ESL Pro League Season 16 opens with three sweeps

Natus Vincere, Fnatic and Team Vitality swept their opening Group A matches on Wednesday as ESL Pro League Season 16 got underway in Malta.

The $835,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event features 24 teams vying for a $175,000 first prize and berth into the BLAST Premier World Final. Only the Season 16 champion will clinch a spot in the $1 million Final set for Dec. 14-18 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Pro League teams are divided into four groups for the initial round-robin phase. The four group champions will advance to the playoff quarterfinals, while the teams that come in second and third in each group will move on to the playoffs’ Round of 12.

All matches in the group stage and the playoffs are best-of-three until the best-of-five final on Oct. 2.

Natus Vincere kicked off the event with a 2-0 win over Team Spirit, prevailing 16-11 on Nuke and 16-9 on Dust II.

Russia’s Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy led Natus Vincere with a plus-10 kill-death-assist ratio while sharing team-high kill honors with Ukraine’s Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, both with 37. Ukraine’s Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov finished with 44 kills and a plus-14 K-D-A ratio for Spirit.

Fnatic had no trouble with Ninjas in Pyjamas, rolling to 16-4 victories on Ancient and Overpass. Denmark’s Fredrik “roeJ” Jorgensen amassed 42 kills and a plus-24 K-D-A ratio for Fnatic. Ludvig ‘Brollan’ Brolin and Fredrik ‘REZ’ Sterner, both of Sweden, both wound up with 26 kills and a minus-9 K-D-A ratio for Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Vitality handled Endpoint 16-12 on Vertigo, 16-5 on Inferno behind 50 kills and a plus-22 K-D-A ratio from France’s Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut. The Netherlands’ Joey “CRUC1AL” Steusel posted 37 kills and a plus-1 K-D-A ratio for Endpoint.

Group A action continues Thursday with three matches:
–Team Spirit vs. Endpoint
–Natus Vincere vs. Fnatic
–Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. Team Vitality

Group A concludes on Sunday. Group B will be contested from Sept. 7-11, Group C from Sept. 14-18 and Group D from Sept. 21-25.

ESL Pro League Season 16 group standings, with win-loss record, score differential and points
Group A
1. Fnatic, 1-0, +24, 3 points
2. Team Vitality, 1-0, +15, 3 points
3. Natus Vincere, 1-0, +12, 3 points
4. Team Spirit, 0-1, -12, 0 points
5. Endpoint, 0-1, -15, 0 points
6. Ninjas in Pyjamas, 0-1, -24, 0 points

Group B
FaZe Clan
G2 Esports
FTW Esports

Group C

Group D
Movistar Riders
Team Liquid
FURIA Esports
Evil Geniuses
Eternal Fire

–Field Level Media

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