With just three weeks worth of games now left, the fight to avoid relegation at the bottom of the table, and go to the Pro League Finals at the top is having fans of every team nervously shifting in their chairs. Week 11 was a pivotal week for many teams across all three main regions, while APAC took a break in preparation for their regional LAN Finals from the 13th to 14th of April.
Read on to get caught up jf you missed out on the action.
North America - Evil Geniuses in Slight Danger
The week started off in North America, and viewers were treated to an excellent set of games for the evening of April Fools’ Day. With every day, the fight for the top two places gets even more intense, and this week was absolutely no different. Much can still change, with four teams still in the running.
The first game of the evening was between Rogue and Team Reciprocity, and with Rogue once again finding the form they were so desperately searching for in the first half of the seasons, Team Reciprocity faced an strong and immediate threat to their fight to get to Milan.
This time around, the high-flying VertcL was far from the only Rogue member pushing hard for the win. Both Easilyy and Slashug were also forces to be reckoned with, and kept Team Reciprocity honest, matching them at the half 3-3, and later at 5-5 to force the match to go the distance. Once again, though, LaXInG was playing out of his mind for Team Reciprocity, and, with a strong contribution from FoxA, pushed his team to secure three valuable points.
Following this, their top-of-the-table rivals DarkZero Esports took on Excelerate Gaming in a match where Reciprocity must have been hoping would go Excelerate’s way. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for DarkZero and their fans, there was little in Excelerate’s drawer that gave DarkZero more than a moment’s worth of pause.
Nyx was the spearhead for DarkZero, deftly making incisions into his opponents’ defence before bursting through to leave them stunned round after round. Finishing with a 1.30 rating, this was an excellently well-rounded performance from DarkZero that bodes well if they are able to get to the Pro League Finals.
When it comes to the Finals, though, Evil Geniuses may be a team that might miss out -- for the first time in four seasons for them. Going up against the seventh and last placed Rise Nation, expectations were firmly in favour of an Evil Geniuses victory, with not one of the casters in SiegeGG’s weekly predictions giving Rise a chance.
Instead, everyone was treated to an absolute spectacle. Evil Geniuses raced away to a 4-0 lead on defence, and it looked like the night would end somewhat early. Even after Rise answered back with two rounds as they headed into their defense, Evil Geniuses would have been far from worried.
Those two rounds very quickly became six, however, and Evil Geniuses were suddenly staring down the barrel of a defeat. Fortunately, Geoo had been performing at the top of his game that night, and rescued one meagre point for his side to keep his team’s Milan hopes alive. While the situation isn’t dire for them -- they have one game in hand over their rivals, they are sure to be slightly worried at this stage.
The night’s results saw DarkZero move three points clear at the top, needing just a win to feel safe at the top, while Evil Geniuses slipped to third and -- with games against Team Reciprocity and DarkZero coming up -- could find themselves out of contention very soon despite having spent most of the season in the top two spots.
Latin America - A Gap Appears
After two straight weeks of inseparable top four teams, this week’s results finally create a gap between them. Each top four side had been playing a bottom four side, and as such all were expected -- and needed -- to win. Two bottom four teams, though, did not get the memo.
Lead by an absolutely marauding MKing and Novys, Immortals absolutely crushed paiN Gaming in their matchup. While paiN Gaming in fact gave Immortals trouble on a few rounds, they were only able to secure one of them, thanks to fierce opposition from Immortals who added another impressive victory to their tally.
FaZe were far from shy in following in Immortals’ footsteps, and ReD DevilS e-Sports were their unfortunate targets. While not featuring a performance quite as mindblowing as from Immortals, Ion and Astro ensured that they would match the same scoreline that their top four rivals got. ReD DevilS seemed to have absolutely no answer save for on one round, and crashed to yet another defeat.
Next, though, came the party-poopers. High-flying Team Liquid, quarter-finalists at the Six Invitational would have expected little trouble against seventh-placed INTZ e-Sports with two wins this season. It is perhaps an underestimation of this sort that doomed them.
INTZ came out swinging with an excellently handled first round, and never let up. Keeping the pressure on their opponents every step of the way, they would have finally begun to believe after an almost flawless round to get to match point at 6-3. While Team Liquid would get one more round, having only Nesk bringing the fire was far from enough for them, and they slumped to an uncharacteristic 4-7 loss.
