ESL Pro League Season 17 is well underway, with the Group A teams getting ready for a second day of world-class CS:GO gameplay.
ESL Pro League Season 17: February 23 Group A schedule and betting odds
Yesterday (February 22)'s opening matches are out of the way. As such, the Group A teams have been separated into round one of the Mid Bracket and the Upper Bracket Semifinals.
IHC Esports' unbelievable Cinderella story in Katowice has yet to re-materialize in this tournament. The Mongolian team faced a bruising loss to Outsiders in their ESL Pro League Season 17 debut, losing with a score of 2-0. That loss came through Outsider's 16-13 score on Inferno, followed by a 16-7 win on Overpass. The Russian team's victory was hardly unexpected, as IHC was facing steep odds in their February 22 match - but fans hoping for another spectacular upset win were no doubt disappointed regardless.
MIBR meanwhile similarly had a rough start to this month's tournament, losing their debut match to Fnatic with a score of 2-0. Fnatic had a fairly easy path to victory here, taking Ancient with a score of 16-7 and Overpass with a score of 16-12. As with IHC's showdown with Outsiders, this match also went as expected, with Fnatic having recently pulled off a much more impressive performance at IEM Katowice 2023, where MIBR ranked in 17th - 20th place.
This match looks like it'll be a close one, with the odds ever so slightly in MIBR's favour at 1.75 vs IHC's 1.95.
The other Mid Bracket match, also taking place at 11:30 AM GMT, will see Evil Geniuses going up against Eternal Fire.
Evil Geniuses is still struggling to turn things around, despite having recently promoted Jerric "wiz" Jiang from EG Black in the hopes of improving the team's performance. The team has had a rough start to the 2023 season, coming in joint last at both IEM Katowice 2023 and BLAST Premier Spring Groups - ranking in 21st - 24th and 10th - 12th place, respectively. Their February 22 match hardly gave fans much hope either, with Cloud9 absolutely dominating with a score of 2-0, with scores of 16-5 on Inferno and 16-4 on Mirage.
Eternal Fire meanwhile missed out on both IEM Katowice and BLAST Premier Spring Groups and has been busy competing in lower-profile tournaments so far this year. Still, their recent victory at the CCT Central Europe Malta Finals gave fans reasons to hope for a strong performance at ESL Pro League Season 17 - though that has yet to surface. Their February 22 match was yet another 2-0 loss, though they were perhaps facing insurmountable odds - Given that they were going up against the IEM Katowice champions G2 Esports. The Turkish team is likely to find that Evil Geniuses proves much less daunting a challenge in today's match.
And indeed the odds are in Eternal Fire's favour, at 1.22 vs Evil Geniuses' 3.80.
That's not all we have to look forward to, however! We're also going to be treated to the Upper Bracket Semifinals, where yesterday's winners are due to go head-to-head. The first Semifinal match is kicking off at 15:00 GMT when we'll see Outsiders going up against Fnatic.
Outsiders had a promising, if not unexpected start to the tournament through their victory over IHC Esports. The Russian team has something of a legacy to live up to, having ranked in 5th - 8th place at ESL Pro League Season 16. Of course, the highlight of Outsider's recent career is their victory at the IEM Rio Major in November 2022. Fans' expectations are understandably running high for their performance in this month's tournament, and so all eyes are on Outsiders here.
Fnatic's 2022 record isn't nearly as impressive as Outsider's, though that's no reason to write them off. The team had an impressive run through IEM Katowice 2023, ranking in 9th - 12th place by making it all the way through to the Group Stage. Fnatic ranked in 9th - 12th place at ESL Pro League Season 16, and the pressure is now on to see if they can improve on that record.
Outsiders are favoured to win here, with odds of 1.52 vs Fnatic's 2.35.
And that brings us to our final match of the day, where we'll see Cloud9 competing against G2 Esports.
Cloud9 had a fantastic debut to the tournament, having made quick work of Evil Geniuses in their February 22 match. It's a promising start, especially considering their relatively disappointing 13th - 16th ranking at IEM Katowice 2023. Still, this is the same team that claimed victory at IEM Dallas last year, so there's every reason to hope for a strong performance here.
Unfortunately for Cloud9, they're facing off against G2 Esports here. G2 are on a truly incredible run, having not only claimed victory at IEM Katowice 2023 but also closed out 2022 by being crowned champions of the BLAST Premier World Final. It's a truly daunting record to go up against, and Cloud9 will absolutely have their work cut out for them here.
The odds are, predictably, in G2's favour here - at 1.28 vs Cloud9's 3.30.
Who are you supporting? The month-long tournament has just begun, but that's no reason to miss even a moment. You can see the full upcoming match schedule right here, and make sure to sign up to claim your free 100% bonus!