9z shock VP to send them crashing out of EPL
It was a hard-fought series, but 9z maintained composure down the stretch.
9z have completed one of the biggest upsets of this season of ESL Pro League, defeating Virtus.pro 2-1 to send the Russian side home. 9z battled to a tight win on Mirage (16-14), dropped Inferno (10-16), before closing the series out on Overpass (16-14).
Maximiliano "max" Gonzalez took some time out after the inspirational victory to speak on the broadcast about what it means to his team. "This means a lot. We played against them a lot of times and couldn’t win, we continued to put hard work into ourselves, and now it’s all worth it."
It genuinely could have been a 2-0 series in 9z’s favor, considering the number of favorable situations they squandered on Inferno. max provided impact frags throughout the series and Santino "try" Rigal also produced a couple of highlight plays with the AWP to help guide the team forwards.
|ESL Pro League Season 18|
9z came in hot on their map choice of Mirage, kicking off their T side by successfully forcing after losing the pistol. The South Americans ran out to a 5-1 lead off the back of this, only for Dzhami "Jame" Ali and Petr "fame" Bolyshev to awake and turn the tide. The duo repeatedly found multi-kills, fending off site takes or successfully pushing through retakes, earning a 9-6 lead for Virtus.pro at halftime.
Virtus.pro’s T side began in slow and ponderous fashion, their crawling defaults finding little traction. 9z had an easy time finding assertive opening moves, and then falling back into crossfires that were tough for Virtus.pro to break. When the South Americans got to 13 rounds Virtus.pro took an all-important timeout, after which the Russians switched to a faster-paced, more execute-heavy style. This garnered some success, but it was too little, too late for Virtus.pro, and 9z clinched a 16-14 victory.
Inferno came next, and Virtus.pro were much more comfortable on their own map pick. They had to deal with losing the pistol to kick off their offensive effort, but once guns came up, the Russian side were firmly in control. 9z did find themselves in a few advantageous situations, but they were outplayed in the mid-round time and time again, which allowed Virtus.pro to rack up a 9-6 lead heading into the second period.
Virtus.pro ran with a CT pistol win all the way to 13 to start the second half, and 9z had simply too much of a mountain to climb. The South Americans did manage to string some rounds together with their grouped-up, brute force approach, but Virtus.pro earned a relatively comfortable 16-10 win to force a decider.
The first half of Overpass was a tense affair, with 9z running out to a 4-0 lead on their defense, only for Virtus.pro to start steadily reeling them in. Virtus.pro were better in the gun rounds, probing and testing 9z’s defense with a variety of different looks. 9z managed to pick up isolated round wins, and finished the half with a wacky half-buy win to enter the second half at a mere 7-8 deficit.
9z won their offensive pistol thanks to an impactful 3k from max, and the Uruguayan continued to provide important frags as his team started to build a lead. At 12-8, Virtus.pro began to get on top of their defense, and they won a half-buy of their own to keep things close, but 9z kept their composure and exploited the B bombsite time after time, ensuring a tight 16-14 win to close the series.
|Virtus.pro||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|61 - 36||+25||70.5||1.24|
|54 - 54||0||75.1||1.04|
|54 - 55||-1||62.4||0.97|
|50 - 56||-6||65.3||0.94|
|45 - 58||-13||70.7||0.92|