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Favorites open ESL Pro League: Europe playoffs with wins

Despite being off for 10 days, the top seeds at the ESL Pro League Season 12: Europe event went a perfect 3-0 on the opening day of the playoffs Tuesday.

Even so, they needed to shake off a little rust.

Natus Vincere, who tied for the best regular-season record at 6-1 and won Group A, needed to pull off a reverse sweep in order to get by mousesports 2-1 while Group B runner-up Complexity Gaming needed to do the same to beat Group A No. 3 seed ENCE 2-1. BIG was the day’s other winner, the Group A second seed sweeping Group B’s third seed, Team Spirit, 2-0.

The $450,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event began with 16 teams divided into two groups for round-robin play. The top four teams from each group advanced to the double-elimination playoffs.

All matches are best-of-three except for the Sunday final, which will be best-of-five. The team coming out of the upper bracket will start with a one-map advantage in the title match.

Against Group B fourth-place finisher mousesports, Na’Vi dropped Nuke 16-5 to open the match, then looked headed for the lower bracket as they trailed 10-5 at halftime on Dust2. But Na’Vi captured eight of the first 11 rounds in the second half to tie the match at 13-13, fell behind 14-13, then ran off three straight rounds to win 16-14.

Na’Vi looked like it would run away on the deciding map, Inferno, winning 13 of the first 14 rounds. But mousesports rallied to win 10 straight rounds and 12 of 13. Na’Vi, however, avoided disaster by winning the final two rounds for a 16-13 win.

The match was very close statistically, with all five mousesports players finishing with at least 40 kills (compared to four for Na’Vi) and three mousesports players finishing with a positive kill-death differential (Na’Vi had two). Na’Vi’s Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev of Ukraine led all players with 78 kills and a plus-27 differential. Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras of Lithuania topped mousesports with 71 kills and a plus-22 differential.

Complexity won the first two rounds on Train to open their match, then won only four more the rest of the way in losing 16-6. ENCE prevailed on six of the first seven rounds on Mirage, but Complexity then took 12 of 13 rounds to grab control and ultimately win 16-13. The final map, Overpass, was a runaway as Complexity led 10-5 at the break and won 16-6.

Bulgaria’s Valentin “poizon” Vasilev led all players with 63 kills for Complexity, and teammate Benjamin “blameF” Bremer of Denmark posted a plus-16 differential. Miikka “suNny” Kemppi’s 60 kills and Aleksi “allu” Jalli’s plus-9 led the all-Finnish ENCE squad.

Unlike the other two favorites, BIG wasted little time in asserting its dominance, beating Spirit 16-9 on both Inferno and Nuke. Germany’s Florian “syrsoN” Rische dominated the match with 52 kills (14 more than any other player) and a plus-27 differential (25 better than anyone else) to lead BIG. Russia’s Nikolay “mir” Bityukov led Spirit with 38 kills and a plus-2 differential.

The final upper-bracket match, Group B champion Astralis (the other 6-1 team) against Group A fourth-place finisher Heroic, is the first of two matches scheduled for Wednesday.

ENCE will face mousesports in the first elimination match of the event in the other Wednesday match. The two upper-bracket semifinals will be played Thursday.

ESL Pro League Season 12: Europe prize pool and BLAST Premier points. Listed payouts for eliminated teams include base prize plus a $4,000 bonus for every group-stage win. Listed payouts for places to be determined are base prize before bonus money.
1st: $75,000, 2,000 points
2nd: $30,000, 1,000
3rd: $18,000, 625
4th: $14,000, 625
5th-6th: $11,500, 0
7th-8th: $9,000, 0
9th-10th: $20,000, 0 — OG; $20,000, 0 — Team Vitality
11th-12th: $15,000, 0 — G2 Esports; $19,000, 0 — Fnatic
13th-14th: $13,000, 0 — AGO; $13,000, 0 — FaZe Clan
15th-16th: $12,000, 0 — GODSENT: $8,000, 0 — Ninjas in Pyjamas

–Field Level Media

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