EPL Season 9 Group Stage ended with NRG and mousesports surprisingly topping their groups. Thanks to the unexpected turn of events, Astralis and Team Liquid are going to face each other in Quarter-finals. Read an in-detailed review of Group Stage here.
Group A – Upper Bracket
The incredible comeback of NRG Esports
Despite all the turbulence in the squad due to the recent roster change, NRG had a fantastic run in EPL Season 9 Group Stage. As NRG qualified for this event with daps, they had to play with him on the team at the main event. However, NRG stopped practicing with daps when they signed stanislaw, so it wasn’t expected of them to have a good showing in France. Moreover, they were just one round away from dropping down to Lower Bracket. Nevertheless, NRG stepped up and eventually managed to top the group.
In the first round, NRG convincingly defeated Fnatic on Nuke (16-12). So, they met G2 Esports in the second round who previously bested Grayhound (16-13) on the same map. The matchup between NRG and G2 Esports had everything that good match has.
On the first map (Train), G2 dominated NRG in the first half on CT side (13-2). Although it looked like it was going to be a smooth victory, NRG didn’t give up. They closed the gap a little bit, but G2 eventually concluded the match in their favor (16-11). On the following map (Dust 2), we saw something similar but with a different outcome. G2 had a decent lead at half-time (10-5), and first earned match points. It was 15-11 when G2 was just one round away from Upper Bracket final. NRG stepped up and took the game to Overtime. There, they managed to outlast G2 to force the third map even though the third map didn’t look realistic in regular time.
All kennyS’ effort was in vain
After 22 rounds on Overpass, G2 again was the team that was closer to victory (13-9). However, NRG was the first team who earned match point but failed to convert it to victory. Therefore, the game entered Overtime again. In a next-to-last round, kennyS from G2 tried to knife the played who defused the bomb but failed, although he was very close. Later on, G2 lost the final round and match. KennyS was the player of the match without a doubt. He had 89 kills, 94 ADR, and 70% KAST.
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However, it turned out that his all effort was in vain considering the final outcome. After the match, he was desperate as we could see the sadness on his face. If he managed to knife that player in the 25th round, G2 would probably win the game. That probably was something that bothered him the most.
NRG upset Astralis
On the other side of Upper Bracket in Group A of EPL Season 9 Group Stage, Astralis had two smooth triumphs over Cloud 9 (16-9) and Heroic (16-7, 16-7). The highlight of their games is definitely their debut on Vertigo against Heroic. They proved they can play on a new map as they crushed Heroic. On top of that, Vertigo was Heroic’s choice, not the choice of Astralis.
In the match between Astralis and NRG, the Danes were unquestionable favorites. But, they had to prove it on the server and it turned out it was a problem for Astralis.
The match kicked off on Train. After clinching the opening three rounds, NRG didn’t do so much in the first half. Thus, Astralis secured the first half on CT side with convincing lead (10-5). But, Astralis’ T side on Train was pretty bad. Even though they managed to plant the bomb four times in the last five rounds, Danes were in an inferior post-plant situation most of the times. In the end, Astralis barely clinched three rounds on T side, which was insufficient to win the first map which ended with score 16-13 for NRG. CeRq played an amazing leg with score 31/5/19.
16-13 Train 🚂
8-16 Nuke ☢
16-12 Dust2 🌴
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) June 20, 2019
Things then moved to Nuke. Although it’s Astralis’ best map, they had three Nuke loss streak. So, it wasn’t clear if they can take the game to the third map. But, they confidently bested NRG thanks to the very good T side (10-5). The match ended with scoreline 16-8 in Astralis’ favor. Dev1ce led Danes with 30 kills, 83% KAST and 124 ADR. Also, he won a very important 1v4 clutch in the 7th round of the game.
Weak Game of Astralis
On the final map (Dust 2), Astralis showed the relatively weak game on both sides. NRG opened the final leg with 6 rounds in a row. At one moment, the score was 9-3 for NRG. Astralis didn’t totally fell behind as they managed to get closer to NRG with closing the first half with three rounds in a row to set the score at half-time at 9-6.
