Steven R. June 23, 2019
The grand finals to the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals are now set.
In a surprising turn of events, Team Liquid will take on a resurgent G2 Esports. Both teams will look to cap what has been a strong run at the event.
Liquid earned its spot by taking a convincing victory off of Mousesports in the semifinals. The North American squad entered the event as one of the favorites to win and has lived up to those expectations to this point.
The series with Mouz opened on Overpass with yet another exceptional showing from Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski. EliGE has been a force throughout the tournament, but stepped up in a big way in Liquid’s quarterfinal showdown with Astralis. He was no less impressive here, topping the scoreboard with 22 kills and a team-leading 96.5 ADR. That helped propel Liquid to a strong 16-8 showing to open the series.
The teams jumped to Nuke from there, where Liquid sprint to an early 13-2 lead. After halftime, Özgür "woxic" Eker took it upon himself to drag Mouz back into the game and force overtime. But while Woxic might have been the most impactful player in the game, Liquid still proved to be the better team by taking a 19-17 win to lock up the spot in the grand finals.
On the other side of the bracket, G2 took out NRG Esports.
The series opened in strong fashion for the French side with Kenny "kennyS" Schrub playing in top form and helping G2 get off to an early lead on Dust 2. NRG mounted a rally and took the lead, but Richard "shox" Papillon made the plays to close out the game.
NRG returned fire in game two on Train. Though the map is historically CT-sided, a massive clutch from Damian "daps" Steele sparked huge T half for NRG. Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte picked things up from there and helped NRG tie the series at 1-1 with a 16-7 win.
Though momentum seemed to be shifting, NRG had the door slammed in their face on Overpass. A big opening from François "AmaNEk" Delaunay propelled the team to ten straight rounds and a 12-3 lead at halftime. NRG kept things interesting but never came close to regaining the lead, ultimately ceding the series with a 16-10 loss.
Where do NRG Esports and Mousesports go from here?
While the stories of Team Liquid and G2 Esports go on from here, NRG Esports and Mousesports both find themselves in interesting spots.
NRG has looked rock solid since the addition of Tarik "tarik" Celik. Though a live event win has eluded the squad, they have performed well at a number of high-profile tournaments including third-place finishes at StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7 and the ECS Season 7 Finals. The team has trouble getting beyond the bronze medal, but they still consistently perform well under the spotlight.
Though there was reason to doubt NRG heading into this tournament as captain Daps is set to be deactivated in the near future, the team still looked rock solid. Many are excited to see his debut with NRG, Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz has some big shoes to fill.
As for Mousesports, the team is quickly reestablishing itself as one of Europe’s best.
The organization did a hard reboot of its roster after washing out of the IEM Katowice Major’s Europe Minor Championship and has looked good since. The team hasn’t been especially active, but Mouz looked solid in their debut at Intel Extreme Masters XIV Sydney and took first place at DreamHack Open Tours 2019.
The team will need to continue looking formidable as they enter a hectic July that includes ESL One: Cologne and the Berlin Major’s Europe Minor Championship.