The ESL Pro League Season 9 is starting on the 18th of June 2019. The culmination of several months of online matches will see most of the Top CS: GO teams in action. It is after many months that we will be witness to top quality Counter-strike with all the top teams in attendance.

The period after the IEM Katowice 2019 Major saw multiple Blast Pro Tournaments. Due to their existing contract with the participating teams, Blast Pro Series was able to feature some of the best team in action. However, the format for their tournaments was extremely poor, with little scope to merit and fair-play.

ESL Pro League Season 9 is one of the first tournaments post the Major where Counter-Strike will be at its prime. Top teams in contention in a fair format is exactly what Counter-Strike needs from a tournament and fan perspective.

Let’s take a look at some of the key storylines at ESL Pro League Season 9. The event takes place from 18th till the 23rd of June 2019. It will take place at the Sud de France Arena in Montpellier, France. With a prize pool of $600,000, this event is one of the biggest prize pools in Counter-Strike.

The Astralis Struggle

For the longest time, Astralis has been the best team in the world. The Danish team’s preparation and their approach to the game ensured that they are miles ahead of the competition. For much of 2018, Astralis was the best team in the world without much in terms of competition.

However, in 2019, Astralis’ participation ( or lack thereof ) in top tier events has been disconcerting. The team’s absence from these tournaments not only dissociates them from the mainstream meta, but it also provided other teams with an opportunity to catch up. In the few tournaments that they did attend, Astralis was unable to replicate the dominant version of themselves. Their inability to win certain events ( despite the format being extremely complicated ) further moved them down the ranks.

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Currently, according to the HLTV rankings, Team Liquid has overtaken Astralis to become the best team in the world. Liquid and Astralis have always competed against each other near the business end of tournaments. Astralis would always come out on top, but this year, Team Liquid is already moving up the ranks.

With the Major just a few months away, every tournament between now and then assumes significance. ESL Pro League Season 9 is especially important because it is one of the few events featuring all the big Tier one team in attendance.

Faze Clan and Mouz – the Contenders

Two teams that have been a strong presence in Counter-Strike will have their task cut out for them at ESL Pro League. Faze Clan and Mouz have some really talented individuals, however, the teams’ performance has not been a good representation of their skill level.

Faze Clan recently brought in NEO to replace AdreN on the team. NEO’s presence adds a lot of ‘oomph’ to the team. His successful past and his ability to manoeuvre highly skilled individuals will be especially useful during his time on Faze Clan. Of course, Faze still requires improved performance from their players, especially Olofmeister and Guardian. You can read why NEO is a very good fit for Faze Clan here.

Mousesports and Karrigan Hope for a Revival in Form

Mousesports, on the other hand, is a team that saw a change in its roster in March 2019. They brought in Karrigan to lead the team, and his experience in helping younger players shine through is unmatched in Counter-Strike. He has helped his teams on multiple occasions put up strong individual performances as well as function like a team. Karrigan’s style of leadership puts the players in very strong positions based on their playstyle. It boosts their confidence and also provides them with an advantage going into any aim match-up.

However, when it comes to taking a team to the next level after helping them be an established presence, Karrigan falls short. For Mousesports, however, we will focus on how Karrigan has helped the new roster find its path and how ESL Pro League will be one of their first appearances as a unit.

The team has had problems in securing a spot at Premier tournaments. Their recent appearances at multiple qualifiers saw the team facing elimination early in the qualifiers. They were unable to qualify for IEM Sydney 2019 and ECS Season 7 LAN finals as well. However, it is their presence at ESL Pro League Season 9 LAN finals that will definitely create a flutter.

Mousesports is by no means a weak team and the sheer presence of the talent on the roster can create a formidable competition. They still have to find their groove and especially work on their communication. A look at their gameplay suggests that the teammates are not on the same page and that is a byproduct of communication issues.

One Last Hurrah – Daps with NRG

NRG is one of the most promising CS: GO teams in the North American scene. The team was formed under the guidance of Daps who led them from strength to strength. He was able to help NRG rise to near the top of the North American scene. However as the team looked forth to further improving their performance and results, they felt that it would be better to play with Stanislaw instead of Daps on the roster. It was purely a tactical roster change in order to further cement their position as a strong Counter-Strike team.

However, due to Stanislaw’s unavailability for ESL Pro League LAN Finals, Daps will be playing with the team for one more time. Since he is still a free agent, there will be an emphasis on studying his performance both as an In-Game Leader as well as an individual. Daps has the necessary experience with the current players to ensure they can put up a strong performance. NRG has multiple strong players on their roster. The likes of Brehze, Tarik and NahtE have all risen to the occasion in the past. The sheer level of talent on this roster provides them with a huge advantage going into these LAN events. They present a mixture of talent and experience led by good leadership.

NRG’s performance at this event will be scrutinised under two different lenses. We already know that Daps is leaving the roster, so his performance as a leader and player will receive special attention. At the same time, Stanislaw will be looking at their games to study the team’s playstyle and curate his leadership to their playstyle.

NRG is not expected to go far in the tournament, but a playoff presence would be a win for the roster.

Final Thoughts

ESL Pro League Occitaine 2019 Image
The Playoffs will take place at the Sud De France Arena from June 21st to 23rd


The hype around ESL Pro League Season 9 is genuine and strong. The tournament’s format means that it will be stepping stone for the rankings in the next few months. The Blast Pro series always came with a few conditions due to their format. It was always a hit or miss kind of situation with the Blast Pro series due to their Best of One format in the Group stages.

ESL Pro League Season 9 LAN Finals has a double elimination Best of Three Group stage. The opening matches are Best of One matches, but all subsequent matches are Best of Three. It is a tried and tested format and works quite well for all teams considered. Since there are six teams moving on to the Playoffs, everyone has a fair chance of proceeding to the Grand finals and a potential tournament victory.

You can catch all the action live on Twitch here.

The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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