EPL’s first day comes to a close with Vitality, Astralis, and Heroic all walking away with wins. Group A continues to heat up!
International competition finally returns to Counter-Strike as ESL Pro League Season 14’s Group A openers went underway today. From nail-biting maps to utter domination, all three matches taught valuable peeks into the rest of the week’s matches and how this first group of EPL will play out.
Heroic Crush Bad News Bears
The very first match of the new season ended almost as quickly as it began. Although the very beginnings of Mirage saw silver linings for the North American squad, the Bad News Bears suffered quite the 14-1 beating on the T-side. Regardless of the lower win statistics for Heroic, the Danes headed into their comfort pick of Nuke with their chests welled up with pride.
Rene “TeSeS” Madsen found himself to be the largest thorn in the side of the Bears throughout the series and continued to lay down then pain on Nuke. Dying a mere 7 times throughout the Danish map pick, TeSeS racked up 23 kills in total to take home Heroic’s opener in style 16-4. Their first true test begins tomorrow against the wary dragons of Spirit.
Vitality Fend Off Initial ENCE Scare
Touted as the dark horse of the group, ENCE poised to take on a waning Vitality in their return to professional Counter-Strike. The international squad fought tooth and nail on their map pick of Mirage nabbing five T-rounds. Pawel “dycha” Dycha came out of the gates swinging in many of the rounds won for the squad and it seemed like the CT-side could be where things turned around for the squad. Despite the best efforts of Olek “hades” Miskiewicz and Lotan “Spinx” Giladi the team dropped to the final hurdle to reach overtime and head into Overpass with a 14-16 loss.
The consistency of Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut continued to shine throughout Overpass as Vitality won out their T-half 9-6. Regardless of any initial heroics from the stars of ENCE, the French AWPer hunkered down on the CT-side alongside Kevin “misutaaa” Rabier and closed out their map pick 16-9. Looking to double down on their recent success, the Frenchmen look to take down the Bad News Bears first thing tomorrow morning.
Astralis Grind Out Their Opening EPL Match Against Spirit
The CIS squad of Team Spirit began preparations for their EPL opener early as the young Russian Boris “magixx” Vorobiev won out the last season of FPL prior to the return of professional play. In a surprise move, Astralis began their opening game with veteran Andreas “Xyp9x” Hojsleth taking a backseat for the young AWPer Philip “Lucky” Eswald. The maps certainly seemed to favor their opponents but Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander continued their surprising form from IEM Cologne here at ESL Pro League.
The Danes kept it close on Dust 2 regardless of Abdul “degster” Gasanov’s heroics and pushed the CIS dragons to 27 rounds of play. Lucky, having quite the slow start on his opponent’s map pick, continued to struggle in his debut on Inferno as well. Regardless, the grizzled veterans of the Astralis core picked up the pieces and demolished Spirit on their home map 16-6.
Where question marks still lied for the Danish squad was by far the decider of Ancient. Going 0-2 in their only two appearances on the map did not bode well heading into the experienced Spirit lineup. However, in a shocking turn of events, a masterful T-side from IGL gla1ve stole away round after round. Surprisingly winning the more difficult side of Ancient, the snowballing continued on the CT-side and Astralis stole away the series against Spirit 16-7. Another tense series brews for the Danish crew as they take on ENCE tomorrow.