After an intense Grand Final, MOUZ defeated Natus Vincere and were crowned ESL Pro League Season 18 Champions, taking home $200,000 in prize money
|PRESS RELEASE SUMMARY|
– MOUZ are the Champions of ESL Pro League Season 18 and win $200,000 prize after taking down Natus Vincere (NAVI) 3-0.
– As Champions they also qualify for IEM Katowice 2024 with a $1,000,000 prize pool and enter the race for the Intel® Grand Slam V.
– This season, the ESL Pro League saw a total of over 27 million hours watched* and a peak viewership of more than 408,000*.
– The 18th Season of the longest-running Counter-Strike league marks ESL’s last in-person competition on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) as its competitive ecosystem transitions to Counter-Strike 2.
Cologne/New York/St. Julian’s, October 1, 2023 – On Sunday, MOUZ (3-0) claimed the title of ESL Pro League (EPL) Season 18 Champions and took home the $200,000 first prize. In a Grand Final full of surprises, MOUZ took down Natus Vincere (NAVI) in a close but swift series.
Kicking off on August 30th in St. Julian’s, Malta, for the second time as well as returning to the InterContinental Hotel, the Group Stage saw a total of 32 teams over six continents compete in four groups of eight in a high-stakes triple-elimination bracket. Each team had three chances to prove that they had what it takes to be the best and proceed to the Playoffs.
Surprises in the Playoffs
In the Playoffs on September 26 – October 1, the top 16 teams battled it out to earn their way into the Grand Final. After some fierce competition in the first few days, eight teams were sent home. This included the defending ESL Pro League Champions FaZe Clan after their loss to MOUZ, as well as the IEM Rio 2023 and Paris Major 2023 winners Team Vitality who lost to the ESL Challenger League Season 44 winner, Monte.
On the other side of the spectrum, MOUZ fought through tough competition to make it to the Finals, having to defeat the likes of FURIA, FaZe Clan, and G2 Esports. Their impressive run can be attributed to the team’s composure in high-pressure situations against more experienced rosters. In the second semifinals, MOUZ showed incredible resilience against ENCE. With Kamil “siuhy” Szkaradek leading the team when they needed it most with performances from Ádám “torzsi” Torzsás and Jimi “Jimpphat” Salo – the youngest player in the tournament – resulted in a winning formula, to advance into the Finals.
The ESL Pro League Season 18 Grand Final
The exciting Grand Final saw MOUZ and NAVI go head-to-head, with neither team making it to a Final since their line-up changed earlier this summer. Notably, NAVI and Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s last Final appearance occurred in Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Cologne 2022.
MOUZ started the Finals with a strong start on Inferno, winning an intense two vs. five clutch in the fourth round. NAVI were able to find their rhythm with Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen’s impressive 4k however, this wasn’t enough as MOUZ kept finding the momentum to take the first map.
Map 2 took the teams to Overpass as chosen by NAVI, however, MOUZ once again took an early lead. In the ninth round, NAVI looked to be in good form but it was siuhy who stopped them in their tracks by securing the round with a 4k whilst on an eco buy. MOUZ looked to comfortably take the map until s1mple got his hands on the AWP. NAVI was brought back to life as they took round after round. In the end, it wasn’t enough as MOUZ’ lead was too far and they were able to close out the map 16-9.
The third map took the teams to Mirage which has historically been a favourite map for both teams. While none has ever come back from 0-2 in a best-of-five in-person tournament, NAVI quickly took control of the map and the lead in the early stages. This all came to a halt when torzsi was able to gain the AWP as MOUZ were able to claw it back to 9-6. The rest of the map went back and forth with NAVI gaining some momentum only to be ruined by MOUZ’s unusual plays. In the closest maps of the series, NAVI forced the game into overtime. Ultimately, Dorian “xertioN” Berman ended NAVI’s hopes and dreams with a careful flank behind the enemy team, which destroyed their momentum.
