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Published: September 14, 2023

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • The mixed European roster beat the Brazilians 2-1 in Malta
  • Fnatic will now face FaZe in an attempt to seize a playoff berth
  • Meanwhile, Imperial will have to stave off the Last Chance Stage

Fnatic cast Imperial top the lower bracket at Malta after a grueling 3-map encounter that saw many unexpected turns and extended to a double overtime.

Fnatic Defeat Imperial

We are slowly coming closer to the final stages of the ESL Pro League Season 18 in Malta, and teams are clamoring to get to the upper brackets of the event. One team that made it to the upper bracket semi-final of Group C is fnatic, after narrowly defeating Imperial in a hair-raising close match, which extended to the full three maps, including a hard-fought overtime on the very last one.

The encounter has set fnatic on a crash course against FaZe, whom they will face in an attempt to seize a playoff spot. Meanwhile, their Brazilian opponents Imperial have been cast down to the lower bracket, where they will have to face their fellow regional team 9z in hopes of avoiding the Last Chance Stage.

Fnatic could not have won if it was not for the actions of William “⁠mezii⁠” Merriman and Aurélien “⁠afro⁠” Drapier. The former remained as the ever-present force for fnatic across all three maps, while the latter’s skills on the AWP were crucial in the decider third map. The British and French duo, however, did not have it very easy as on the opposite side, Imperial’s Henrique “⁠HEN1⁠” Teles and João “⁠felps⁠” Vasconcellos made fnatic’s road to victory anything but easy.

How Did the Match Go?

The series itself started on Overpass, Imperial’s pick, where it looked like fnatic would dominate the entire match, having amassed a whopping 11-round lead thanks in large part to mezii’s performance. But just as all hope seemed lost for Imperial, the Brazilians finally woke up and actually managed to amass 11 rounds of their own, taking their opponents by surprise. Unfortunately for the former team, fnatic was just a few rounds away from victory and so managed to quickly retake control of the situation and close out Overpass with a 16-11 score.

However, Imperial now felt empowered by their comeback on the previous map, even though they did not win it, therefore, the Brazilians started strongly on Anubis, the second map. They quickly pulled ahead with a 9-2 lead on the T-side. At this point, fnatic did what Imperial did on the first map and woke up, quickly stringing many rounds to get the score to a 12-9 advantage for them. Continuing to mimic their opponents, however, fnatic seemed to run out of steam, which allowed Imperial to win seven of the next eight rounds to force a trip to a Nuke decider.

It once again started with fnatic taking the early lead thanks to the duo of afro and mezii’s plays enabling the team to take a 9-3 lead on the defense. During the second half of the map, fnatic extended that lead to a 13-7, but once again when it seemed everything was decided, Imperial woke up and started scoring. This resulted in a bitter struggle, leading to a double overtime before fnatic finally closed things out, 22-18. Fnatic will now proceed to the playoffs, a spot for which teams like Monte have already secured after defeating MIBR, another Brazilian team.  

Meanwhile, Imperial will have to stave off the Last Chance Stage by defeating 9z in the lower bracket.

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