ESL Pro League rolls along Thursday, with 3 more EU games and 1 NA. The games are:
Spirit (52% implied win probability) vs Fnatic
Astralis (57%) vs Complexity
G2 (69%) vs Godsent
GenG (74%) vs Triumph
Note that Triumph have replaced Spongey with Ryann. I don’t think this change will make much of a difference for them overall, Spongey has struggled greatly recently and Ryann also struggled on the last team he was on (Envy), but I’m noting it because Draftkings still has Spongey in the pool and no Ryann. If you’re brave enough to play a Triumph make sure you do not play Spongey.
Pricing on this slate is very loose. Only G2 are really priced up as a team, all of the other favorites are relatively cheap. I know I probably sound like a broken record saying this, but this means that underdogs are likely to go underowned. There’s no need to go to them for salary relief, so most people simply won’t, even though there are several with a good chance to get the win. I almost always end up over the field on underdogs in these situations, and Thursday should be no different.
Gen.G in particular are underpriced. They are facing a Triumph team that has really struggled of late, and just made yet another roster change (now up to 3/5 players being new in the last couple months). This is basically a whole new team from the one Grim was playing on. Unfortunately for Triumph, the changes haven’t exactly been upgrades. I actually think their 24% implied win probability is too generous, it should be more like 10-15%. Meanwhile, Gen.G has Automatic priced at $8.2k, Koosta at $7.8k, and BnTet at $7.6k. I expect all 3 of these players to be popular, but I’ll probably still be coming in over the field on them. They could see their ownership held down slightly lower than it should be because no one on Gen.G has good stats in the recent months, thus causing their projections to crater. If you look at who they’ve played recently though, it’s a who’s who of NA CounterStrike. Gen.G has only won 35% of the maps they’ve played in recent months, of course their stats aren’t great. This version of Triumph are by far the weakest team they’ve played since at least June, where their 3 month stats cut off (shoutout to Jordan and Ian J for the excellent discussion on this point in the discord).
I won’t be playing any Triumph Thursday. I agree with Vegas that they have the least chance on the slate to win, and you really don’t need to dig that deep for value with the soft pricing.
Astralis and Spirit are also both in the same general price range as Gen.G (hopefully this also helps keep Gen.G ownership low) as favorites. Let’s dive into the Astralis game first.
Last time Astralis were on the slate, I mention how Es3tag was overpriced, but that he was also better than what his stats showed since it was a very limited sample size of 2 matches and was therefore a good GPP play. He proceeded to go out and put up a massive score even though Astralis got swept. Funny enough, since that only brought his sample size in the last 3 months up to 3 matches, he now has the exact opposite problem with his projections. He has the 2nd highest fantasy points per round in the last 3 months on the entire slate, trailing only BlameF. He’s still priced as the most expensive player on Astralis, but is now likely to garner plenty of ownership. For that reason, I plan on fading him on Thursday. I’ll have plenty of Device, mixing him with some of the 3 remaining players as all 5 Astralis players have strong fragging ability.
All that said, I’ll actually be more heavily on the other side of this matchup. BlameF is the most expensive player ($9.6k) on the slate even though he’s an underdog. I expect that this will leave his ownership suppressed. All of his teammates are priced at $7.0k or lower, so it’s no cost prohibitive to play a 2 stack. Hodge must be rubbing off on me, but I think this Col team is just as good as if not better than this current version of Astralis. Either way, I expect ownership to be far more tilted towards Astralis than it should be, so I love me some Col on Thursday. My preferred partners to go with BlameF are oBo and poizon, but I don’t mind Konfig either.
Spirit are the slightest of favorites against Fnatic, a sentence which I would have told you was insane just a few months ago. Fnatic have really struggled of late, but if you look at their losses, it’s all been to top tier teams (with maybe the exception of Godsent if you want to split hairs). The question becomes, is Spirit a top tier team? They did beat Fnatic 2-0 back in May, crushing them on Nuke before just squeaking out a win on Inferno, but most of their recent winning has come against T2 competition. I’ll definitely have some Spirit, but I’ll also probably have more Fnatic than the field. From Spirit, Mir is the primary target, with iDisbalance right behind him. I’ll mix in a little sdy, but it will be mostly those 1st two for me. For Fnatic, I’m only interested in Brollan and Krimz.
G2 have been winning recently, but it sure hasn’t been pretty. It’s pretty much been the Nexa show of late, as Hunter and KennyS have really dropped off in terms of fantasy scoring of late. KennyS is now actually below Jackz in fp/r since the player break ended and Hunter is barely ahead. Nexa will be my primary target here, and I’ll mix in a little bit of those 3 if I decide to stack G2.
Yet again, I actually like the underdog side of this game better. Godsent looked a bit rusty against Navi the other day, but when S1mple is on he can make any team look bad. They played a tight game on Nuke before getting dumpstered on Dust 2. However, this is still a really talented team. All 4 of Zehn, Maden, Styko, and Farlig are talented fraggers, and Krystal is an excellent IGL. I think these odds are selling them a bit short and will again be over the field here.
My favorite captain on the slate is BlameF. I already mentioned I think he is going to go underowned, I could very easily see him coming in under 20%. That’s his overall ownership. His captain ownership should come in under 5%. BlameF averages .81 fp/r over the last 3 months, best on the slate and near the top of anyone in the world. Any time I can get the best fantasy player on the slate at the low ownership and decent odds his team wins, sign me up.
On the other side of that matchup, I’ll mostly focus on Device if I run any Astralis captain lineups.
From Gen.G, I’ll have a mix of BnTeT, Koosta, and Automatic, prioritized in that order. I don’t think any of them will have crazy ownership, they are my 2nd favorite play as a team to take a captain from.
From Spirit, I’ll use mostly Mir with a little iDisbalance, and from Fnatic it’s Brollan or bust for me Thursday.
Nexa is the only captain I’m interested in from G2 right now, while on Godsent everyone except for Krystal is viable. I’ll mostly be on Zehn and Maden, but I’ll definitely mix in a little Farlig. He hasn’t really gone nuts on his awp at all recently, but the potential is definitely there.
Good luck on Thursday!