The latest season of Counter Strike: Global Offensive's ESL Challenger League Europe is drawing to a close but there is the small matter of the Grand Final still to be played on Monday.
The final pits SAW of Portugal against an experienced Team Spirit outfit with the winners set to scoop $20,000 and book their place in season 17 of the ESL Pro League Conference, which gets underway in Malta in February.
It has been a long tournament, beginning in October with 24 teams competing in a double-elimination playoff bracket but only two teams now remain.
As the winners of the upper-bracket, SAW go into the Grand Final with a 1-0 lead already established but they are nonetheless +110 to come out on top with Team Spirit still fancied to take the title at -150.
The previous season of the ESL Challenger League Europe - season 42 - was won by 9INE, who defeated BLUEJAYS 3-2 in the final. SAW, meanwhile, had crashed out in the group phase with a 0-2 record, while Team Spirit were not even involved.
What: SAW v Team Spirit, ESL Challenger League Europe
When: Monday December 19th
How to watch: ESL Official Youtube channel
Odds: SAW +110, Team Spirit -150
At first glance, SAW will look like a value bet to many punters.
That is first and foremost because they go into the Grand Final contest against Team Spirit with a one-map advantage, while they were also the team to knock Spirit down to the competition's lower bracket, beating them 2-1 in the upper-bracket final, prevailing on Nuke and Overpass.
Indeed, SAW have looked pretty sharp in this season's ESL Challenger League Europe, winning all five of their matches with only one having been settled by a forfeit from the opposing side.
However, SAW are down in 33rd spot in the HLTV world CS:GO rankings, whereas Team Spirit are 11th and that edge in pedigree and experience could play into the thinking of some punters heading into this Grand Final.
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Team Spirit of Russia are one of the big names involved in the ESL Challenger Europe, having recently been involved in some high-profile events such as season 16 of the ESL Pro League.
They crashed out in the group stage of that event but did pick up wins over Endpoint and Ninjas in Pyjamas and, since entering the ESL Challenger Europe in the second round of the upper bracket, they have been pretty consistent.
Spirit defeated HEET and Sprout by 2-1 scorelines first of all before comfortably sweeping aside FTW 2-0 in the upper-bracket semi-finals.
The loss to SAW in the upper-bracket final was not ideal but they will be out for revenge and are most definitely not being written off.
Team Spirit have had a pretty solid 2022 and won a title as recently as October, coming out on top in the Flow FiReLEAGUE 2022 Global Finals.
They won their first two games at that event 2-0 before edging paiN Gaming 2-1 in the Grand Final.
In the summer, meanwhile, Team Spirit showed their class with a big performance at the PGL Major Antwerp.
The event was won by CS:GO juggernauts FaZe Clan, who defeated Natus Vincere 2-0 in the final.
But Spirit showed they could mix it with the best on that occasion, topping the standings in the Legends Stage of the tournament with three wins from three matches and a +20 round differential.
They then beat Brazilian big guns FURIA in the quarter-finals before losing to FaZe Clan in the last four.
That tournament performance did, however, demonstrate the level Team Spirit can play at and they can justify -150 odds against SAW in the ESL Challenger League Europe Grand Final.
They will be eager to put to bed their defeat in the upper-bracket final and, knowing they will be trailing by a map, they are worth backing at -225 to win map two.
But the best betting angle could be over 4.5 maps with Spirit looking to make a strong start but SAW equally capable of pushing them to their limits. That is available at +110.
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