The playoffs of ESL Pro League season 13 started with a bang today with some intense opening matchups on the first day.
FURIA took on FunPlus Phoenix to kick off the playoffs. FPX narrowly took the first map, their pick of Nuke 16-14. FURIA, however, dominated on their own pick of Vertigo to send the series to Inferno. On the popular choice for decisive maps, FPX led 10-9 before an impressive string of CT rounds for FURIA pushed the Brazilian side into the next round with a 16-11 win.
Kaike "KSCERATO" Cerato and Vinicius "VINI" Figueiredo were the statistical standouts across the series. VINI had at least 22 kills on each map (73 across all three) and had a series player rating of 1.42, which was much higher than anyone else on the server. His performance helped FURIA get into the next round to play the winner of Team Liquid vs. G2.
While FURIA and FPX each handled business on their own map pick en route to Inferno, Liquid and G2 took different paths to end up at the same destination. Despite a great performance from Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, all of Liquid outshined G2 on Dust 2, stealing G2's map pick by winning eight T-side rounds over the map's final nine.
But NiKo was able to rely on family to keep G2 in the series. On Liquid's pick of Vertigo, Nemanja 'huNter-' Kovač, NiKo's cousin, had an unreal performance against the NA titans. He produced 35 kills, only 17 deaths, and a myriad of clutches to help G2 steal the second map 16-12.
For the second straight series, the final map went to Inferno. On the site of his greatest triumph (against NiKo, if you remember), Jake "Stewie2K" Yip had an excellent game, as did the reaper of the apartments, Michael "Grim" Wince. In the 30th round, with G2 leading 15-14, clutch 2Ks from both huNter- and the reinstated Audric "JaCkz" Jug gave G2 the narrow 16-14 victory. It was a 2-1 series win for G2 and the second reverse sweep of the day.
FURIA and G2 Esports will meet in the next round of the playoffs on Sunday, April 4, at 8:30am CT. FPX and Liquid's ESL Pro League runs have come to an end. The playoff action for the Pro League continues on Saturday, April 3 with Virtus Pro taking on ENCE, followed by Natus Vincere facing Complexity.