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A Million for Astralis: ESL Pro League Season 8 and Intel Grand Slam

On December 9, Astralis notched up another great achievement in their CS:GO career. They won the final stage of ESL Pro League Season 8 in Odense and thus became the first ever winners of Intel Grand Slam with the astonishing prize of $1,000,000.

The ESL Pro League tournament turned out to be very successful for the Danish team. They played the Finals in front of their home audience, which is an amazing experience for any Esports team. Astralis put in a performance befitting their home advantage, winning each and every match and losing only two rounds.

Intel Grand Slam is a unique reward, given to a team who win four ESL or DreamHack Masters tournaments in a season. Astralis is the first ever winner of that $1,000,000 prize. They triumphed in:

  • DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018;
  • ESL Pro League Season 7;
  • Intel Extreme Masters: Chicago 2018;
  • ESL Pro League Season 8.

The playing style of Astralis has become legendary. After Faceit Major in London, many use the term Astralis era in CS:GO.

But at the same time, many don’t like this team because of their seeming invincibility. Unlike Cloud9, which lost some motivation after winning at ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018, Astralis continue playing on the same amazing level (is this thanks to zonic, the coach?).

For instance, they have a great series on Nuke, and they are incredibly powerful on Inferno. The Astralis guys demonstrate uniquely perfect team play, where all the individuals work towards the same goal – that is something to learn from for all those people playing CS2.

Astralis Winner of ESL Pro League Finals Season 8

Let’s review this last tournament, that brought Astralis such a glorious victory!

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The Group Stage

Group Stage matches took place on December 4-6. The teams were divided into two groups, and they played in double-elimination format (GSL). Here’s a brief summary of this stage.

Group A

  • Astralis won all their matches and finished in first place, proceeding directly to the semifinals. Arguably, the most interesting game for them was with HellRaisers – the Ukrainian team put up quite a fight and almost made Astralis fans nervous (8:16 on Mirage, 16:13 on Dust II, and 16:4 on Inferno).
  • Team Liquid demonstrated Counter-Strike of the highest level, but at the end, they met Astralis. The match with the future champions was the only loss for Liquid (16:12 on Inferno and 16:8 on Nuke), so they proceeded to the quarterfinals.
  • Renegades lost to HellRaisers in the very first match of the tournament, so they fell into the lower bracket. This turned out to be quite a motivation for them, and the team won all the matches here and proceeded to the semifinals.
Group A Results EPL S8

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Group B

  • MIBR performed quite successfully and finished in first place, proceeding to the semifinals. The tightest match for them was with NRG Esports (16:7 on Overpass, 8:16 on Inferno, and 19:16 on Mirage);
  • Mousesports won all rounds against Ghost Gaming and Natus Vincere but experienced a bitter loss at the hands of MIBR (16:14 on Train and 16:6 on Inferno).
  • Na’Vi had a tough battle in the match with Order (16:14 on Mirage). Then, the team lost to Mouz and fell into the lower bracket. Here, Natus Vincere got two victories and proceeded to the quarterfinals.
Group B Results EPL S8

As you may see, pro players pick the same locations as we’ve chosen for our list of the best CS:GO maps – do you agree?

The Playoffs

After three days of the Playoff stage (December 7-9), Astralis and Team Liquid faced off as the Grand Finalists of ESL Pro League Season 8. It’s interesting to follow their success.

  • Astralis played the semifinal with mousesports (this team defeated Renegades in the semifinal). This match was fast and confident for the Danish team. Mouz had a chance on Mirage (16:12) but then folded on Inferno (16:5).
  • Team Liquid defeated Na’Vi in the quarterfinal very confidently (16:4 on Dust II and 16:6 on Inferno). In the semifinals, Liquid played with MIBR – and won with the same confidence (16:2 on Cache and 16:8 on Overpass).
Pley Off Results EPL S8

The Grand Final was super exciting. The victory over Team Liquid wasn’t an easy one for Astralis.

  • Train was a place of triumph for Team Liquid – they looked so powerful on this location, and Astralis could do nothing. Even dev1ce wasn’t really noticeable on the map. The match finished with the score 8:16.
  • Mirage was a turnaround for Astralis but with a significant fight – 16:11. There were some incredible moments from Xyp9x.
  • Inferno is traditionally terra firma for Astralis. They played incredibly on the T side, but then, after the side changing, Team Liquid were winning round after round. Only with some significant efforts, Astralis regained the upper hand and prevailed 16:11.
  • Dust II became a deciding location because Astralis hadn’t missed their chance. All the guys played incredibly, showing top CS:GO skills to win 16:10.
PrizePool ESL Pro League Finals Season 8

Of course, the world of CS:GO Esports is living and developing, so we can expect new fights for prestigious titles and fresh names in the CS:GO elite. For fans, it’s worth paying attention to the two following events will help to learn new tricks and boost skills and CS:GO Ranks. Maybe, someone will be able to beat Astralis there…

To play as a pro, practice a lot and check out our CS:GO guides – for example, our article with the Best Tips I’ve Received from Teammates.

Follow DMarket on Facebook and Twitter to be in tune with the world of CS:GO and other titles.

Eugene Bozhenko image
Eugene Bozhenko
Eugene Bozhenko is an enthusiastic gamer and professional gaming journalist with 14 years of writing experience. Since 2007 he has been a member of the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists. Eugene has experience writing about culture, sports, modern technology and politics but gaming remains his long-term favorite topic.
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