Question Mark, Na`Vi with EEPL wins
The final two matches of day one of the ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals saw Europe assert its Counter-Strike dominance, with Question Mark defeating CLG (16-12 on de_mirage and 16-6 on de_inferno) and Na`Vi beating Luminosity (16-5 on de_dust2 and 19-15 on de_inferno).
The Group B opening games took place in the Californian evening and the opening match was a best-of-three between Question Mark (or ex-TSM to those not yet familiar with the temporary placeholder name for the Danish team) and CLG.
With CLG and ex-TSM having met last at IEM Gamescom and with the Danes having secured two comfortable map wins back then, the pressure was on for CLG to play their A game, especially since the two other North American teams of Liquid and Conquest had lost earlier.
device and QuestDen Mark shut down CLG
With the first map being de_mirage, CLG continued to prove that they could play ball on the map's CT side and racked up a 10-5 half with James "hazed" Cobb and Josh "jdm64" Marzano acting as the pointmen.
The Danes of Question Mark are not known as some of the strongest CT_sided players in the game however and Finn "karrigan" Andersen and his men answered in kind with a dominant 11-2 defense on de_mirage to take the map 16-12.
de_inferno was much more of a whitewash with Question Mark picking up 10 T-side rounds on perhaps the most CT-sided map currently in the game and this trend continued on the team's CT half as Question Mark secured a 16-6 map win and 2-0 victory.
K - D
Nicolai 'device' Reedtzdevice
54 - 24
Andreas 'Xyp9x' HøjslethXyp9x
40 - 25
Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussendupreeh
32 - 31
René 'cajunb' Borgcajunb
29 - 28
Finn 'karrigan' Andersenkarrigan
29 - 35
The final match of the night was between Natus Vincere and Luminosity and this match-up has a storied history behind it with Na`Vi most recently edging out Luminosity at both DreamHack Cluj-Napoca and IEM San Jose in extremely close series (either maps going to overtime or being two to three rounds apart).
The first map choice was Na`Vi's pick and it was de_dust2, a map which the Eastern European team does not mind playing and which is also one where Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács's AWPing can be put to potent effect.
With Sergey "starix" Ischuk leading from behind as coach, Na`Vi put up a 10-5 CT half and then powered ahead with six straight T-side wins to secure the map 16-5.
de_inferno at first appeared as a map where Luminosity would burst out the gate with Lincoln "fnx" Lau and Marcelo "coldzera" David getting a 3K and a 2K respectively on the opening pistol round to give Luminosity a crucial CT-side opening round.
Na`Vi sealed European victory on day one of EEPL S2
However, extremely effective pistol challenges by Na`Vi on their pistol-buy (including a Deagle, P250, and TEC-9 on display) meant that the European team managed to eco Luminosity and suddenly press forward with their own displays of momentum.
The first half continued to swing back and forth with Luminosity closing out with an 8-7 advantage, a bad prognosis for the team going into their T-side on de_inferno.
However, such a prognosis was premature as, following Na`Vi taking pistol and moving up to an 11-8 scoreline, Luminosity began to claw their way back until the score was equalised at 12-12.
The next round GuardiaN helped shut down A-site and moved Na`Vi up to 13-12, which forced Luminosity to call a tactical timeout.
Both teams then went tit-for-tat, taking rounds from each other up until the score stood at 14-14. Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev picked up crucial kills to give Na`Vi match point, however fnx won a one-versus-two in the thirtieth round to bring the game to overtime.
Na`Vi suddenly activated a higher tier of play and, following a perfect 3-0 CT defense, got the proper entries on B-site of their first T round to take the map 19-15 and the series 2-0.
K - D
Egor 'flamie' Vasilyevflamie
54 - 26
Ladislav 'GuardiaN' KovácsGuardiaN
45 - 30
Denis 'seized' Kostinseized
35 - 28
Danylo 'Zeus' TeslenkoZeus
36 - 41
Ioann 'Edward' SukharievEdward
32 - 32
All four European teams therefore managed to win 2-0 victories over their Americas-based challengers on the first day of the ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 finals.
Action kicks off tomorrow at 19:00 with a mouth-watering duel between EnVyUs and fnatic to decide who advances as first seed out of Group A.
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter