Astralis advance to EPL Group D fourth-place decider over Spirit
The Danes will play Liquid on Sunday at 19:30 for a chance to make the ESL Pro League Season 17 playoffs.
Astralis are through to the ESL Pro League Season 17 Group D fourth-place decider after getting revenge over Spirit, who defeated the Danes in the group's opening round. The Danish lineup needed all three maps to get the job done, conceding their pick of Nuke (12-16) before replying with hard-fought showings on Mirage (16-14) and Ancient (16-12).
Astralis now need to reign supreme in another matchup on Sunday in order to make it to the bracket stage, which runs from March 21-26, as Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander and company are set to duke it out versus Liquid at 19:30 .
|ESL Pro League Season 17|
The two teams, who used to be bitter rivals back in 2018-2019, haven't met in the server since the PGL Antwerp Major Challengers Stage in May 2022, where Nick "nitr0" Cannella's men prevailed in a hotly-contested two-map affair to eliminate the Danes from the Valve-sponsored event. The stakes remain high for the two teams in this upcoming matchup, with the winner picking up the last of 16 playoff berths and the losing team heading home in 17-20th place.
Astralis took Spirit to Nuke to kick off their series, a likely pick given the Russians had only mustered two wins across their past 10 outings on the map. The Danes prevailed in a back-and-forth battle for control to get the series going, using their weaponry superiority to climb to a 5-2 lead on the T-side. Pavel "s1ren" Ogloblin gunned down three in a stalwart hold of the A bombsite to get Spirit back in the swing of things, only conceding one more round for the remainder of the half to sport a comfortable three-round buffer at the side swap.
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth flipped the script with a round-winning grenade kill at the outset of the second half, and the Danes jumped at the opportunity to regain the lead following a period of CT-side domination, 12-10. Alas, Spirit returned to their winning ways, a spree made possible by a momentum-shifting triple kill from Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov and his AK-47 in the 23rd round. The Russian-majority troupe ended the map with a clean six-round chain to steal the Danes' pick 16-12 and force a visit to Mirage in the process.
Astralis got off to a hot start on Mirage, with Nicolai "device" Reedtz and Benjamin "blameF" Bremer combining for 17 frags to earn the Danish roster a 5-1 lead on the defensive side. Regardless, much like Nuke, gla1ve and co.'s initial burst of success was a fragile one, allowing Spirit to eat into the deficit once the Russian side was able to stabilize their economy. In the end, Igor "w0nderful" Zhdanov and s1ren joined forces to allow Spirit to trail by just one round at the interval — the Ukrainian sniper and Russian rifler made their presence known with consistent round-on-round impact and team-high fragging outputs (13 and 12 kills, respectively).
The Danes went two for two in Mirage pistol rounds to begin the second period, building on this by being the first to hit double digits and then some, 11-7. A sublime quad-kill defense of the B bombsite by s1ren earned Spirit their first CT-side round and kick-started a run of good form to get the Russians' round tally onto 12. It was at this point that Christian "Buzz" Andersen, who is making his Big Event debut in Malta, turned it up a gear; the Danish youngster won a 1vs2 clutch to get his side back in the driver's seat, before keeping up his heroics (27-18 K-D, 1.33 rating) to eke out a laborious 16-14 victory for his team and force an Ancient decider.
Ancient quickly became an Astralis playground once the deciding map began, with device adding eight kills to his tally only suffering his first death in round seven to earn his team a 5-1 start on the CT-side. Repeated hits of the B bombsite proved to be Astralis' partial undoing, though. The Russians successfully exploded the C4 four rounds on the trot, building up their economy and forcing the Danes into either disadvantageous retakes or constant saves en route to a more recoverable 6-9 half despite the less-than-ideal start.
chopper let his Five-SeveN sing in the 17th round and executed two to steal away the momentum after another Astralis pistol round victory. A superlative 1vs3 ace clutch from blameF, who was the only Dane wielding a rifle in the round, was crucial in allowing Astralis to refind their footing. The Danish ensemble didn't look back from this moment on, cracking the code as they brushed aside their foes all the way to a 16-12 victory, eliminating the Russians as a result.
|Astralis||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|68 - 47||+21||80.0||1.32|
|66 - 43||+23||82.4||1.29|
|65 - 60||+5||81.8||1.13|
|43 - 57||-14||62.0||0.84|
|33 - 62||-29||52.9||0.73|
|Spirit||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|60 - 48||+12||70.5||1.12|
|56 - 53||+3||67.4||1.03|
|54 - 57||-3||70.7||0.96|
|46 - 55||-9||63.1||0.88|
|48 - 66||-18||67.3||0.87|