(Photo credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Natus Vincere and FaZe Clan posted sweeps to open Group C action at the ESL Pro League Season 18 event in Malta on Wednesday.
FaZe swept 9z Team while NAVI barreled past 5yclone. Apeks and Fnatic also posted victories to advance to the upper-bracket semifinals.
The $850,000 event features 32 teams broken up into four groups of eight. Group-stage winners advance to the quarterfinals; runners-up advance to the Round of 12 as the high seeds; third-place teams in each group advance to the Round of 16 as the high seeds; and fourth-place teams advance to the Round of 16 as the low seeds.
The group stage is triple-elimination with upper, middle and lower brackets. All matches are best-of-three until the grand final, which is best-of-five.
The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament runs through Oct. 1. The winner earns $200,000 and qualifies for the 2024 IEM Katowice event and the 2023 BLAST World Final.
On Wednesday, FaZe rolled past 9z 16-4 on Nuke and 16-3 on Inferno. Estonia's Robin "ropz" Kool led FaZe with 48 kills and a plus-26 kills-to-deaths differential.
Fnatic defeated Imperial Esports 2-1, opening with a 16-11 win on Overpass. Imperial responded with a 16-13 win on Anubis. Fnatic clinched the match in overtime, prevailing 22-18 on Nuke. William "mezii" Merriman of the United Kingdom led Fnatic with 83 kills and a plus-19 K-D differential.
Apeks defeated M80 in a sweep, winning 19-15 on Inferno and 16-3 on Mirage. Swede Tim "nawwk" Jonasson led Apeks with 52 kills and a plus-23 K-D differential.
Natus Vincere knocked off 5yclone, 16-11 on Inferno and 16-12 on Mirage. Ukraine's Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev led NAVI with 49 kills, recording a plus-12 K-D differential.
Group C action continues with four matches on Thursday:
--FaZe Clan vs. Fnatic (upper-bracket semis)
--Apeks vs. Natus Vincere (upper-bracket semis)
--9z Team vs. Imperial Esports (mid-bracket Round 1)
--M80 vs. 5yclone (mid-bracket Round 1)
ESL Pro League Season 18 prize pool:
1. $200,000, 3,000 BLAST Premier points -- TBD
2. $90,000, 2,000 BLAST points -- TBD
3-4. $50,000, 1,200 points - TBD
5-8. $35,000, 500 points -- TBD
9-12. $25,000 -- TBD
13-16. $20,000 -- TBD
17-20. $15,000 -- Gamer Legion, MIBR, TBD
21-28. $8,000 -- Ninjas in Pyjamas, Grayhound Gaming, Heroic, Evil Geniuses, TBD
29-32. $4,000 -- ORKS, Rooster, TBD
--Field Level Media