To close out the final day of the last group stage of ESL Pro League season 13, Astralis, Virtus Pro, and Team Liquid all punched their tickets to the playoffs. Well, actually, they punched their tickets before the final day of matches.
After day four, all three of those CS:GO teams sat at 3-1, while the rest of the group—Fnatic, Evil Geniuses, and Endpoint—were all at 1-3. Mathematically, it was impossible for the top teams to not make the playoffs.
But that didn't make the final series of matches any less important since all three of the top teams had a chance to claim the coveted No. 1 seed. With wins already against VP and Liquid, the Danish dynasty in Astralis control their destiny. A win against Fnatic would give them the No. 1 seed. If they lost to Fnatic, though, the winner of VP vs. Liquid would get the top spot.
With a chance for the top seed on the line, VP and Liquid put on an absolute show. Map one on Dust II was a back-and-forth affair for its entire duration, nearly going to 30 rounds. Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski was the difference-maker, notching 30 kills to allow Liquid to steal VP's map pick, 16-13.
Vertigo's first half was a tale of two stars. EliGE had 18 kills in the first half but was outshined by VP's Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis, who had 21 kills at halftime. But the rest of Liquid stepped up in the second half with big play after big play to come back and take Vertigo 16-13.
Unfortunately for both teams, their superb battle was for naught since Astralis made decisive work of Fnatic in two maps. Nicolai "device" Reedtz had one of the greatest individual maps ever with a 40 kill/16 death performance in a 16-10 win on Train. Astralis then handed Fnatic another loss on Dust II, securing their top spot in the group.
After Astralis lost their opening group match to EG, both teams defied the direction of their momentum. Astralis went on to beat Liquid, VP, and Endpoint, while EG lost three straight to VP, Fnatic, and Liquid.
Astralis have now won four-straight matches and finish first in Group D. They'll join the other first-place teams in Heroic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Gambit in the play-in stage. The two play-in winners will get a bye to the semifinals, while the two losers will still get a bye to the quarterfinals.
The playoffs resume with the round of 12 on Friday, April 2.