The ESL ESEA Pro League Dubai Invitational kicked off yesterday with high level Counter-Strike: Global Offensive action. World’s eight top teams traveled to Dubai to battle it out for a US$250,000 prize pool. We saw tons of exciting CS:GO action and here is how it all went down.
Group A, Match 1: Team EnVyUs vs. Cloud9
A match which was predicted to have the biggest upset potential was the first to be played at the ESL ESEA Pro League Dubai Invitational. With a fair bit of history to this matchup after various wins from Cloud 9 over EnVy this match was one to get out of bed early for.
The match took place on Cobblestone, with Team EnVyUs starting on the Terrorist side. EnVy experienced a minor hiccup after winning the important pistol round but managed to avoid a back and forth brawl, quickly taking a convincing 7-2 lead. At this point it looked like it was a walk in the park for the French squad of EnVy, until Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert showed up. N0thing put up a stellar defence ending the half with 21 frags and pulling the CT-side back to a 7-8 scoreline in Cloud9’s favour.
Cloud9’s Terrorist side has been a downfall for many teams so far, with strong executes and good reads on their opponents. As much as the first half was back-to-back round wins for either team, the second half showed that both teams are capable of fighting with limited means. With a pistol round win EnVy managed to regain momentum and propel themselves into the second half and close out the match with a 16-12 scoreline.
Group A, Match 2: Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. Virtus.Pro
After a disappointing run during the ESL One Cologne 2015 Major this match was a good opportunity for the Ninjas in Pyjamas to regain their form. Virtus.Pro has undergone a change in their playstyle which turned out to be a gamechanger for them.
With Mirage set for the map pick and NiP starting on the Counter-Terrorist side the match kicked off. We saw glimpses of the old NiP team with friberg and GeT_RiGhT putting up a pretty solid defence. The aggressive play from GeT_RiGhT with his odd weapon choice, a P90, worked surprisingly well for the first 8 rounds. Pure aggression was not enough to deter the Polish powerhouse from getting a good score or momentum and the first half ended 8-7 in favour of Virtus.Pro.
After the somewhat slow start the diesel engine that powers the Virtus.Plow got on its way and made quick work of the Terrorist side from NiP. Virtus.Pro closed the match by winning 8 rounds in a row. Final scoreline: 16-7 in favour of Virtus.Pro
Group B, Match 1: FNATIC vs. Titan
The match most of the people would think was decided before it even began. The reigning top team of the world, FNATIC, came into this tournament with a period of rest after winning the ESL One Cologne 2015 Major.
The match took place on Cobblestone with FNATIC starting on the Counter-Terrorist side. With a win in the pistol round FNATIC was all set to take control of this match and that is exactly what they did. Steamrolling their way to a 13-2 halftime score, leaving Titan in shambles.
The second half delayed the win for FNATIC by a few rounds due to Titan taking the pistol round. A small bump in the road that did little to steer FNATIC away from a convincing victory over the Frenchmen. FNATIC closed out the game with a 16-6 scoreline.
Group B, Match 2: Team SoloMid vs. Natus Vincere
A slump is probably an accurate way to describe the current state which Na’Vi are in, with disappointing results and apparent internal issues. Team SoloMid had a decent run at the ESL One Cologne 2015 Major after not putting up the best performance during the Intel Extreme Masters Cologne gamescom tournament.
After the bans, Overpass was the map to be played with Na’Vi starting on the Counter-Terrorist side. A map that has historically done Na’Vi well, but with a loss in the pistol round the challenge was set. TSM managed to put up a remarkable Terrorist side with executes and aim duels, this led to a 9-6 scoreline in favour of TSM.
The second half didn’t last long enough for Na’Vi to get their methodical executes going. TSM played a strong and aggressive defence with many pushes far away from the safety of the bombsites. This all paid off for TSM as they closed out the second half with a 16-10 scoreline.
Group A, Match 3: Team EnVyUs vs. Virtus.Pro
A break during the Group B matches didn’t stop the diesel that powered Virtus.Pro through their win over NiP. Their form remained the same whilst Team EnVyUs was unable to convert their momentum from winning against Cloud9 into a back-to-back sweep.
The map was decided to be Cache with Virtus.Pro starting on the Terrorist side. A map on which VP has close to double the amount of games played compared to EnVy where either team has around a 60-65% win rate. With the pistol round going VP’s way the Poles started trucking, putting up an insane 15-0 first half. Any momentum the French squad might’ve had coming into this match was surely gone.
