mean you can make the argument that FaZe had the better record, but I’m talking quality of play. Astralis has been extremely impressive, whereas G2 hasn’t looked like themself. With that being said, G2 has big time players that are certainly capable of making big time plays in big time matches such as this one. That makes me uncomfortable laying the -1.5 with Astralis as G2 may be able to steal a map. I will most likely make a small investment on Astralis to start and look to get more money in on them at a better price in a live spot. *UPDATE*: The Astralis play came in for 1 unit at -235, but I may look for another unit at a discount live.

Miner’s Money Pick: Astralis (-235) 

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