In two days of exciting plays and upsets, four of the eight teams in the ESL Pro League Finals managed to make their way to London after defeating their opponents while the other four were sent home. The four teams who made it to the knockout stages will be playing at the Indigo at the O2 Arena for a chance at the $200,000 first place prize.
Day 1 of Groups
Photo Credit: HLTV
The first day of the tournament began in the most unexpected manner when the Danish team, Astralis, took on North American team, Optic Gaming. The clear favorites in the match was Astralis and many were expecting them to make a deep run into the tournament and perhaps even win it. However, the North American side shocked viewers as they proceeded to rattle off a quick 16-7 victory in dominating fashion. In particular, Optic’s NAF-FLY played a big part in their victory with a 23-6 scoreline to bring his team into the winner’s bracket of their group.
The second game was between the defending major winners, Luminosity Gaming, and French veterans, G2 Esports. Again, LG was hugely favored going into the match and went on to take an 8-0 lead to take the half 11-4. The French team did not crack despite the huge advantage and in the second half put up a stellar defense to for LG to take a timeout at 12-12. The timeout did not work as G2 secured the next four rounds to put themselves into the winner’s match.
The third and fourth game were between the teams in Group B and there, a semblance of normality was restored. Fnatic managed to clean up Cloud 9 with a relatively comfortable 16-10 victory while NiP took down the other North American team, Team Liquid, 22-19 in a double overtime match. It is worth noting that Liquid were up 14-2 at one point having won the first half 13-2 and taking the pistol round in the second half. NiP pulled off one of the largest comebacks ever to tie up the game despite Liquid having 8 match points to take the game.
The winner’s match in both groups went as expected as both the favorites took their games to secure a spot in London. G2 defeated Optic on Cobblestone 16-7 while NiP took down Fnatic 16-9 on Train.
Day 2 of Groups
Photo Credit: HLTV
The results of Day 2 were what most people expected after the matches finished. The first game was between Luminosity and Astralis in what could be called the most 50/50 matchup in the tournament so far. Both teams struggled back and forth for dominance with neither being able to get a significant advantage. In particular, the AWPers of the two teams, device and Fallen, put up huge numbers and plays for their team to keep the series close. Despite having more kills overall than the LG members, Astralis found themselves on the short end of the stick as they lost 1-2 to the Brazilian team with both games they lost getting well past the 28 round mark.
The next game was also an extremely close matchup as the two North American teams, Cloud 9 and Liquid faced off against each other. Both could arguably be called the best North American team if you discount the Brazilian teams, and this match was a battle to see who would be better. The first map was a thriller as Liquid managed to pull through in overtime 19-16. The second map was not as close as Liquid had a strong CT side which they followed up with a good T side to take the map a16-10 and win the series.
Unfortunately for North America, their dream would soon end in the next two games. Optic put up a good fight against LG, but the team succumbed to better team play from the Brazilians and lost both maps although they put up 12 and 13 rounds in the losses. Fnatic trounced Liquid on Liquid’s own map pick 16-6 before defeating them on the next map in a much closer 16-13 fashion to send eliminate the last team from the United States.
Starting on Saturday, March 13, NiP will take on LG while Fnatic will take on G2 in the semifinals of the tournament.
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