(Photo credit: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Eternal Fire and MOUZ each pulled off sweeps Wednesday to lead four teams in advancing to the quarterfinals of the ESL Pro League Season 18 playoffs in Saint Julian's, Malta.
Eternal Fire eliminated BIG 2-0 while MOUZ did the same to FaZe Clan by a 2-0 score. The day's other two Round of 16 matches each went the full three maps, with Monte taking out Complexity Gaming 2-1 and Movistar Riders ousting 9z Team 2-1.
The $850,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event began with 32 teams broken up into four groups of eight. Group-stage winners advanced to the quarterfinals; runners-up advanced to the Round of 12 as the high seeds; third-place teams advanced to the Round of 16 as the high seeds; and fourth-place teams advanced to the Round of 16 as the low seeds.
The group stage is triple elimination with upper, middle and lower brackets. All matches are best-of-three until the grand final, which is best-of-five.
The tournament runs through Sunday. The winner earns $200,000 and qualifies for the 2024 IEM Katowice event and the 2023 BLAST World Final.
On Wednesday, Eternal Fire opened on Vertigo and were two points from defeat until scoring the final six in a 16-14 comeback win. Similarly, Eternal Fire closed with the final four points in taking Anubis 16-10 for the match. Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dortkardes carried the all-Turkish Eternal Fire with 50 kills and a dominant plus-18 kills-to-deaths differential. Germany's David "prosus" Hesse had 40 kills for BIG.
MOUZ broken open a tight first map against FaZe with an 8-2 run to win 16-10 on Mirage. MOUZ then blew up on Inferno, scoring 16 of the last 18 points on the match in a 16-5 rout for the sweep. Israel's Dorian "xertioN" Berman led all players with 45 kills, while Finnish teammate Jimi "Jimpphat" Salo posted a plus-17 K/D ratio.
Monte had a tougher time advancing. They cruised in the opener, winning 16-7 on Ancient, but Complexity jumped to leads of 10-0 and 15-2 in a 16-9 victory on Overpass to even the match. The deciding map (Anubis) went to Monte, who held off a late rally for a 16-12 win to move on. Volodymyr "Woro2k" Veletniuk of Ukraine starred for Monte with 68 kills and a plus-25 K/D differential, while American Michael "Grim" Wince delivered 50 kills in defeat.
The final quarterfinal berth went to the Riders, who tallied the last three points on Nuke for a 16-13 win and 1-0 lead. 9z fought back, using 6-0 and 7-0 spurts for a tying 16-12 win on Anubis. Riders, down 9-8 on Ancient, ran off the final eight points for a 16-9 triumph. Spain's Antonio "Martinez" Martinez recorded match highs with 68 kills and a plus-25 K/D ratio for the victors. Nicolas "buda" Kramer of Argentina had 62 kills for 9z.
The playoffs pick up again Thursday with two quarterfinal matches:
--Team Vitality vs. Monte
--Natus Vincere vs. Eternal Fire
ESL Pro League Season 18 prize pool
1. $200,000, 3,000 BLAST Premier points -- TBD
2. $90,000, 2,000 BLAST points -- TBD
3-4. $50,000, 1,200 points -- TBD
5-8. $35,000, 500 points -- TBD
9-12. $25,000 -- Complexity Gaming, BIG, 9z Team, FaZe Clan
13-16. $20,000 -- Fnatic, Astralis, Virtus.pro, FURIA Esports
17-20. $15,000 -- Gamer Legion, MIBR, 5yclone, Team Liquid
21-28. $8,000 -- Ninjas in Pyjamas, Grayhound Gaming, Heroic, Evil Geniuses, Imperial Esports, Apeks, Cloud9, Lynn Vision Gaming
29-32. $4,000 -- ORKS, Rooster, M80, 9INE
--Field Level Media