The biggest CSGO tournament of the year, the PGL Major, is now into the knockout stage -and biggest is the most appropriate way to sum up the tournament so far.
After some controversy around the German side BIG's crouch-jumping, they proved that they are not solely reliant on an exploit with their victory over world number one SK Gaming.
The legends have been established and big names such as FaZe, G2 and Cloud9 will have to compete as challengers next time around. We take a look at the quarter finals, and if you fancy a flutter, you can find a full list of CSGO betting sites from which to choose from.
Gambit vs Fnatic (July 21st, 1pm CEST)
It is a no-brainer for Gambit to ban Mirage, which is their weakest map and Fnatic's best. This should mean that Fnatic picks Inferno, as they did at DreamHack Open a month ago, which they won in overtime.
Gambit are playing at a considerably higher level than they were then, but so are Fnatic. The Swedes' Inferno form is inconsistent, whilst aside from their two losses on it to Fnatic, Gambit's is very good, with victories over SK Gaming, Immortals and OpTic. The first two of those sides are teams that Fnatic has lost to on Inferno. This is a map which could go either way.
Both teams share some of their weakest maps: Cache and Nuke. Further, Fnatic are weak on Cobble and Gambit are relatively strong, and as it is the map Fnatic banned at DreamHack, they likely will do the same again.
There are many different ways Gambit could take the veto from here. On paper, they should go for Train, as they did at DreamHack, but they lost 16-12 that day. Gambit would go into Train as favourites given both teams' overall form but that loss will weigh on their minds.
Fnatic showed enough on Nuke against Astralis for that to be too big a risk as Gambit's pick, and as they banned Cache in the second phase last time they met that is also unlikely. This means their alternative is Overpass, which was Fnatic's second ban.
Gambit demolished Fnatic on Overpass at the ELEAGUE Major in January but their form since has been shaky. Fnatic's win over G2 on it the other day will likely see Gambit plump for Train.
For the deciding map, Gambit will have the edge. They are also favoured on Overpass, and if they choose to play Cache it will be because they know they have an advantage, which is likely given their decimation of G2 on it.
Fnatic are likely to remove Nuke and at worst, that map could go either way. Gambit will have the edge on two of the three maps, and Inferno is one where they could surprise. A 2-1 Gambit correct score bet is available with Betway Esports at odds of 12/5.
Astralis vs SK Gaming (July 21st, 4.30pm CEST)
These two teams have played seven maps against each other in 2017 and SK Gaming have been triumphant on five of them. The two teams played on day two of the PGL Major and Marcelo "coldzera" David put up one of the finest performances ever seen at a Major as Astralis were annihilated.
coldzera was the catalyst for one of the most impressive T-halves that has been seen on the map, and along with Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, SK have the best duo in Counter-Strike. They will lead them to victory in this game.
As always, Astralis will remove Cobblestone and SK will remove Nuke - it was only the other way around in their last match to show that gentlemen's agreements can be honoured in CS:GO. Once again, Astralis will pick Overpass. They won 16-12 on it at ECS Season 3 Finals and not much has changed since then.
It will depend which SK Gaming shows up as to whether they can secure a 2-0 series win or whether a third map will be required, as their performances have been very hit and miss on the map. They brushed aside FaZe at ESL One Cologne, but given FaZe's failure at the Major, that form cannot be held in too high regard.
SK will select Mirage or Cache, before Astralis bans the other. Traditionally, SK would have favoured Mirage, but Astralis managed 14 rounds against them when they last met on it, and SK have developed their Cache game significantly.
If SK picks Cache, as we expect, they should be bet on the handicap to win that map, as a 16-13 or better scoreline is all but guaranteed. Astralis are weak on the map and have not played it since April.
Whilst there is a slim chance they have practiced it and are looking to bait an SK into picking it, it is very difficult to hide practicing a map and it is more likely that they would have allowed it to be played in the group stage or at a previous event if that were the case.
Performing well on the map against another opponent would have gained them veto power, whereas now they will be playing an unfavoured map regardless.
The final map will be Inferno again, if Astralis are sensible. SK will ban Train so going for Mirage or Cache would be short-sighted.
Astralis will have to hope that coldzera's performance was a fluke, and that is unlikely. The Brazilians will advance to the final but the best bet is for them to take Cache with a one-sided scoreline.
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