This article is part of our CS:GO series.
ESL Pro League is back for the 17th season with Group A kicking off a new format featuring bracket play and not group play. Here's a look at some players to target and fade in the opening group of ESL Pro League Season 17.
Players to Target
The first name on the list is the brilliant rifler of Cloud9, Ax1Le. The riches of talent that Cloud9 bring to bear is practically silly at this point. They have an argument for the top AWPer in the world in sh1ro, the top rifler in the world, Ax1Le, and even the top support with HObbit. This team is among the Pro League favorites despite a rocky start to 2023 and bear consideration in all formats.
jks has quietly been the driving force behind a red-hot start from G2 in 2023. The support rifler has been red-hot to start the season and has lead his side to two titles in the opening two events. G2 is in line for the three-peat and have nobody to challenge them truly in this group. jks has been simply incredible with a 1.12 in a supportive role while only dying 0.58 times per round.
roeJ is the entry fragger for a Fnatic side that has been... passable. That's about the best you can say for this Fnatic roster as they look to find their footing in 2023. Opening the tournament against MIBR should give Fnatic an early chance for some momentum in Pro League. roeJ and nicoodoz have been excellent since joining Fnatic and are top options throughout Group A.
Players to Fade
Bart4k is a stand-in for IHC, and despite a string of impressive series, he individually has struggled. The rifler is consistently towards the bottom of the board and opens with a tough clash against Outsiders. It's not to say Bart4k isn't a promising player, he simply doesn't offer enough individually in a tough situation as a stand-in.
Evil Geniuses is the laughing stock of Counter Strike and it's not hard to see why. This roster won't be at the BLAST Major after losing to a variety of amateur teams in the North American qualifier. Their reward for those awful showings? An opening round match against Cloud9. You could put any member of EG here, but HexT takes the honors because he was previously one of the few options on the team worth considering.
HooXi is leading G2 to a fantastic start to 2023. That's awesome for the Danish veteran, as individually he remains an anchor. For fantasy purposes HooXi would barely be worth taking at minimum salary and with the good form of G2 he simply bears no consideration. HooXi and G2 are favorites in Pro League, but that doesn't give HooXi any more relevance for fantasy managers.
Stats courtesy of HLTV.org