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PandaScore: take note of Team Spirit’s new star

By - 2 April 2024

If Counter-Strike esports had to be about one thing in the opening quarter of this year, it was Russian organisation Team Spirit.

The squad surprised everyone, with breakout star Danil “donk” Kryshkovets dominating at IEM Katowice, the holy grail of pro CS tournaments. Team Spirit had a near-perfect run and their performances blew up social feeds as hype about Spirit’s new young gun got even bigger the deeper the tournament progressed.

Team Spirit and donk are now one to watch when trading Counter-Strike: was this lightning in a bottle from a new player, or is it a new, lasting performance level? PandaScore’s Trading Operations Manager, Clay Bartolo dives into how odds have shifted for Team Spirit, and what it means for pricing in Counter-Strike.

Taking Katowice by storm

Pretty much from the moment IEM Katowice 2024 started, it was all about Team Spirit and donk. Aside from dropping a single map to Na’Vi, Spirit didn’t falter at all and in many cases, won in extremely convincing fashion.

In particular, it was donk’s performances that stood out, racking up tons of kills during matches and pulling off plenty of ridiculous shots thanks to some otherworldly reflexes. In professional Counter-Strike if someone is getting 28-30 kills a game they’re considered a phenom – donk was getting above 30 against the best in the world.

Very quickly fan and bettor hype built around Team Spirit at Katowice, with odds shifting to favour them against almost every team. The only exception was FaZe Clan, which has a strong fan and bettor following that sees the odds favour them in almost any matchup.

Both sides met in the middle of the tournament, with Spirit handing FaZe a 2-0 loss. They met again in the final after FaZe had a strong run, and were still considered the favourite in the final despite all the hype around Spirit, with donk at the centre of it all.

It was expected to be a close matchup, but Spirit completed a clean 3-0 to take the whole tournament – donk amassed a whopping 82 kills over three games, 29 more than any other player on both sides.

The series generated a great deal of betting activity, with a streaking team led by a high-flying rookie going up against the perennial favourite. The tournament win has cemented donk as a player that fans and bettors absolutely love to engage with, and this carried over into later tournaments in February.

Good form has continued

The performance at Katowice saw Team Spirit jump up to #3 in the global rankings, with some high expectations for the qualifiers for the upcoming Major in Copenhagen. Spirit made a strong opening statement, with a perfect 13-0 win against ENCE, who are a strong side with solid players.

At PandaScore we saw a huge shift in the odds following this win. Prematch odds were available for ENCE match, and the following match against Danish squad Astralis – with Spirit opening at 1.55 to win against the Danes. After wiping the floor with ENCE, Spirit jumped to 1.20 to win, eventually closing at 1.22.

This shift in favouring Spirit carried on throughout the tournament, sitting at 1.20 to win against stalwarts Heroic, even after copping a 2-0 loss to MOUZ along the way.

Spirit and donk’s future

February has shown that esports fans, bettors and traders alike should keep a close eye on Team Spirit. 2024 could very well shape up to be Spirit’s year, especially with donk putting in outstanding performances so early in his career. Some people are already comparing his playstyle and how good he is so early in his career to Counter-Strike royalty: Kenny “kennyS” Schrub.

From the odds creation perspective, there’s a possibility that if Team Spirit and donk maintain their performance levels they could develop a similar betting following to FaZe – placing bets on them regardless of form, their opposition and other variables.

This betting behaviour is likely to carry over to the next few tournaments on the cards. Safe to say that since Spirit has qualified for the upcoming PGL Major in Copenhagen, fans, bettors and traders alike should take note – this could be donk’s world, and we’re just living in it.

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