The Playoff Stage of ESL Pro League Season 17 is fast approaching, as the final team in the Group Stage, Group D, gets ready to step into the spotlight later today.
ESL Pro League Season 17: Group D Upper Bracket Quarterfinals schedule and betting odds
The Group D action will run from today (March 15) until the Upper, Mid and Lower Bracket Finals on March 19. And those four short days will dictate which of the eight Group D teams will make it through to the Playoffs, with only four teams having the opportunity to make it to the end of the Group Stage.
Each team competing in ESL Pro League Season 17 is fighting it out for their share of the $850,000 prize pool, with the ultimate winner receiving $200,000, alongside an invitation to both IEM Cologne 2023 and the BLAST World Final 2023.
As an arguably lesser-known team, forZe may seem to be a little outclassed here. Still, the Russian team earned their spot at this month's tournament through an impressive record at the European Conference, where they placed in third place - just after Eternal Fire and SAW. Still, their previous record at high-stakes international tournaments leaves much to be desired, with the team having placed in 17th - 19th place at PGL Major Antwerp 2022. They'll be feeling the pressure to improve on that record, but things aren't looking hopeful for their debut match against NAVI.
NAVI, of course, requires no introduction. The Ukrainian superstar team has a well-deserved reputation as one of the strongest CS:GO teams in the world, with some truly spectacular performances in their recent history. With that said, 2022 was a relatively difficult year for the team, who failed to live up to the incredible success rate seen in their 2021 run. Naturally, the ongoing war in their home country has been an understandable distraction for the team, and no doubt has played a part in their relative decline last year. Still, NAVI's recent 3rd - 4th placement at IEM Katowice 2023 offers fans hope that they could find their way back to their glory days yet.
The odds are strongly in NAVI's favour here, at 1.08 vs forZe's 6.30.
Team Spirit are a promising contender at this month's tournament, having earned their spot through their ESL World Ranking, where they're sitting in an impressive 8th place, with 317 points. The team has had a fairly impressive 2023 run so far, having qualified for IEM Katowice (again through their ESL World Ranking), where they pulled off an impressive series of victories in the Play-Off Stage. While they were ultimately eliminated during the Group Stage by Team Liquid, it was nonetheless a promising start to the year, with their fans having high hopes for their performance later today.
The last time we saw Astralis at a high-stakes tournament was back in January, when they placed in a respectable 4th-6th place at BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2023, earning an invitation to the upcoming Spring Final taking place in June. Despite the long-awaited return of superstar player Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz, Astralis is still yet to live up to their former glories, with the team having once been a real force to be reckoned with from 2018-2020. After so long away from the CS:GO scene, dev1ce has no doubt needed time to get back on top form - but will he be ready to help carry his team to victory later today?
The odds are in Astralis' favour here, at 1.55 vs Team Spirit's 2.30.
Team Liquid are naturally one of the favourites to make it through the Playoffs, and indeed have a strong chance of making it to the Grand Final on March 26. They've earned that reputation through an impressive run through recent international tournaments, having just recently placed in 3rd - 4th place at IEM Katowice 2023. And despite a disappointing 10th - 12th at BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2023, Liquid have otherwise been playing well - with recent highlights including a second-place result at both the BLAST Premier: World Final 2022 and ESL Pro League Season 16.
Rare Atom, meanwhile, don't have nearly the same kind of high profile as Team Liquid. The majority Chinese team is rarely seen at international events but has had an incredible 2023 run at regional tournaments so far - having emerged victorious at Perfect World Arena Premier League Season 3. They've been doing an excellent job of qualifying for several international tournaments too - having qualified for ESL Pro League Season 17 through their first-place victory at the Asian Conference.
As you'd perhaps expect, Team Liquid are heavily favoured to win here - with odds of 1.04 vs Rare Atom's 8.00.
ATK are another rare face at international tournaments, having earned their spot at ESL Pro League Season 17 through their first-place victory at the North American Conference, emerging victorious over fellow Season 17 competitors MIBR, who were eliminated from the tournament during the Group A matches. They've had somewhat less success elsewhere in the year however, having failed to qualify for IEM Rio 2023, and have been similarly frustrated in their attempts to qualify for the upcoming BLAST.tv Paris Major.
Meanwhile, ENCE have had something of a rough start to the 2023 season. Their 17th - 20th placement at IEM Katowice 2023 hardly inspired hope for their performance this year - With the team having failed to make it through the Play-In stage, after being eliminated from the tournament by Complexity Gaming. Their run at ESL Pro League Season 16 wasn't any more impressive either, having finished in 17th - 20th place. It remains to be seen if they can improve on that record - but things are at least looking good for their debut match against ATK.
The odds are heavily in ENCE's favour here, at 1.05 vs ATK's 7.50.
The Group Stage is nearly over - which Group D teams do you think will make it through to the Playoffs? Whoever you choose to support, make sure to keep on top of ESL Pro League Season 17 via our upcoming match schedule. And while you're at it, why not sign up to claim your free 100% bonus?