NAVI, Fnatic and FaZe Clan are favorites, but is it only on paper?

The ESL Pro League Season 18 is in full swing and we are now mid-way through the group stages. Group C features a mix of heavyweights and a few underdogs and should make for an exciting series of matches. While the favorites are clear, any upset would be a massive one for this group. Here’s our short preview on this group which kicks off on September 13 and runs through till September 17, 2023.

ESL Pro League Season 18 Group C Preview

Participating teams:

  • FaZe Clan
  • 9Z team
  • Imperial Esports
  • Fnatic
  • Apeks
  • M80
  • 5yclone
  • Natus Vincere

Clearly, the overwhelming favorites from this group are the likes of FaZe Clan, Natus Vincere, and Fnatic. However, neither of these three teams has had successful results in the recent past. 

Will the 5Cylone upset NAVI?

Image Credit: ESL
Image Credit: ESL

Despite featuring some of the biggest names in Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Natus Vincere has been unable to crack the top four in the last two events. Their performance at the Paris Major also left a lot of their fans with disappointment and yearnings for better results. Unfortunately, they were let down yet again in the next two events - the IEM Cologne 2023 as well as the Gamers8 2023. 

Chinese organization, 5yclone, will be the first opponents, going up against S1mple and co. However, their lack of experience and international matches is sure to be their biggest obstacle in an attempt to take down NAVI.

This group might just as well be the perfect experience for NAVI to build momentum going into the playoffs and later stages of this event. Their performance has been underwhelming in the past few months, but with enough warmup and momentum, they surely can bring back some of their lost form

FaZe Up against 9z

FaZe are one of the favorites for ESL Pro League Group C. Image Credit: ESL
FaZe are one of the favorites for ESL Pro League Group C. Image Credit: ESL

FaZe Clan lost to NAVI at IEM Cologne 2023 finishing in the 9-12th place. The team has mostly struggled in the last few months after making changes to their coaching position. Long-time FaZe coach, RobbaN parted ways with the team in July, replaced by NEO. Even as NEO adjusts to the new meta and the challenges of coaching a brand new team, the org has signed Lucid to help him in the analyst position.

FaZe Clan finished very low in the standings at both IEM Cologne 2023 as well as Gamers8. There are not many high expectations from the team at this event. However, with the quality of opposition in the group stage, FaZe should have a relatively easier time getting out of the first phase of the event.

FaZe go up against Argentinian-majority 9z roster. The team has not had much experience when it comes to Tier 1 events. In their region, however, 9z has been a force to be reckoned with winning the majority of regional tournaments. Will that stand up to the experience and the superior firepower (on paper) of a team such as FaZe Clan? We can only wait and find out. 

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