Photo Credit: (Daniel Ranki)
Team Liquid ran through a European gauntlet to go through to the Grand Finals. While they ended up falling to Astralis 3-1, the improvement they showed from DreamHack Masters Marseille is massive. Epitacio ‘TACO’ de Melo proved that he could be more than a bottom fragger and really shined on the B site of Inferno.
Keith ‘NAF’ Markovic was outstanding for the matches Liquid won and has continued to develop into a star player for the team. After outplacing their closest regional rivals Cloud9, the future looks rather bright for the newly minted Team Liquid. Astralis remain a problem for them (and the rest of the world), but the team are poised to win events without the Danish juggernaut present.
Jorgen ‘Cromen’ Robertsen
Despite being a temporary standin, Cromen went above and beyond his call of duty and fragged out of his mind for Heroic. He almost single handedly carried a dying Heroic against NRG and kept them alive in a best of three against Natus Vincere. His rifling was very good and for someone who has not played in a tier one tournament in a long time, this was a statement performance. Cromen boosted his player stock massively and should be in a team that is more notable than NOREG.
This list would not be complete without mentioning the event winners. Astralis won the event rather handily with blowouts of domestic rival OpTic Gaming and the number two team in the world FaZe Clan and after a blowout win on dust2 they won a close series against Team Liquid. Everyone in Astralis is pulling their own weight and playing in Lukas ‘g1ave’ Rossander’s system in a way we have not seen in quite the while. Astralis has a seven map pool and makes little to no positional mistakes on the CT side. If you didn’t think that Astralis is the best team in the world, you should now.
Should I just give Cloud 9 a permanent spot here? It is not looking good. They need a win. They did not get a win. In fact, they lost to a team with a stand in and Adam ’Friberg’ Friberg. Cloud 9 has looked awful and their players still look uncomfortable. In a near repeat of WESG, Cloud9 went three maps against the Brazilian representative of the LAX Liga Sharks. The event saw Will “RUSH” Wierzba have an another awful performance which could spell roster changes in the future.
It is kind of funny how the two best players on the Australian team aren’t even Australian. Both Joakim ‘Jkaem’ Myrbostad and Noah ‘Nifty’ Francis are giant parts to this team. Normally I would expect around this level of play from Renegades, but lately they have been on a tear. They were showing amazing results prior to this event and in Dallas, they kind of just… Didn’t. You may attribute this to an ‘off event’ but normally I don’t believe in ‘one off’s’ in Counter Strike. Renegades only beat Greyhound at this event and lost to Space Soldiers and SK Gaming. Their star players fell flat, and Renegades did not look pretty in any aspect when it mattered.
The ESL Pro League finals is one of the bigger events in the year primarily because most to all the best teams over the entire season participate. This year was no exception. The event ran with few delays and technical issues were kept to a minimum. The issue was, is that more often than not, people watched foreign streams instead of the English stream because their streaming service of choice (Facebook) is hot garbage. While it is known that ESL can’t do anything more than what they are doing now, they won’t get credit for a well-run event until ESL goes back to twitch. Despite running a solid event, ESL still takes the L.
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