After more than a month of action, season 16 of Counter Strike: Global Offensive's ESL Pro League is set to conclude.
The event began with four groups of six teams with three sides advancing from each section to the knockout stage, which has taken place at the Salini Resort in Malta.
And on Sunday the champions of season 16 of the ESL Pro League will be crowned when North American giants Team Liquid lock horns with Team Vitality of France.
Vitality went into the knockout stage as winners of Group A, meaning they advanced directly to the quarter-finals, whereas Liquid had to battle through the round of 12 after placing third in Group D.
In the semi-finals, Liquid got the better of Cloud9, while Vitality progressed with victory over G2 Esports.
There is plenty riding on this final with the champions of the season set to scoop $175,000 - the runners-up will claim $70,000.
The champions will also book their spot in the BLAST World Final 2022, which takes place in Abu Dhabi in December, as well as in next season's IEM Katowice.
For CS:GO fans, it is a match not to be missed.
Team Liquid vs Team Vitality, ESL Pro League final
Salini Resort, Malta
11.00 ET, Sunday October 2nd 2022
|How to watch|
ESL Youtube and Twitch channels, bet365 Sports Live Streaming
Team Liquid +175, Team Vitality -250
While the odds favour Team Vitality, who have looked the better side at this event, those looking at the bigger picture may still be tempted by Team Liquid and there is an argument to be made for the North Americans heading into this final.
For starters, they are much higher in the HLTV world CS:GO rankings - they are third, while Team Vitality are tenth.
That suggests they are a more established team and, although neither side has lit up the world of CS:GO in 2022, Team Liquid enjoyed tournament success more recently, placing in the top three at the BLAST Premier Fall Groups.
French outfit Team Vitality, meanwhile, last impressed when placing second in the BLAST Premier Spring Finals back in June.
Team Liquid know they will be up against it in the final but they can take confidence from their recent experiences and it may not all be one-way traffic.
It is nonetheless hard to ignore the form shown by Team Vitality in season 16 of the ESL Pro League.
In season 15 earlier this year, Vitality could not even make it out of the group phase but led by world-class talent Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, they have been on a different level this time around.
In Group A, they won all five of their matches against Fnatic, Natus Vincere, Team Spirit, Ninjas In Pyjamas and Endpoint, barely breaking a sweat with a differential of +40.
They dropped only two maps in the process and consequently advanced directly to the quarter-finals, in which they faced Outsiders, who had finished third in Group B.
Vitality cruised to a 2-0 win in that one, winning on Mirage and Dust II, to set up a semi-final clash with red-hot G2 Esports. This was expected to be Vitality's toughest test yet and it is fair to say they passed with flying colours.
G2 Esports were imperious in the group stage, posting a 5-0 win-loss record and an eye-watering differential of +73 and they did manage to take Vitality to overtime on map two.
But with "ZywOo" posting 52 kills in the contest, Vitality showed their class and got the win and it is no surprise to see them rated odds-on to win this one.
A Vitality victory looks likely based on tournament form, but punters should not necessarily anticipate a clean sweep and it could be worth splitting stakes on a 3-1 win for Vitality at +240 and a 3-2 win at +333.
Their first knockout opponents Outsiders were unlikely to ever cause them problems, while they did not have things all their own way against G2 Esports, having been pushed close on the second map in particular.
Liquid, meanwhile, are an experienced unit and although they would have wanted more from their group campaign, they swatted aside a strong Fnatic team as well as two group winners in MOUZ and Cloud9 in their three knockout fixtures.
They come into this contest on a four-match winning sequence and should be fancied to win a map or two as season 16 of the ESL Pro League reaches its climax.
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