We move one step closer to the end of another season of EPL — and what a step it was
After two days of thrilling action, the Quarterfinals of ESL Pro League Season 16 have come to an end. The original 24 teams are now down to just 4 — Cloud9, Team Liquid, Team Vitality and G2 Esports. Within the next two days, one team will be crowned Season 16 champions, while the others will have only the experience — and a decent paycheck for making it this far — to cherish.
If you haven’t been following the Playoffs, you can take a look at our Round of 12 recap to get up to speed. For those who are fully updated, here’s a brief breakdown of each match.
Cloud9 vs FaZe Clan
Coming into the tournament as favorites, FaZe undoubtedly had high expectations of themselves despite a relatively shaky Group Stage where they lost to G2 and dropped maps to MIBR and Outsiders. They currently have arguably the strongest team on paper, and with the million-dollar Intel Grand Slam on the cards, would have loved to wrap things up with this tournament. However, the CIS boys of an American organization had other plans.
The series began with Inferno, which was FaZe’s pick, and they showed exactly why with a 16-13 victory. Helvijs “broky” Saukants and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken outperformed the rest to carry their team to victory, coming in strong to take 8 rounds on T-side after a shaky turn on the CT-side. Sergey ”Ax1Le” Rykhtorov was in form for C9, but his efforts went in vain.
On C9’s pick of Ancient, however, things changed drastically. Ax1Le stepped up massively for an incredible 1.79-rated performance with 27 kills as the Russians and Kazakh marched to a comprehensive 16-9 win. Grabbing a whopping 9 rounds on T-side before FaZe salvaged a few of their own, C9 completely shut down any attempts at a comeback with a 7-2 scoreline on the defense. Robin “ropz” Kool was great for FaZe, but his teammates were simply not up to the mark.
It’s a mark of just how in-form Ax1Le is that he outperformed everyone else once again, adding a further 27 kills to his name as his team won 16-11 on Mirage. Abay “HObbit” Hasenov was also brilliant this time around with 25 kills of his own. Once again, it was the T-side that stood out for the CIS team.
MOUZ vs Team Liquid
MOUZ were the surprise quarter-finalists at this event, with everyone having expected Astralis, Heroic, or even ENCE in their stead. The young squad, however, doesn’t quite have the consistency required to win such a big event — at least not yet. Team Liquid are no stranger to such runs, and they proved that they are ready to make one more.
Despite an amazing effort from David ”frozen” Čerňanský, Liquid cruised to a comfortable 16-10 victory on their own map pick of Inferno. Keith “NAF” Markovic and Liquid’s main man Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski were in top nick for their own team as they took a whopping 11 rounds on T side and closed it out despite a scary start to their defense.
Ancient was pretty much the same story, with frozen standing head and shoulders above the rest but thwarted by EliGE and, this time, Joshua “oSee” Ohm. MOUZ had a decent start to the match with 6 rounds on what is unarguably a difficult T-side, but Liquid showed that their own strats were no less dangerous as they closed out the map and series with a score of 16-11 on the former.
G2 Esports vs Natus Vincere
This was one of the most eagerly-awaited matches of the Playoffs so far, and it paid dividends to those hoping for it to be a good game. It was a battle between long-time superstars and a superstar in the making all thrown in together, with revenge, pride, and reputation all on the line for two massive teams.
On Na’ Vi’s map pick of Dust 2, the Ukrainians had a decent T-side with 6 rounds, but shut down the attackers to take the map 16-13. Who else but Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev topped the charts with an HLTV rating of 1.55, undoing the hard work of fellow superstar Nikola “NiKo” Kovač on the other side.
On Inferno, however, the story was reversed as NiKo and Justin “jks” Savage boosted G2 to a confident 16-9 win. The French organization winning both halves and absolutely outclassing their opponents.
It’s a mark of just how good young Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov is that he had a ridiculous 1.89 rating against the likes of Na’ Vi. Supported by NiKo, the Russian dismantled his opponents on both halves as his team waltzed to a comfortable 16-9 triumph, winning the series 2-1.
Team Vitality vs Outsiders
Rarely can a CSGO game with a close scoreline be called “boring,” but if anything can come close to that, it was this matchup between the two most defensive and patient teams in the world. Both teams began saving any time one or two players on their side died, and while we understand it can be an effective strategy under certain circumstances, it was painful to watch at times with the throwing of a simple smoke being a part of the round’s highlights as it ended with 8 people alive.
Vitality had a dominant start to Mirage as they took a 10-5 lead on the CT side, and despite a great attempt on the defense by Outsiders on what was their map pick, the French clan took the win 16-13. Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut was the usual suspect who led the way for his team, with Pyotr “fame” Bolyshev’s efforts falling short.
Dust 2 was a slow-burn war of attrition as the two teams had 9-6 halves to take the match into Overtime. In the end, Vitality managed to close out the game, with ZywOo once again stepping up — this time joined by Emil “Magisk” Reif.
We will also be covering the Semifinals and Grand Final, so be sure to join us for the recaps of those matches.
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