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Published: February 24, 2023

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • The Russians take the match 2-0 following a grueling bout
  • IHC displayed resolve and skill despite eventually losing to the Russian team
  • Outsiders’ next opponent is Fnatic in Group A’s upper bracket

The opening match of the ESL Pro League saw underdogs IHC put up a stubborn fight against fan favorites Rio Major winners Outsiders.

Outsiders Beat IHC 

Being the champions of the 2022 IEM Rio Major, Outsiders have a reputation to uphold. This has proven to be more difficult than the team probably expected as Outsiders had a quarter-final finish at IEM Katowice, failing to live up to the expectations created after the Brazilian tournament. 

Now, the Russian team has another chance to prove itself at the ESL Pro League. Outsiders already started the League’s 17th season with a decisive 2-0 victory over the Mongolian team IHC. The Mongolians came to the Malta tournament as underdogs with upset potential, however, they have not started their run well.

The game started on Inferno, a classic map that both teams prefer. With the playing field being level, viewers expected a close game and this is what they got. Outsiders took the first pistol round on the defense and only barely survived against a full pistol save to follow. Both teams proceeded to trade rounds until the end of the first half came, with the scoreboard reading 9-6 in favor of Outsiders.

The second half of Inferno played in much the same way as the previous one with the opposing teams going back and forth. Petr “?fame?” Bolyshev and Alexey “?Qikert?” Golubev turned around a 2vs4 in the second pistol round and scored double digits by the end of the hotly contested first half. Newcomer Aleksandr “?KaiR0N-?” Anashkin seemed to be Outsoders’ weak link as he got just a 0.37 rating and three kills on the attack. Following a tough slog, the Russian team managed to snatch a 16-13 victory on Inferno.

IHC was proving to be more than just a nuisance for the Russian team and that only continued on Overpass. The Mongolians got the first round but the scoreboard was equalized to 2-2. It was at this moment that Outsiders a critical mistake on B site. This gave a near full eco gave Sodbayar “?Techno?” Munkhbold the chance to get a knife killed followed by a crucial 1vs3 clutch. Outsiders took a massive psychological hit because of this but managed to stay on par with their Mongolian adversaries, even finishing the first half with a slight 9-3 advantage. 

It was at this point that Outsiders had enough of IHC and woke up. The Russians failed the pistol round but that was the only one IHC would win until the rest of the game, as Outsiders brute forced the map, winning it 16-7 and claiming a 2-0 victory over the Mongolian team.

Outsiders’ next opponents are Fnatic in the Group A upper bracket. Meanwhile, IHC will have to face MIBR for a chance to avoid the triple-elimination last-chance bracket.

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