In an unsurprising turn of events, Movistar lost again. The new contenders DBL Poney are showing they are more than a ‘meme-team’, Anonymo and Sangal are finally on the server and there were lots of comebacks. This last week of ESEA Season 38 Premier was exciting to watch as all matches could have gone either way.
ESEA Season 38 EU Premier – Group A
Opening the fixtures for Group A, we had DBL Poney against Sprout and sAw vs. ENTERPRISE. As the season gets going after the player break, teams are starting to find their rhythm and games can fall to either side. That’s what happened in almost every Group A game.
The Poneys and newly-international Sprout started their 3 map affair on Vertigo, picked by the French, the map in which they have the highest win rate percentage. This game only reinforced that. With a strong T-side, which DBL Poney won 11-4, the second half only showcased how the map has gotten more Terrorist-friendly. Despite that, the Frenchmen got their pick 16-10 and went on to Dust2. But the German org wasn’t too keen on getting swept against a recently promoted team and so, on the back of Josef ‘faveN’ Baumann and Rasmus ‘raalz’ Steensborg, Sprout won their pick 16-12 after an intense map. The decider, Nuke, shocked everyone. After winning the pistol round, it seemed Sprout couldn’t do anything right and DBL Poney seemed to do no wrong. 13-2 in favor of the poneys on their CT-side and 16-2 after 3 quick second half rounds sealed the first win of the season for the French and the first loss for the Germans. DBL Poney are starting to pick up their pace. There’s more about them later in this article.
sAw vs. ENTERPRISE followed. The Portuguese are going through a rough patch (let’s see how they do after the new roster move) and they were looking to get their maiden win of the season against a weaker team on paper. ENTERPRISE, on the other hand, were trying to use the bad form of sAw to get some momentum after losing against Akuma. The first map was Vertigo, picked by sAw, and it was a quick one. 16-5 was the scoreline for the Portuguese in a map where all of their five players came alive and shut down the Slovakian org. Next up was Inferno, usually a balanced map and, despite the first-half ending 5-10 in favor of ENTERPRISE, this was no exception. sAw tried to come back, got close, but couldn’t quite do it. The map ended 16-11 and the series got tied up as we headed to Ancient to decide the winner. Ancient is widely understood as a very CT-sided map, but this match showed otherwise. Both teams got 10 rounds as Terrorists and 5 as Counter-terrorists, needing 2 overtimes in order to claim someone as a victor. sAw came out on top 22-20 mostly thanks to good performances from Tiago ‘JUST’ Moura and Christopher ‘MUTiRiS’ Fernandes. Renato ‘stadodo’ Gonçalves was also a key player for the Portuguese as he got a 1.33 rating and 73 kills across the 3 maps.
The second day of games for Group A had Blink take on Sangal and Akuma vs. Apeks. Despite going the length, Blink vs. Sangal was a relatively fast match. The first map, picked by the Turkish, was Dust2. After a balanced first-half, 7-8 to Blink, the game took a sharp turn in favor of Sangal. 16-9 was the final result, as the Kosovar-Albanians only put up one round in the second half. Next up was Mirage and another blow-out was in the books. This time it was not just in one half: the scoreboard read 16-2 as Blink completely destroyed Sangal, in a map where Flatron ‘juanflatroo’ Halimi got a staggering 2.08 rating. Sangal went to the Inferno decider a bit shaky after Mirage. 11 rounds to Blink as T would make it even harder for the Turkish to come back. The map ended 16-7 to Blink as the Albanian-based org got their second win of the season and Sangal started with a loss.
The supposed last match of the week for the group saw the recently promoted Akuma getting swept by the experienced Apeks. The first map was Overpass and it had to be decided in overtime as both teams won a half 8-7. This was one of those maps that could have gone either way, but in the end, Apeks got away with a 19-17 win in their pick. Nuke was the next map, and, to our surprise, the Swedish group looked stronger than in their own pick, shutting down the Ukrainians T-side and putting up 5 rounds on their T side. 16-9 was the final score on Nuke. Asger ‘AcilioN’ Larsen, the most recent addition to the Apeks squad was crucial in both maps and by most accounts was the MVP of the match.
To finally end Group A, we had the second match of the week for DBL Poney and Sangal. This game was supposed to happen the week prior but got postponed due to tech issues. This series was another 2-0 sweep but with both maps going the distance. Inferno, picked by Sangal, went to overtime after two 12-3 halves. After a comeback in the second half, the Poneys kept their foot on the gas and finished the map 19-17. Up next was DBL Poney’s map pick, their old reliable Nuke, in which they haven’t lost in 2 months. They kept their streak and won it yet again in a close fashion. After being down 14-8, the Frenchmen mounted another comeback and turned the score around to a 16-14 after some great rounds from Alexandre ‘bodyy’ Pianaro. Now, the Poneys sit atop of the group and Sangal continues winless.
ESEA Season 38 EU Premier – Group B
In Group B the trend of close matches continued. After 3 weeks of games, only 1 has finished 2-0.
Day 1 of week 3 had AGO vs. SKADE, a match between last year’s 2nd placement and a recently promoted team. Both teams won their map pick. Nuke for AGO was closer than they wanted as it finished 16-14. Mirage followed and SKADE were determined to tie the series as they entered the server with anger. After a 12-3 half a comeback from the Polish was a mirage as they could only get 9 rounds on the board making it 16-9 and letting the Bulgarians tie the series up. The decider was Dust2, AGO’s best map and it showed. Despite an 8-7 half with SKADE as Terrorists and AGO as Counter-Terrorists, the second-half was dominated by the Polish squad. SKADE only found a lonely round in a T-side led by Karol ‘rallen’ Rodowicz who got a 2.59 rating in the latter half of the last map. The 2-1 win for AGO means they stand with a perfect record of 3-0 handed SKADE their third loss.
The next day, we had a doubleheader in Group B as Wisla Kraków faced GamerLegion while Anonymo, who finally got their first game, battled Movistar.
The Kraków based team looked set to sweep the majority Swedish team after an overtime win in GamerLegion’s pick, Mirage. However, after an amazing 10-5 first half, the Polish disappeared from the server and allowed GL to come back into the map and the series. The German located org won Wisla’s pick 16-14. The teams went to Ancient in order to finish business and, mostly thanks to Kuba ‘Markos’ Markowski and Tomasz ‘phr’ Wójcik, it ended in favor of Wisla Kraków 16-11. 2-1 for the Polish team means they continue undefeated and GamerLegion got their first loss of the season.
As the final game of group B, we had Anonymo’s debut and Movistar Riders’ third game. There were no expectations for Anonymo because they only had played one match since the ESEA Premier Season 37 Europe Relegation, but the team looked solid fighting the Spanish org. The first map, Mirage, picked by the Polish squad, ended at an uneventful 16-12. Next was an Overpass pick from Movistar that seemed dismal for the Riders after an 8-7 half. But then the Spanish had an amazing 9-2 second-half to tie the series. The match headed to Vertigo, where expectations shifted a lot. Movistar entered the server with the momentum from the last map and at the half, the scoreboard read 12-3 in favor of the Riders. Anonymo had a mountain to climb, and they started to climb it. After 9 consecutive round-wins, the Polish had tied the map 12-12 and now it was Movistar’s game to lose. The Spanish still showed some life as they made it 12-13, but Piotr ‘blacktear5’ Kasinski & co. showed no signs of stopping and finished the series 16-13. With this result, Anonymo won their debut and made Movistar suffer their third loss.