Some upper-tier CS:GO action is finally coming our way in the new year at FunSpark ULTI Grand Final. The upper bracket quarters are scheduled to kick off on Tuesday with two top-10 teams in action.
We are finally going to see new rosters test out their cohesion after the off-season, and check out how the scene is developing in January. Here is a breakdown of all four fixtures along with potential winning selections for your bet slip should you feel so inclined.
Entropiq vs Ecstatic
World No. 9 Entropiq will begin their campaign in the quarters of the upper bracket against No. 20 Ecstatic as slight favorites. Entropiq have made rapid progress up the CS:GO rankings in the last few months of 2021, which resulted in a push up to the top 10 in the world.
However, in order to sustain that excellence, they will need to show up opponents that are not at the same level, like in this matchup against Ecstatic. Entropiq have sufficient offensive firepower, led by their two most effective long-range proponents in Forester and El1an.
Forester has been averaging 0.71 kills per round with 0.63 deaths while El1an has been adding 0.72 kills and 0.60 deaths per round. The effectiveness of both these players, coupled with their experience in maintaining a strong in-game economy, makes them serious challenges for Ecstatic. As a result, I would be backing Entropiq to win (x1.6).
Astralis vs K23
Former world No. 1 Astralis will face K23 in the second fixture. Astralis are now No. 8 in the world while K23 are outside the top 20, presently at 22 in the world. Astralis have overhauled their roster after the departure of Magisk, Dupreeh and Device. In their stead, K0nfig and BlameF have stood up with high kill rates.
In the last three months of CS:GO action, K0nfig has led the offensive production for Astralis with 0.77 kills per round. But he also has a high death rate, of 0.73 per round. BlameF, on the other hand, has provided strong value between offense and defense with 0.73 and 0.65 deaths per round. Astralis (x1.36) should be too strong for K23 in this matchup.
Fnatic vs BIG
Fnatic and BIG will face off in the blockbuster match of the round. However, FNC are reasonable favorites in sportsbooks across the world. There are only two ranking spots in between these two teams in the CS:GO rankings, with Fnatic currently at No. 12 and BIG at 15 in the world.
Fnatic will need their most experienced players performing this year in order to return to their peaks of 2021. Three players have averaged over 0.70 kills per round in the last three months of CS:GO action. Brollan has managed 0.71 kills, Mezii has equalled that tally while Smooya has led the offensive production, with 0.77 kills per round.
I am not confident in either team winning outright, hence, I would select the series going to 3 maps (x1.99) instead.
Gambit vs Extra Salt
The final upper bracket quarter is the biggest mismatch of the first round of these playoffs as world no. 2 Gambit Esports face No. 29 Extra Salt. Sh1ro has put thrown his hat in the ring for one of the best players in 2021 as he averaged a stunning 0.77 kills with just 0.55 deaths per round in the last three months of CS:GO action.
This should be a relatively comfortable cruise for Gambit Esports as they move to the semis of the upper bracket, where they could face a resurgent Entropiq team. That could be one to circle in your calendars also.
I fully expect Gambit to win this event with an undefeated run. The team has great cohesion and is famous for their dominance when playing online. With so many teams tweaking things around, there is no question the CIS squad is the outright choice for winning the entire event. I do hope however, that some challenge is presented to them and we can finally see some quality CSGO at the start of 2022.