With one of the biggest non-major events of the calendar out of the way, we finally got a chance to see some of the top teams competing alongside one another in a strong format. The ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals told us more about the lay of the land in CS:GO than anything else since the major – here are the winners and losers of the showdown in Montpellier.
This one goes without saying, but spare a thought to the impressive streak of the North Americans so far this year. By IEM Sydney, they’ve already matched Astralis’ non-major results for 2019, and they’ve gone from strength to strength since then. The whole “choking” thing is beginning to look like an outdated meme, and while we were all trying to figure out whether they’re a worthy number one, Liquid have quietly built up a resumé worthy of all-time greats and could very well take down the second season of the Intel Grand Slam in blisteringly quick fashion off the back of it.
There’s no metric left by which you could judge Astralis as the best team in CS:GO currently, though the Danes’ ceiling is inarguably higher than anything we’ve ever seen in the game so far. This is rapidly losing relevance as they’ve failed to impress on their return to the serious Counter-Strike circuit, and the schadenfreude is very much deserved due to the incredible arrogance they’ve displayed amid the controversies. They were undoubtedly the best team we’ve ever seen in 2018 and their peak last year is still beyond any other side, but it remains to be seen whether they can even come close to replicating that form.
For the first time since Jan 2017, there are 2 French teams in the top ten on the HLTV rankings, and it is all the more fitting that this has been achieved at a prestigious LAN taking place in France. Vitality clearly established themselves as an elite side and G2 are showing more signs of life than ever before in the history of the project.
Another early elimination by FalleN’s team off the back of weak showings finally prompted a roster move, and though they were unable to poach anyone from the exciting FURIA side, their showings were so bad that a change is a positive by itself. This is how far they’ve… wait for it… fallen.
Say what you will, young ropz, but the hype is real about your team now. It remained a matter of discussion whether the team has a high enough ceiling to compete against the top dogs, and they’ve clearly proven that with their semi-final finish at the event. They did a decent job against Liquid in their eventual loss, and what was once considered a great liability for this side – the lack of age and experience in their core – can turn out to be a fantastic asset if they can keep the internal harmony going longer than karrigan’s previous teams managed to. His revenge against FaZe must have been a highlight of the tournament.
Once the arch-villains of the CS:GO community, ESL have done a great job restoring their brand over the last year or so with the development of an excellent format which only makes minor concessions to length with an opening best-of-one set followed by an ironclad double-elimination bracket preceding the playoffs. They’ve also managed to put up two of the best non-major events lineup-wise for the summer with the Pro League Finals (itself already increased in prestige due to the LAN groups) and ESL One Cologne.