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Esports: ESL Pro League Thursday match previews

Season 17 of the ESL Pro League is already more than halfway through its group stage and there is another triple-header of matches taking place on Thursday.

The S-Tier tournament taking place in Malta is the latest major event on the Counter Strike: Global Offensive calendar and began with 32 teams spread across four triple-elimination groups.

Only four teams progress from each section and Groups A and B have already concluded with Cloud9, Outsiders, G2 Esports and Fnatic advancing from the former and Heroic, MOUZ, FURIA and Movistar Riders progressing from the latter.

And it is now the turn of Group C, with all four of the upper-bracket quarter-finals having been played on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the group continues with upper-bracket semi-finals between FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas and OG and Team Vitality as well as a mid-bracket first-round contest between 00Nation and Grayhound.

Defending champs Vitality can show their class

WhatTeam Vitality v OG
When15:00, Thursday 9th March
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, ESL Twitch & Youtube channels
OddsTeam Vitality 1/4, OG 11/4

Team Vitality barely broke a sweat in their first match in the latest season of the ESL Pro League, sweeping aside Grayhound 2-0 in the upper-bracket quarter-finals.

Across the two maps in that match they lost only nine rounds and they are 1/4 to follow that up with a win over OG in the upper-bracket semi-finals.

OG also won their first game of the ESL Pro League season 2-0 against 00Nation and are no pushovers - they are eighth in the HLTV world rankings and made the 3rd-4th places in the BLAST Premier World Final at the end of last year.

Since then, though, OG failed to make much of an impression in both the BLAST Premier Spring Groups and the IEM Katowice main events and it is worth remembering that Team Vitality won the last season of the ESL Pro League.

On that occasion, playing in a different format, Vitality finished the group stage with a 5-0 win-loss record and cruised to the final of the playoffs in which they defeated Team Liquid 3-2 to take the title.

They have the edge in big-match experience and should win this, so punters might want to consider backing Team Vitality to prevail 2-1 at 21/10.

Expect straightforward FaZe Clan win

WhatFaZe Clan v Ninjas in Pyjamas
When18:30, Thursday 9th March
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, ESL Twitch & Youtube channels
OddsFaZe Clan 3/10, Ninjas in Pyjamas 12/5

After an unconvincing second half to 2022, FaZe Clan do not look like the irrepressible force they once were, but they are still fourth in the HLTV world rankings and are worth keeping an eye on in this season's ESL Pro League.

FaZe made the top three at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups in January and the top four at the BLAST Premier World Final in December, while they were also runners-up in November's BLAST Premier Fall Final.

They have started looking like the side who dominated in the early stages of last season again and look about right at 3/10 to win this contest against Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Both of these sides won their first matches 2-0, but Ninjas in Pyjamas were still run close by paiN Gaming, conceding 26 rounds across the two maps.

They are down in 17th spot in the HLTV world rankings and could be out of their depth in this one, so opt for FaZe Clan to win 2-0 at 11/10.

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WhatGrayhound v 00Nation
When18:30, Thursday 9th March
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, ESL Twitch & Youtube channels
OddsGrayhound 2/1, 00Nation 4/11

Dropping down to the mid bracket of Group C and Grayhound are set to take on 00Nation on Thursday.

Grayhound are slightly better off in terms of the HLTV world rankings in 40th spot compared to 00Nation, who are 47th, but recent performances suggest the latter could be the team to side with.

Grayhound were thoroughly outplayed by Team Vitality in their opener, winning only nine rounds in that contest, whereas 00Nation also lost 2-0 against OG, but pushed them close, taking the first map to overtime.

00Nation look like the slightly better of the sides, but it could go the distance, so over 2.5 maps looks the wisest betting angle at 1/1.

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