ESL Pro League Season 11 crowned two champions. Fnatic defeated mousesports to hoist the EPL trophy in the European region, while Team Liquid overcame Evil Geniuses in a quick, two-map series.
After thrashing mousesports once before in Season 11, Fnatic fought hard to come out on top of a back-and-forth series. On match point, mousesports let its lead slip away, robbing the team of the chance to become two-time ESL Pro League champions.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid put away EG in just two maps, thanks to a one-map advantage going into the finals. Both Fnatic and Team Liquid started their series with a win tallied, a bonus for successfully clearing the upper bracket.
Fnatic, mousesports grand final best series so far this year
Fnatic’s game against mouz went all five maps, even with Fnatic’s advantage. Both teams have proven they deserve to be treated like two of the top teams in the world, especially after their online play this season. The grand final wasn’t any different.
To start Counter-Strike’s day of competitive play, Fnatic took a dominant position by winning Overpass off the back of Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin’s impressive 1.31 rating. In an interesting twist, the finals went almost exactly according to WIN.gg’s predictions in terms of the teams’ star players. Fnatic was set to live or die on Brollan’s performance, while mouz was heavily invested in the success of Robin “ropz” Kool. Picking between the two of them is a difficult proposition, and the stats reflected that in this series.
The star players came to play and posted almost identical statistics.
While they didn’t start off strong on map one, mousesports leveraged its star players and its veterans on Dust 2. After a whirlwind week of playing CSGO’s classic map, mouz managed a fairly close win and defeated the Swedes 16-12. Finn “Karrigan” Andersen had a vintage performance in map two, often entry fragging and supporting at the same time. mousesports’ in-game leader topped his team on Dust 2 with a 99.1 ADR and a +10 K/D.
mouz followed up the performance on Dust 2 with a 16-11 victory on Vertigo two advance to match point heading into Nuke. Fnatic surged out to an early lead and never let up. The Swedish team didn’t pause for a moment, crushing mousesports 16-1 on the controversial double-decker map.
While mousesports put up a fight on the series’ decider Mirage, it was Fnatic’s veteran presence that was there to carry the load. Freddy “KRiMZ” Johannssen finished the grand final against mousesports with a scoreline that illustrated just how much the veteran did in Fnatic’s win.
In all, Fnatic goes in the the second quarter of the year as both a strong team in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s esports scene and as an attractive option for bettors as well. While their win at ESL Pro League will boost their profile, history says they’ll experience a slight regression after their win, making them a more affordable option when they inevitably bounce back.
Team Liquid eases past Evil Geniuses in two as NAF showcased big plays
Like Fnatic, Team Liquid started out with an extra tick in the win column due to their entrance through the tournaments upper bracket. Unlike Fnatic, however, Team Liquid took advantage of it. TL might not be as strong as they were this time last year, but they’re still the best team in North America, a fact that was highlighted against Evil Geniuses in the NA EPL Finals. Liquid put EG away in two, using its free win to put them at three maps and the tournament win.
Keith “NAF” Markovic was stunning in the team’s win, showing that he remains one of North America’s premier talents. NAF dropped bombs on EG throughout Dust 2 and Vertigo with a final statline of 53 kills to 29 deaths, a 106.5 ADR, 82.7% kill participation, and a 1.65 overall rating.
The others weren’t bad, they just weren’t needed. EG’s Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte managed to make a few plays, but they weren’t enough to slow Liquid on their way to the ESL Pro League title.
Both of the winners look good in their wins, but things can change in an instant. The online environment favored Fnatic more than it did Liquid but towards the end of the regular season, Liquid put their foot down after dropping series’ to FURIA eSports and Swole Patrol. Fnatic is 15-5 since the beginning of the year and often against stiffer competition to boot.
Unlike Fnatic, TL is too established to see a slip in matches where it holds favorite status. The North American team will most likely remain an unattractive outright betting option, though there may be action available in side markets.
ESL puts on a good show, despite COVID-19 handicaps
ESL Pro League returned to an online setting for the first time since Season 9, but the tournament operator didn’t look as though it had missed a step.
COVID-19 left many tournaments scrambling to organize online options, or forced them to cancel all together. ESL’s next tournament was slated to be the ESL One Rio Major, one of only two-developer sponsored tournaments each year in the Counter-Strike calendar.
NA’s Finest 🇨🇦🇺🇸
— Team Liquid – VALORANT HYPE (@TeamLiquid) April 12, 2020
Due to the outbreak, the tournament was moved into the second Major’s timeslot in November. This will be the first year without two Counter-Strike Majors since 2013.
Next up for both teams is the “Road to Rio,” a Valve-mandated re-qualification for ESL One Rio. In its announcement, Counter-Strike’s developer cited the length of time between the StarLadder Berlin Major in September 2019 and ESL One Rio as a factor for the decision to make all teams re-qualify. Numerous teams that would’ve had automatic invites to Rio due to their Berlin placements are awarded points that will count towards the total required to qualify.
WIN.gg has a full writeup of Valve’s new requirements as well as an in-depth explanation of Valve’s new rules right here.