Nevertheless, Astralis lost the second pistol round as well. It meant that Astralis managed to win only one out of six pistols rounds. It definitely had a big impact on the relatively weak performance of Danes. Gla1ve and co. didn’t have an advantage at any point in the last leg. Eventually, NRG put the game to bed with scoreline 16-12 to top the Group A of EPL Season 9 Group Stage and secure the spot in Semi-final. This brought up many questions about NRG’s roster change and if daps really deserved to be replaced.
In the first round of Lower Bracket, Fnatic bested Grayhound (16-11, 16-13) and Cloud9 dominated DETONA Gaming (16-4, 16-9). Round 2 featured one big surprise. Heroic upset Fnatic (16-7, 12-16, 16-6) and G2 edged out Cloud9 (16-12, 16-13).
In the final round of Lower Bracket of EPL Season 9 Group Stage, Heroic picked Vertigo one more time but got humiliated by G2 (16-3). On the following map (Dust 2), G2 ended the job in a convincing manner (16-11) to proceed to Quarter-final. KennyS was brilliant again as he ended the whole match with score 46/15/18 and 106 ADR.
Group B – Upper Bracket
An incredible run of mousesports
The European team led by karrigan had a furious run in EPL Season 9 Group Stage. After a decent result at IEM Sydney and after title at DH Open Tours, mousesports kept improving their form.
In the first round of Group B, mousesports defeated MiBR on Inferno (16-8). Although MiBR didn’t perform so well recently, this victory of mousesports was surprising. In the following round, mousesports met HellRaisers who bested Luminosity (16-7). It was an easy ride for karrigan and co. on Mirage (16-5) and Nuke (16-8). Mousesports secured a place in Play-offs and they were going to play against FaZe for Semi-final.
On the other side of Upper Bracket, FaZe overcame TYLOO on Vertigo (16-12) and faced North in the second round. Interestingly, North managed to upset Team Liquid in the first round and to send them to Lower Bracket. The duel between FaZe Clan and North was quite intense, especially in the third map where things went into Overtime. FaZe prevailed after 35 rounds and reached the final round of Upper Bracket in Group B.
The match kicked off on mousesports’ map pick, Train. Karrigan and co. had a very good T-side (9-6), but FaZe Clan bounced back at the beginning of the second half. They won five rounds in a row to take lead. Nevertheless, mouz stepped up and finished the game in their favor (16-12).
The following map was Vertigo, map picked by FaZe. However, like in all other matches, the team that picked Vertigo lost the leg on that map in this match as well. Not only that mousesports beat FaZe, but they did it in great fashion. FaZe didn’t even manage to reach double digits, so mouz was the team that advanced directly to the Semi-final.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) June 20, 2019
Team Liquid fought their way through to Play-off
It was quite surprising to see Team Liquid dropping down to Lower Bracket already in the first round. Given that initial matches are Best-of-1, upsets are more likely to happen in the first rounds than later.
In the first round, Liquid successfully overcame TYLOO (16-6, 16-7). However, the North American team was about to drop out in the second round versus HellRaisers. Nitr0 and co. secured the first leg on Vertigo (16-11), but lost on Inferno after an intense battle (16-14). Teams moved to Overpass, and HR had an advantage at half-time (9-6). Later on, they achieved 14-11 lead and were only two rounds from making a big upset. Their two AWP setups on T side were deadly. Nevertheless, in the last rounds, it seemed like there was a miscommunication and maybe even conflict between HR players when it came to decisions about buying.
Consequently, Liquid took advantage of chaos in HR and made a comeback to book a meeting with MiBR in the last round.
MiBR also had to fight their way through Lower Bracket as they lost to mousesports. In the first round, they eliminated another Brazilian team, Luminosity Gaming. In the following round, the Brazilians outlasted and edged out North after three map series. However, they ran out of fuel as Team Liquid bested them in a convincing manner in the final round of Lower Bracket.
The final day of the group stage has come to an end.
We’ll be back tomorrow at 14:30 CET in the Sud de France arena to play out our quarter final matches!
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) June 20, 2019
On paper, this encounter was the strongest one in EPL Season 9 Group Stage. Two-time Major champions met the world number one. However, the duel lacked a little bit of excitement as Liquid was in front seat almost all the time. EliGE played very well and ended up the series with a 1.61 rating. As a result, Liquid book a meeting with Astralis already in Quarter-final. No one expected this match so early on, but this can easily be a match that is going to decide the champion of the whole tournament.