This study is a comparative examination of reading behavior of first-language (L1) Canadian and second-language (L2) Finnish and German readers of English. We measured eye-movement patterns during reading the same set of English sentences and administered tests of English vocabulary, spelling, and exposure to print. The core of our study is a novel method of statistical prediction used to generate hypothetical Finnish and German participants with maximum observed L1 scores in all component skills. We found that with L1-like component skills, hypothetical German readers can show the same reading speed as the L1 group. We hypothesize this advantage comes from the small linguistic distance to English. Conversely, hypothetical Finnish readers remain disadvantaged even with maximum component skills, likely due to a larger linguistic distance. We discuss theoretical and applied implications of our method for L2 acquisition research.