Astralis topped a stacked Group D as the initial stages of this year’s ELEAGUE Premier Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament came to a close this past weekend, and will be joined by fellow Danish side Heroic in the playoff bracket later this month. Let’s take a look at how it all played out.
ELEAGUE holds many happy memories for Astralis, who were beaten finalists in Season 2 in 2016 before winning the ELEAGUE Major in January, and comfortable surroundings seemed to help the Danes shake off the inconsistency they’ve shown in recent tournaments, as they began with a strong 16-11 win over in-form Team Liquid, who made it all the way to the grand finals of ESL One New York last month.
Astralis did most of the work in the first half, blowing Liquid away on CT side on Overpass, and while their opponents rallied after the break, they were still able to close it out with room to spare. Kjaerbye and co then faced a local derby, albeit on foreign soil, as they faced down Heroic. But playing on Train – the map where they clinched the Major in scintillating fashion nine months ago – they were unstoppable, destroying their opponents 16-2.
Astralis now head to the playoffs in good form and they will be pleased to have avoided FaZe Clan’s side of the bracket. The Danes’ quarterfinal is against Fnatic on October 10, and if they win that then they will set up a semifinal against either Cloud9 or G2 Esports.
The rest of Group D was kind of crazy, with Heroic eventually securing the second playoff spot after beating SK Gaming twice. Heroic stomped all over SK on Train in their first meeting, winning 16-5 in a match that showed up all the challenges the Brazilians currently face. Coupled with Liquid’s defeat to Astralis, that meant that SK Gaming vs Team Liquid was the first elimination match.
Liquid began strongly, with a powerful T side on Inferno that allowed them to clinch the first game 16-8, but SK responded well on Overpass, winning by the same scoreline. It all came down to Mirage, where both teams have been deadly in the past, and this one was tight. Liquid made it to halftime narrowly ahead on CT, but SK matched them after the turnaround, sending the game into overtime. Unfortunately for Liquid, SK had just enough to squeeze out a win, taking the last game of the series 19-17 to win 2-1.
Coldzera and his teammates looked to ride that momentum into a return match against Heroic, and began well with a strong second-half finish on Overpass that gave them a convincing 16-8 vicotry margin. But any SK fans hoping this might spark a resurgence from the Brazilian squad, who looked so good at times in the first half of 2017, found their hopes quickly dashed as Heroic took full control of the series on Inferno, winning 16-5. Heroic then stormed ahead again on Mirage in the deciding game, leaving SK with too much to do in the second half. The final score was 16-8, completing a 2-1 win that meant SK would be the first properly high-profile casualty of a fairly predictable ELEAGUE Premier group stage.
Looking ahead to playoffs
That result means we now know the full line-up of teams who will enter the G-FUEL ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta next week, October 10-13, for the playoff bracket and a chance to win $500,000 of the $1m prize pool. Here’s the full line-up of matches:
- Cloud9 vs G2 Esports – October 10, 14:00 EDT / 11:00 PDT
- Astralis vs Fnatic – October 10, 16:30 EDT / 13:30 PDT
- FaZe Clan vs Team EnVyUs – October 11, 14:00 EDT / 11:00 PDT
- North vs Heroic – October 11, 16:30 EDT / 13:30 PDT
Astralis definitely had the toughest path to the quarterfinals, and although Fnatic, Cloud9 and G2 would all be tough opponents, the Danes will appreciate avoiding FaZe Clan at this stage. If they can put together wins over the new-look Fnatic and then either Cloud9 or G2 Esports, they are definitely in with a chance of at least repeating their feat of making last year’s ELEAGUE Season 2 Grand Finals.
Whether they can add to their trophy haul this year remains to be seen, but you can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye on proceedings.