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Who Will Come Out Victorious At ESL Pro League Season 18?

Counter-Strike eSports is rightly considered one of the world’s top professional video gaming markets. Although other games like League Of Legends and Dota 2 might lay claim to being the biggest names in eSports, Counter-Strike has such a broad range of professional video gaming available, ranging from smaller prize money to multi-million dollar prize pools, that it drives a lot of the popularity in first-person shooter games and helps to validate the existence of this genre as a viable eSports tournament.

This year’s ESL Pro League takes place in Malta, which isn’t a conventional choice for eSports games. However, over the last decade, top Counter-Strike eSports tournaments have taken place in dozens of locations, helping to highlight the variety of countries that enjoy eSports and how video gaming can span different language barriers and cultures. As 32 of the world’s best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) teams go head to head in Malta, we’ll be breaking down who we think has the best chance of winning Season 18 of this revered eSports tournament, and the chances of other teams potentially causing an upset.

Team Vitality – Proven & Consistent?

Vitality isn’t the only team in this year’s ESL who have shown that they can operate at their highest capacity when it truly matters. Vitality is considered the top Counter-Strike team in 2023 and has unparalleled consistency and skill. Although other teams like ENCE and G2 will run them close, you’d have to say that Vitality is the team to beat, and the betting odds also seem to be of this opinion. One of the many positive components of eSports is that many of these tournaments are not foregone conclusions, which is again reflected in the gambling odds.

Unlike professional sports, where some matchups and tournaments can be reasonably easy to predict and bet on, it’s not uncommon for teams to emerge from the fringes of tournaments with long betting odds and surprise everybody. You don’t just have outright markets to bet on, either; you can bet on CSGO matches across other tournaments or explore derivative markets, like which player will be announced as the best individual performer. ESL Pro League could see a handful of elite Counter-Strike gamers emerge as the best player, but again, the bookmakers seem to believe that ZywOo, the world’s top CSGO player, will be one of the key reasons why Vitality end up on top. However, you can combine betting markets if you think he will win the best player award, and Vitality could win the tournament outright, so there are a lot of potential gambling markets to explore at this year’s ESL Pro League.

Potential Upsets?

G2 and ENCE are second and third in the rankings, respectively, so the idea that they could pip Vitality to the win isn’t the most outlandish statement. Both teams have enough talent to win ESL Pro League Season 18 but must operate on full cylinders to put themselves in with a chance. If Vitality cannot finish top of the pile, we’d say either of these two teams will take advantage of their dip.

One team that is starting to generate a bit of interest and could cause a genuine upset is Monte.

The Ukrainian-based squad is now ranked 10th, which is a career-high. In the build-up to the ESL Pro League, they have defeated Vitality 2-0 and are enjoying an excellent run of form. While it’s unlikely they’ll be able to replicate this form to win the ESL Pro League, it speaks to the standard of the competition. It explains why so many people are still gripped by a competition that has continued to pioneer and innovate over the last decade.


In 2012, when Valve revamped Counter-Strike, the initial optimism was replaced by amazement as it surpassed Call Of Duty in eSports, despite the immense sales figures of Activision’s game, and over the last few years, it has continued to cement its place as the premium first-person shooter game.

The combined prize money on offer in Counter-Strike eSports is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It is expected to continue to grow following the news that some of the world’s wealthiest Saudi investors are looking to bring the most popular eSports leagues to their country, with rumors even suggesting that they’re looking to build an eSports city to house the world’s best players to the cost of around half a billion dollars.

If these plans come to fruition, who knows whether the future of ESL could be in the Middle East? It is a tournament that has consistently traveled worldwide, so if Saudi Arabian investors offer the most money, who is to say it could find a permanent home there? However, looking at a short time scale, with the final thoughts on this year’s ESL, we’d say Team Vitality will come out on top.

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