Come second half EnVy could do nothing more but take the match one round at a time and that’s exactly what they did. Clawing back into the match under constant match point pressure they played fast and aggressive Counter-Strike, in an attempt to overwhelm the Polish side of VP. This strategy worked up until the point where VP had a full buy in their pocket and they closed out the game 16-7. Virtus.Pro are the first team to advance to the Quarter-finals.
Group A, Match 4: Cloud9 vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas
Crunch time, this was the first match that decided who was staying and who was flying home. After a good performance against the French powerhouse the Cloud9 squad went into this match slight favourites over the struggling Ninjas in Pyjamas. The Swedes came in after a rather one-sided loss against Virtus.Pro and this was their last chance to put on a show and extend their tournament life.
The map that shouts Counter-Strike was the stage on which the decision was going to be made, with Cloud9 starting on the Terrorist side. With a pistol round under their belt Cloud9 set the pace for the first half, pulling off swift bomb site takes. The Ninjas responded with f0rest and GeT_RiGhT showing some of the magic, f0rest took out four Cloud9 players single-handedly with his AWP, that made them famous. The first half ended 9-6 in Cloud9’s favour.
With an A focused Terrorist side the Ninjas started clawing back at the score set by Cloud9. NiP pulled off many bomb site takes purely by out aiming the Cloud9 squad, combined with the old school magic from f0rest and GeT_RiGhT seeping through more and more each round. The second half ended in a draw which meant that the game went into overtime.
Momentum was the keyword for this match and it was completely in favour of the Swedes. They quickly dealt with the overtime, dropping only 1 round, and closed out the game 19-16 giving themselves another shot at staying in the tournament whilst they sent Cloud9 home.
Group B, Match 3: FNATIC vs. Team SoloMid
FNATIC was the team to beat at ESL One Cologne 2015 and that was the same for this tournament. But like everything in life the superstars had a kryptonite in the form of TSM. The only team to consistently take games away from FNATIC had another opportunity to do so with this match.
With the sandy paths of Dust 2 as the setting FNATIC started on the Counter-Terrorist side. With fire in their play TSM started off strong winning 8 consecutive rounds, mostly through anticipating the aggression that FNATIC tried to pull off. It looked like TSM had FNATIC’s number and was calling to say goodbye. FNATIC managed to counter the anticipating playstyle TSM employed by adjusting their aggression, with Jesper “JW” Wecksell dancing through Molotovs to catch TSM off guard. The first half ended 9-6 in favour of TSM.
FNATIC had a challenge up ahead for their Terrorist side and they managed to turn the match into a brawl. This worked in their favour as they picked up many rounds. The ability to change their playstyle on the fly also showed with olofmeister picking up the AWP over JW. Where TSM had FNATIC’s CT-side playstyle covered they weren’t able to achieve the same level of control against the T-side. A 15-15 scoreline was the result.
In the overtime we saw TSM come out stronger overall, with a T-side that really showed full knowledge of the way FNATIC played CT-side Dust 2. It all resulted in an overtime win for TSM with a 19-17 scoreline.
Group B, Match 4: Titan vs. Natus Vincere
The second stay-or-go match of the day. As the French squad had to face the favourites in their first match they were motivated to achieve a result in this match. Facing off against the struggling Na’Vi they had a decent shot at winning. Na’Vi isn’t a team you can ever count out, known for pulling off bombsite executes with only 15 seconds left, with tons of experience they are always a threat.
With Cobblestone being picked once again Titan started off on the Terrorist side. With one of the best AWP players in the world Na’Vi started the first half off with a lot of force buys, never saving their money for the more powerful arsenal. Kévin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans led his team to a comfortable lead because of the advantages the AK-47 has over pistols like the CZ-75 and Five-seven. First half scoreline 10-5 in favour of Titan.
Come second half and the Frenchmen put the heat to Na’Vi, winning 5 rounds in a row and putting them on match point. Na’Vi managed to fend off the flames for a short while, trying to reclaim the grip on their tournament life. It was all too late however and Titan managed to close out the last round they needed. Result 16-10 in favour of Titan.
Join us today at 10:15 AM (CEST) for day 2 of the ESL ESEA Pro League Dubai Invitational. You can join us at @ESLCS, in the conversation on social media by using #CSGOProLeague. For all important information about the event, head over to the official website.