MOUZ crowned ESL Pro League Season 18 Champions at last in-person Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament!

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

– 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.

Copyright: Igor Bezborodov, ESL FACEIT Group

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.

For the latest updates about the ESL’s Counter-Strike esports program, head to the official ESL Pro Tour website, and follow ESL CS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

*According to Esports Charts


Event photos can be found here and additional imagery is available in the EPL Season 18 press kit.


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