The finals of ESL Pro League Season 9 has finally concluded after five days of action in Montpellier, France
The finals of ESL Pro League Season 9 has finally concluded after five days of action in Montpellier, France. Team Liquid have been crowned champions after taking out French side G2 in a thrilling three map series on home soil.
Team Liquid have defeated surprise finalist G2 in the finals of ESL Pro League Season 9 to earn them their fourth trophy of the year, cementing their spot as the number one team in the world.
The North American side truly had to earn their win as this was one of the most stacked tournaments of the year with many of the world’s best teams in attendance. The format was GSL system with best-of-threes for the majority of the group stage, including a best-of-five grand final.
Team Liquid were forced to battle all the way through the lower bracket after losing to North in the opening match, beating TyLoo, HellRaisers and MIBR on their way to the playoffs. In the playoffs, they bested long time rivals Astralis as well as a motivated mousesports team to make it to the final against G2.
Initially, it seemed as if the 3–0 sweep was on the cards for Team Liquid in the final, as they were able to best G2 on their map pick, Dust 2, before steamrolling the French side on Overpass. However, G2 brought it back with a win of their own on Nuke to push it to a fourth map which proved to be a real nail-biter. The map was in many ways reminiscent of the Boston Major final between FaZe and Cloud9 last year, as the match was a back and forth affair that was ultimately settled in Liquid’s favor after triple overtime.
After winning IEM Sydney and DreamHack Masters Dallas earlier in the year, Team Liquid are now one step closer to the Intel Grand Slam, which would net them a cool $1,000,000. The win was historic in many ways, as this was the first time a North American side has ever won a premier event in Europe.
This tournament had a smorgasbord of excellent matches and most of them involved Team Liquid. Their match-ups against MIBR, mousesports and G2 were all great series with many excellent moments. However, it is hard to ignore the significance of the quarter-finals match-up against their long-time rivals and pre-tournament favorites; Astralis.
Team Liquid have been on the losing side of the equation against Astralis on so many occasions in the past, in fact, they were unable to defeat the Danes even once in a best-of-three during the entirety of 2018. However, with Stewie2k’s introduction, it seems as if the tides have turned. They started the year off by winning against Astralis in the finals of iBuyPower Masters, but due to the problems that riddled that tournament the legitimacy of the win was questioned— people still wanted to see Astralis bested in a best-of-three in a higher caliber tournament.
Astralis losing to NRG in the group-stages meant that they would be drawn against Team Liquid in the quarter-finals which gave us the match-up we all wanted to see. With Astralis having slipped up against the likes of ENCE and FURIA in recent times, the outcome felt more uncertain than in previous meetings between these two teams.
Astralis came out of the gate swinging on Liquid’s map pick, Overpass. The Danes won ten consecutive rounds on their ct-side, ending the half 12–3. Team Liquid were able to mount a bit of a comeback following a stunning quad-kill on the pistol round by Stewie2k but ultimately Astralis proved to be too much to handle as they closed it out 16–12 in regulation. However, Team Liquid answered straight back by stomping the Danes 16–3 on their map pick, Inferno — which left us with Vertigo as the decider.
Again, it was Astralis that came out of the gate swinging, ending the half 11–4. It looked like the Danes had the series in the bag, but Team Liquid were able to mount an incredible comeback to close out the series 16–13 in regulation after an excellent performance by EliGE in particular.
We saw great performances from players like kennyS, woxic, and Twistzz at the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals. However, it was EliGE who stood above all else which ultimately netted him his second MVP medal of the year. The American posted monstrous numbers all throughout the tournament and he was instrumental in their win against arch-rivals Astralis, posting a combined 78 kills with a K/D ratio of 1.59 and an ADR of 97.3 — best on the server by quite some margin.
His impact across the board was insane, racking up multi-kill after multi-kill. The most impressive part is that he had the highest K/D differential on his team at +90 despite his aggressive style of play. He was number one on his team in opening kills (70) with a success rate of 59.8%. To put that into context, these are numbers that even AWPers struggle to rival.
EliGE is someone who has certainly benefited greatly from the changes made to the scoped rifles, as his impact with the AUG and SG-556 has been outstanding. As such, it will be interesting to see how EliGE performs moving forward, as the AUG has now been nerfed.
In our last preview for the event, I recommended taking Liquid over Astralis at the longer number. Those brave enough to take Liquid to win outright cashed in at $3.10. However, there was some bigger money to be had for those who were willing to take a chance on an underdog. I highlighted G2 among three other teams with upset potential (mouz, North, fnatic) and those who were sharp enough (or crazy enough) to grab G2 in the ‘To Make The Finals’ market cashed in at around 10/1 — not bad!
Lastly, the biggest upset in group play was NRG’s victory against Astralis. I don’t think many saw this one coming considering NRG’s current circumstances but those who did cashed in big as an NRG win paid out at around 6/1 — not bad for a single match.