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Stories to Watch at ESL Pro League S19

Zakaria Almughrabi

ESL Pro League S19 kicks off on April 23. The first EPL of Counter-Strike 2 features all of the top dogs from the game’s early days, as well as some updated and emerging rosters looking to start making their mark. Here are some of the more interesting points to track as ESL Pro League S19 begins.

ESL Pro League S19

Image Credit PGL | Stephanie Lindgren

All Teams in ESL Pro League S19





FaZe Clan Team Vitality MOUZ Complexity Gaming
Eternal Fire BetBoom Team GamerLegion HEROIC Team Falcons FURIA Esports BIG
3DMAX TYLOO FORZE Esports FlyQuest
Imperial Esports Sharks Esports Bad News Kangaroos Pera Esports
Astralis M80 ENCE Ninjas in Pyjamas
Fnatic The MongolZ Team Liquid BOSS
SAW G2 Esports Monte Natus Vincere

ESL Pro League S19 Format and Schedule

ESL Pro League S19 is split into four groups of eight teams each. Each group has been seeded into a triple-elimination bracket. The top two teams in the Upper Bracket, the winner of the Middle Bracket, and the winner of the Lower Bracket will all advance to the Playoffs. Advancing earlier provides first and second-round byes. All matches are best-of-three.

Groups A and B play from April 23 to April 28. Groups C and D play from April 30 to May 5. Group Stage match days begin at 7:30 AM ET / 4:30 AM PT each day. The Playoffs begin on May 7 and conclude with the Grand Finals on May 12. Playoff match days begin at 10:15 AM ET / 7:15 AM PT, with the exception of Grand Finals at 11:00 AM ET / 8:00 AM PT. Make a Big Move

With the recent speculation and subsequent news of Cloud9’s downfall, was the first strike when it came to picking an upgrade. VP has signed Denis “electroNic” Sharipov to their ranks, notably bolstering the firepower of the Russian squad. entered CS2 with some impressive finishes in back-to-back online events. At LAN, however, they haven’t been able to put together a deep run yet. Their recent playoff appearance at IEM Chengdu was a good sign, but they didn’t look close to contending for that title when they took the stage.

Now, has a sizable upgrade on paper that could help them realize more of their potential. However, The Dhazmi “Jame” Ali-led roster plays a very particular style of Counter-Strike, one that electroNic likely doesn’t have much experience with. It’s been a very short turnover, as VP has only had a couple of weeks at most to adjust their game plan around the experienced rifler. also plays in Group A, so they’ll have to take to the studio ASAP.

If this roster move can follow through on its positive perceptions, then Virtus. pro could soon be seen back in contention for titles.

Falcons Need to Show Life

The saga of Team Falcons in CS2 continues. After failing to qualify for the Major and publicly airing grievances towards aspects of the previous roster, they’ve signed the winningest Counter-Strike player of all time to bolster their roster. No, it’s not Aleksander “s1mple” Kostyliev. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen is back on a big-money squad and ready to prove that he’s still primed to win.

The five-time Major winner was previously kicked from Team Vitality following the Paris Major. After an inspiring performance with low-tier Danish squad Preasy, Danny “Zonic” Sorensen decided that he needed Dupreeh back. He now joins his former Astralis and Vitality coach and teammate Emil “Magisk” Reif.

Falcons are 50 percent the legendary Astralis core and 50 percent a strong and well-tested former ENCE core. On paper, there’s no reason why this team can’t at least qualify for big tournaments. In practice, they’ve struggled immensely in the early stages of their team. The half Astralis/half Vitality core that came together in 2022 had similar issues with integration.

That Vitality eventually won a Major after a year and a half. This Falcons team might not have the same luxury. They just failed to qualify for the Esports World Cup in Saudi Arabia, and as this team is a Saudi project, the pressure must be on to start showing any performance levels. An early exit at Pro League could be the beginning of the end for the squad.

Teams on the Rise

There are a few noteworthy teams that, while not being the first in line for deep runs in CS2 so far, have shown significant improvement over the past couple of months. With some decent runs at the PGL Copenhagen Major and IEM Chengdu, they’re looking to build upon that momentum here at ESL Pro League S19. Here is a brief list of them:

Astralis – The Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz IGL project had a great first showing at IEM Chengdu. An S-Tier Playoff appearance for an IGL’s debut is nothing to scoff at. That said, Astralis did have a preparation advantage going into that tournament. Showing consistency here is paramount for them.

Eternal Fire – The Turkish team will play their first LAN games since their outstanding top-eight finish at the PGL Copenhagen Major. This is the first time a Turkish squad has been ranked in HLTV’s top 10 teams worldwide. Making multiple deep tournament runs would be fantastic for the region.

Team Liquid – Liquid’s newest project has finally seen liftoff. Their playoff appearance at IEM Chengdu included a win over G2 Esports and a narrow 1-2 loss to eventual winners FaZe Clan. It’s been a while since Liquid lifted a trophy in CS, and this roster has the potential to keep up the improvement.

Can the Same Names Keep Performing?

And, of course, we have the usual suspects at the top of the field. Everyone is here at ESL Pro League (except Team Spirit apparently, sorry donk fans). FaZe Clan is coming off of their trophy lift at IEM Chengdu. G2 Esports and MOUZ also made deep runs, following FaZe in their consistent appearances in big games. Some teams like Team Vitality and PGL Major champions Natus Vincere took that time off and will be making their return to play here at Pro League.

The likelihood that one of those five teams will lift the ESL Pro League S19 trophy is exceptionally high. While variance and upsets are always a factor, CS2 has consistently been at the top. The teams that can adapt and learn the new game the best have been omnipresent, and it will likely take a bit longer for the rest of the field to play catch-up.