MOUZ crowned as Champions
With this recent victory, MOUZ not only takes home the lion’s share of the $850,000 total prize pool, but they also qualify for the first next ESL Pro Tour Championship event, IEM Katowice 2024 with the opportunity to earn a share of the $1,000,000 prize pool. The last time MOUZ won EPL was back in Season 10 when frozen was in his rookie season. Now, as the veteran of the team, he led MOUZ to glory once again. For all of his incredible plays time and time again under pressure, Jimi “Jimpphat” Salo was awarded the DHL MVP for the EPL Season 18 Finals at only 17 years old and in his first-ever Grand Finals appearance.
After weeks of hard-fought competition, all of MOUZ’ determination has paid off with them winning EPL Season 18. They have proven themselves to be a dominant force in Counter-Strike, overcoming many great challenges that showcased their skill and determination. By securing the title, MOUZ are now the fourth team in contention for the Intel® Grand Slam V alongside ENCE, G2 Esports, and Team Vitality. Delivered by Intel® and ESL FACEIT Group, the Intel® Grand Slam gives teams the chance to make their mark on Counter-Strike history and features a $1,000,000 cash prize to those who win four out of ten consecutive top-level competitions hosted by ESL.
DHL MVP Jimi “Jimpphat” Salo said after their victory: “I’m just so happy, I don’t have the words, it’s an amazing feeling to win! It has to be something with the team environment because it’s just so calm and so chill to play with the team, because everybody is just so nice to each other that there’s no pressure in any way.”
EPL Season 18 saw over 27 million hours watched* and a peak viewership of more than 408,000*.
The ESL Pro Tour continues on Counter-Strike 2
With Counter-Strike 2 officially launched, MOUZ claimed their EPL Season 18 title at ESL’s final in-person Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, with future and the majority of the already ongoing competitions transitioning to the new game iteration with immediate effect.
Next up in the ESL Pro Tour for Counter-Strike are the currently ongoing ESL Challenger League Season 46 which will conclude on December 12th, and IEM Sydney 2023 on October 16th – 22nd which will see Intel® Extreme Masters make a grand return to Australia.
*According to Esports Charts
About ESL FACEIT Group
ESL FACEIT Group (EFG) is the leading esports and video game entertainment company dedicated to creating worlds beyond gameplay where players and fans become a community. EFG is built on a legacy of world-renowned brands including ESL, FACEIT, DreamHack and DreamHack Sports Games, providing innovative ecosystems for global communities of players, fans and creators around the games they love. Working alongside leading partners, brands and global IPs, EFG operates an unmatched portfolio of live events, digital platforms and developer tools that reach and engage millions of gamers worldwide. For more information visit www.eslfaceitgroup.com.
ESL creates a world where everybody can be somebody. For more than two decades, we have been shaping the industry and leading esports and gaming innovation globally across the most popular video games, creating a comprehensive ecosystem with opportunities for players to go from zero to hero and for fans to witness the best stories esports has to offer. The ESL portfolio consists of high-profile products such as the ESL Pro Tour, Intel® Extreme Masters, the Snapdragon Pro Series, and many more, ranging from grassroots to global elite competitions. ESL is part of ESL FACEIT Group, the leading competitive games and esports company.
About ESL Pro League
The ESL Pro League is the world’s longest-running professional league for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, featuring the best teams from Europe, North America, South America and the Asia-Pacific region. Broadcast across various platforms and staged over the years in landmark venues across the globe, the event, split into two seasons a year, provides a unique challenge in the CS:GO calendar and is highly valued by teams, players and fans alike. Originally established in 2015, by 2019 it offered a total prize pool of $1,5 million US dollars. Following the signing of the Louvre Agreement in 2020, ESL Pro League brings 15 of the biggest brands in esports to compete alongside 17 teams trying their best to capitalise on their recent successes (https://pro.eslgaming.com/csgo/proleague/).