Closing out the night were the Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) and Black Dragons, two teams that have alternated in strength every now and then. On this night, though, the two were very evenly matched. NiP’s gamble to replace experience with youth by way of swapping wag for Muuzi seemed to be heavily backfiring at the beginning.
Black Dragons swept to a 3-0 lead, and ended the half 4-2 while on attack. Muuzi was not having a good debut, and it showed in NiP’s performance. Psycho and Kamikaze were miles away from giving up, but they could only rescue a draw after being down 6-3, and give themselves more than a fighting chance to get to Milan.
The results meant that finally, in Latin America, there is an appreciable gap opening up. Immortals leads by two points, FaZe Clan has shot into second place after a disappointing first half of the season. With NiP and Liquid on 19 points, though, and Black Dragons on 15, it is still possible -- however incredibly unlikely -- that Black Dragons beats out Liquid, FaZe and NiP to a LAN spot.
Europe - G2 Esports’ Milan Hopes All But Extinguished
Over in Europe, everyone was watching with bated breaths to find out if Na’Vi would continue on the road of having their roster relegated just half a season after they were signed, if Team Secret would join them, and if G2 Esports would keep on inexorably marching towards the Pro League Finals.
The young night was kicked off by an absolutely stunning result that no one would have expected, or would have even been thinking about. PENTA once again pulled out their titan-killing credentials against Team Empire and gave the rest of the world the proof that the Eastern European players are just human.
Winning the first round but losing the next four would have surely given a shake to PENTA’s confidence level -- especially after they were unable to convert a 5-0 lead against Chaos into even a draw. A fortunately timed rehost, though, seemed to give them the strength that they needed.
Incredibly, they pulled back three rounds in a row to tie the scores, and despite conceding an additional round, saw Blas, Hungry, and RevaN step up to give themselves a much-needed victory. Team Empire, meanwhile, seemed to be at a disadvantage for once, and may need some reevaluation to ensure that they are not similarly surprised in Milan next month.
The upsets continued, as G2 Esports finally slipped up after their Six Invitational win, dropping three valuable points that Team Secret very gratefully collected. With Team Secret having got only two wins so far this season -- albeit one against G2 Esports -- one would have been forgiven for expecting Secret to go down.
Team Secret, though, had no plans of playing into audience expectations. They swept to a 4-2 lead on defence, and did not let up the pressure on G2, going up to 6-3 deeper into the game. Despite G2 threatening a comeback, Team Secret held on, lead by Elemzje, and secured a very important win for themselves.
Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) were up next, and their fans would have been hoping that their team would be able to replicate Team Secret’s heroics. Chaos, though, were ready for whatever the Germans brought to the table.
Despite close losses to LeStream Esports and Team Empire in the previous two weeks, and a draw against PENTA, it was Chaos that they struggled the most against. The Swedes were matching Na’Vi blow-for-blow while on defence, but when it came to attack, they simply blew their opponents’ socks off and took home a convincing 7-3 victory.
Rounding things out for the week were mousesports and LeStream Esports, and the latter moved one step closer to confirming their flights to Milan this week. Undefeated after the mid-season break, they had no intentions of letting their streak come to an end.
For their part, mouz looked firmly poised in the driver’s seat as the teams swapped roles. Two rounds in a row at the start of the half were followed by another two rounds at the end to go up 4-2. LeStream, though, would prove to be even stronger on defence, winning all five rounds played to shut mousesports’ attacks down, and take home the victory 7-4.
As a result, Chaos rocketed to third place this week ahead of G2 Esports, who require an absolute miracle to get to Milan at this stage. For that to happen, second-placed LeStream Esports will need to lose all their following matches, and G2 will have to win all of theirs with Chaos having to also stay out of the way. At the bottom of the table, though, Team Secret moved ahead of Na’Vi, who are now at the risk of getting auto-relegated.
And so, that’s the roundup of the fourth week after the mid-season break in Season 9 of the Pro League as we saw competition heat up and tighten in all four regions. Keep an eye out on SiegeGG for more Pro League updates and results as we get closer to the Season 9 Finals in Milan.