The ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals have concluded, and we have a new champion. Liquid are now one step closer to the Intel Grand Slam, and seemingly have no intention of stopping. They’re poised to take ESL One Cologne by storm, which would mark the first time an NA team has taken home the trophy in the cathedral of Counter Strike.

“Trophy" Liquid

Liquid have officially cemented their place as number 1 in the world. Their resume since the Katowice Major has been almost spotless, racking up several first place finishes and big wins over top five teams.

At the EPL Finals, Liquid dropped into the Lower Bracket immediately with a loss to North. They went on to drop just three maps in their next six matches, storming the playoff bracket and dominating the field.Liquid have definitely secured the number one spot in the world at this point, and they should be the prohibitive favorites at every tournament they’re attending for the next couple months.

EliGE had an all-star performance, with the best rating at the event. He had a K/D of 1.30 over 17 maps, which is about as good as it gets. Twistzz was close behind him with a 1.22 K/D and a rating of 1.15, who was then followed by NAF.

It seems as though Stewie2k has been put in the tough spot, and he’s taking to it like a fish to water. His rating on Liquid is consistently lower than it was on the Major winning Cloud9 lineup, but that doesn’t seem to bother him, especially since they’re winning.

This team structure is malleable enough though, as the Grand Finals showed. NAF had a tough series, with a negative K/D and a KAST% of 68.8%. Stewie was able to step in and pick up the slack, putting up a rating of 1.11 with a positive K/D.

“Trophy" Mousesports

I can’t tell how impressed I should be with Mousesports after this tournament. They seem to be playing well, and are maturing into a real team, rather than just a collection of mercenaries. On the other hand, their best win at this event was probably a 2-0 win over FaZe? I think there’s honestly an argument for best of three against Liquid being more impressive, as they at least pushed the Americans to overtime on Nuke.

As far as encouraging signs go, woxic playing as well as he did is a big deal for this squad. He is one of the most important win conditions on this roster, along with frozen. This Mousesports roster was billed as a collection of some of the most potent young players in the game, and if this team wants to be successful it will require their big three (woxic, frozen, ropz) to rip people’s heads off.

Their best of three with Liquid is extra impressive because of the monster performance from woxic. That was his first semi-final appearance at a tournament of this size, and he was going toe to toe with the best team in the world right now. That fearlessness is going to be an asset on a team that has historically been devoid of great leaders. Karrigan is one of the best IGLs in the world, but I’m not sure if he has it in him to be the emotional engine that makes this team work.

“Trophy" FaZe Clan

This team weirds me out. They beat North 2-1 at this tournament, and TyLoo 16-12, and lost 0-2 to Mousesports to advance out of their group. Once they made it to the playoffs, they topped off their tournament run with a lifeless 0-2 loss to G2 to send them home.

It seems like they’ve locked in NEO as their IGL for the foreseeable future, which is a strange choice. They still have a talented lineup, NiKo and rain are as good of a one and two as you can find in CS, but the team just seems listless.

I hate to call him out like this, but it feels lie GuardiaN is just kind of hanging out and collecting a check at this point. I imagine we’ll get another roster shuffle after the Major, especially if they can get their hands on a younger, hungrier AWPer.

“Trophy" MIBR

It’s sad days for MIBR fans like myself. The team looks lifeless, floundering on the server until Liquid put them out of their misery. There really isn’t much to say about them, especially because they just made a roster change. MIBR have removed Felps in favor of Lucas1, who they are poaching from Luminosity. There will likely be another piece on here about said roster move in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled.

“Trophy" Astralis

It seems as though Astralis did screw themselves by ducking events for the last five months. They look rusty and uncoordinated, which is not something I thought we’d be saying after the took the Katowice Major (by a pretty wide margin might I add).

I still have problems CSGO betting against these guys. It feels like you could turn their comms off and they still have a shot against most teams. Device, Magisk, Dupreeh, even Xyp9x are all guys that have the ability to pop off in any given game. They all have world beating pedigrees, and I still have hope that they’ll climb back into the top spot by the end of the year.

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