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Published: September 27, 2023

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • The Sought American team faced VP after earning a spot for Group C of the EPL
  • It was a very close match, proving to be quite the spectacle for viewers
  • 9z have rebounded hard from their initial two losses in this ESL Pro League Season 18

9z continues to surprise everyone with their underdog story, as they recently scored an important victory against VP and are headed for the second-round playoffs of ESL Pro League Season 18.

9z Defeat

ESL Pro League Season 18 has already seen some amazing performances by many of the competing teams, but sometimes fans get to see some very unexpected results. Such is the case with the South American organization 9z, who yesterday, much to many peoples’ surprise, sent one of the event’s favorites,, packing home after an intense match that stretched to all three maps.

“This means a lot. We played against them a lot of times and couldn’t win, we continued to put hard work into ourselves, and now it’s all worth it,” said 9z’s captain Maximiliano “⁠max⁠” Gonzalez in an interview after the match. The South American team was set on a collision course with the Russian squad after the former secured the final EPL Group C berth after defeating 5yclone last week.

Max provided impact frags throughout the series and Santino “⁠try⁠” Rigal also produced a couple of highlight plays with the AWP to help guide the team forward. Despite that, were not going to give up easily and managed to respond with their own counteroffensive on Inferno, although they then narrowly lost the final map, leading to them being eliminated.

Here’s How the Match Went

But before the drama played out on these two maps, the teams started out on Mirage, 9z’s choice, who managed to make a 5-1 lead. However, this was stopped by VP’s Dzhami “⁠Jame⁠” Ali and Petr “⁠fame⁠” Bolyshev who repeatedly found multi-kills, fending off site takes or successfully pushing through retakes, earning a 9-6 lead for their team by the end of the first half.

When the sides switched, both teams traded rounds, but 9z eventually retook the lead, climbing to 13 rounds. At this point, VP took a much-needed timeout and returned with a more aggressive playstyle. Although they scored a lot of rounds, it was too little too late, resulting in 9z taking Mirage 16-14.

Inferno came next, and the Russian players were much more comfortable on their own map pick. VP quickly gained the initiative, outplaying 9z on many occasions, and eventually took the first half with a 9-6 lead. This trend continued when the sides changed, with VP widening the gap in the score, despite the few successful rounds that 9z managed. However, this was not enough as VP eventually brought the map to a close with a comfortable 16-10 lead.

With everything on the liner, the teams entered the last map, Overpass, with 9z running out to a 4-0 lead on their defense, only for to start steadily reeling them in. The Russians poked at 9z’s defenses and were in control, but the latter got some isolated wins here and there, forcing a 7-8 score at the end of the first half.

When the sides witched, 9z took the pistol round, in large part thanks to max. When the scoreboard read 12-8, began to get on top of their defense, and they won a half-buy of their own to keep things intense. However, the South Americans kept their composure and exploited the B bombsite again and again, which eventually led to a close but definite 16-14 victory on the map.

9z’s victory comes as somewhat of a surprise considering is one of the best teams in the world. It is yet another page in the underdog storyline the South Americans seem to have been showing us during the past few weeks. Their early start in the ESL Season 18 was not so great, as 9z was even sent to the Last Chance bracket by Imperial at one point, only to get out of there and win four matches in a row, with the one against VP being just the latest one.

The South American team now moves to the second round of the playoffs where they will meet Moviestar Riders, and if they win, 9z will face ENCE in the quarter-finals.

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