ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals Recap
Despite a strong online season the offline finals in Dallas proved to be too much for the Renegades CS:GO team to handle, crashing out in 9th-12th place and taking home $22,000.
In Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunovic’s final event as coach for RNG the boys were looking to send him off a winner, but they hit an unexpected roadblock on day one in the form of Turkish side Space Soldiers.
With a stand-in due to a player’s visa issues and in only their 4th premier offline event, Space Soldiers weren’t expected to begin well in Dallas and with a weaker top bracket in Group B the Renegades had an opportunity to hit the ground running. However, the Turks were all class on Inferno - an 11-4 half with only Karlo “USTILO” Pivac looking warm had RNG scrambling to come back in the best-of-one.
It didn’t happen - SS ran away winners 16-7 sending RNG to the lower bracket to face compatriots Grayhound Gaming. As unfortunate as it was to have to meet the only other Oceanic team in the lower bracket, there was still an event to progress through.
Norwegian Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad was a huge contributor in the opening map of the elimination best-of-three, pulling RNG back from a 3-5 deficit to end GH’s 5-round streak and begin a run of their own. RNG would end up going 10 rounds in a row into the second half of Overpass, of all maps.
GH hit back on their CT side at 13-5 down and despite a number of brilliant opening frags from jkaem and Justin “jks” Savage the boys struggled to close out a round with an advantage, often times losing all men to a standard site hold from GH.
With only two bomb plants in eight rounds RNG’s economy was shot, and now with GH evening the scores at 13-13 the ‘Hounds threatened an upset. But thanks to a jkaem forcebuy clutch including use of three different weapons, then a jkaem quad kill in the following round, RNG broke the economy right back on match point, forcing GH into a forcebuy. Jks saw an end to it then and there - the final score 16-13, jkaem’s kill count a monstrous 38 (131ADR, 1.96 rating).
With GH’s pick out of the way RNG were cruising on Cache. Starting T side it was all yellow on the scoreboard as the Renegades, led by Noah “Nifty” Francis’ AWP, dismantled the ‘Hounds defence. A single bomb defused at 5-0 ended a chance at a flawless half early on but it didn’t matter - RNG’s mid aggression in the following round cut GH’s money to shreds.
12-4 ahead and their 4th pistol round secured the boys took their time on CT, ensuring that they had every opportunity to close out and eliminate Grayhound. The final score - RNG 16-10 - included a 27-frag effort from Nifty (94ADR, 1.43 rating) and no less than 15 frags from anyone else.
Sending GH packing RNG turned to Brazilian squad SK Gaming in an attempt to make a full run through the lower bracket. SK saw a chance to take on RNG’s best map Cache and took it, knowing full well they had a historic advantage over the boys on the map.
If RNG’s T side was a clinic against GH’s CT a day earlier, then SK’s CT defence was stalwart and, early on at least, unbreakable. Only jks seemed awake early on as RNG struggled to get going against fer and boltz, both combining in some rounds for 4 or 5 kills. It took 9 rounds before RNG got on the board on B site, but their relief at breaking the CT hold was short lived.
They’d plant the bomb only three more times from 1-9, and twice it was defused. SK’s map-wide aggression kicked in midway through and once again it was on RNG to adjust, with minimal success finishing at 4-11 down. A CT pistol in the bag and an anti-eco survived, RNG looked to the first gun round of the half to really kick off a comeback but like their Space Soldiers map, it didn’t come to fruition. Jks was the best of the bunch with 16 kills but it was nowhere near enough - SK trampled RNG 16-7.
If 11-4 is a strong CT scoreline then a 13-2 CT side is a demolition. Don’t get too excited though, it wasn’t RNG on the better side of 13-2.
Yet another slow start cost RNG on Mirage as after dropping the opening five rounds their site takes and T side as a whole became incredibly one-dimensional, repetitive and predictable. Again it seemed jks was the lone damage dealer for the maroon and yellow.
USTILO’s 4k pistol in the second half after a longer pause motivated the boys - SK needed 16 rounds, and they weren’t there yet. Mirage had proved to be a map that RNG knew how to comeback on in the past, and again today they’d need to pull out all the stops to halt SK’s progression. Jks’ 28-kill performance topped the entire server, let alone RNG (28-19, 101ADR, 1.50 rating) while Nifty was looking warmed up once more.
In the end, the only thing that could stop RNG was the dreaded CZ-75. Forcebuying at 14-7 after dropping the first five T rounds, SK bought a mix of CZ’s and Deagles and took A site with three picks. RNG saved their rifles, still with a decent economy and broke back the round later.
It happened again at 14-10 - another pistol forcebuy win for SK - but again RNG broke back, forcing yet another pistol buy for the Brazilians. It seemed to be their most effective weapon, and in the ruckus caused by utility usage fer slipped up connector and found AZR and Nifty with a single CZ clip, then USTILO with the dropped M4. SK’s CZ was too good, and they ended RNG’s comeback attempt 16-10 and thus, their EPL finals chances.
It wasn’t the ideal send-off for coach kassad, especially after such a good online season, but the boys will need to take it on the chin and prepare for Starladder i-League next week as the road to the London Major begins. Form and preparation is of the utmost importance heading into the prestigious event, and with the number of offline events coming up it’s up to the boys and the boys alone if they want to see themselves on stage at Wembley.
Four months to go.
Written by Nicholas “Taffy” Taifalos