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Esports: ESL Pro League Friday match previews

Season 17 of the ESL Pro League has not disappointed and it is nearing its conclusion with two quarter-finals having already been played.

While Cloud9 had the edge over MOUZ 2-1, ENCE managed to pull off a shock win of the same score line against defending ESL Pro League champions Team Vitality.

They are through to the semi-finals as a result and on Friday, we will discover which other two teams will join them as FaZe Clan clash with forZe and Heroic meet Natus Vincere in the remaining quarter-finals.

The champions of the ESL Pro League Season 17 will scoop $200,000 in prize money and qualify automatically for the IEM Cologne and the BLAST Premier World Final at the end of the year.

Expect FaZe Clan to send forZe packing

WhatforZe v FaZe Clan
WhereMalta
When10.30AM ET, Friday March 24
How to watchESL Youtube & Twitch channels
OddsforZe +300, FaZe Clan -450

Season 17 of the ESL Pro League has thrown up plenty of twists and shocks, not least the performance of forZe, who defied expectations to win Group D.

ForZe powered through their section which also featured powerhouses such as Natus Vincere and Team Liquid, beating the former in the upper-bracket quarter-finals before wins over Team Spirit and ENCE to take the group.

Winning Group D means ForZe have progressed automatically to the tournament's quarter-finals, avoiding the round of 16 and the round of 12 in the playoffs.

But beating their next opponent could be a bridge too far, as the odds suggest.

FaZe Clan were the team to beat in 2022, hoovering up titles such as the IEM Katowice, ESL Pro League Season 15 and the PGL Major Antwerp in the first half of the season.

Their form then took a bit of a hit in the latter stages of the campaign, before they came back strong by placing in the 3rd-4th positions at the BLAST Premier World Final.

They also made the 1st-3rd positions at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups in January and have looked capable in this season's ESL Pro League, winning their first two games 2-0 before being edged by Team Vitality 2-0, having lost the maps 19-16 and 19-15 in that contest.

They should come out on top in this one, but it is fair to say that forZe have been punching above their weight so they could take a map, making a 2-1 win for FaZe Clan the most attractive bet at +210.

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Heroic should ease past sleeping giants

WhatHeroic v Natus Vincere
WhereMalta
When2PM ET, Friday March 24
How to watchESL Youtube & Twitch channels
OddsHeroic -175, Natus Vincere +125

Although arguably playing in one of the softer sections, Heroic left nothing to chance in this season's ESL Pro League, winning all three of their matches in Group B against Movistar Riders, BIG and MOUZ to take top spot.

That meant progression to the quarter-finals in the playoffs, where they are set to meet big hitters Natus Vincere, who, it is fair to say, have underperformed in Season 17 of the ESL Pro League.

Like FaZe Clan, NAVI were one of the dominant forces on the CS:GO circuit in 2022 but have let their guard down in the last six months or so, failing to make an impact at the IEM Rio, BLAST Premier Fall Final or BLAST Premier World Final.

They bounced back by making the 3rd-4th positions at the recent IEM Katowice and have clung on to third spot in the HLTV world rankings but still do not have the look of a side who can mix it with the very best right now.

They were knocked out of the upper bracket completely in Group D, having to force their way through the mid bracket to qualify for the playoffs, and they dropped a map in their opening playoff contest against minors 00 Nation.

Heroic should have this one in the bag and are worth a bet to win 2-0 at +175.

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