Newly-crowned ESL Pro League Season 10 champions mousesports have rewritten their entire 2019 narrative, tournament MVP Robin ‘ropz’ Kool said, after their underdog run in Odense ended with a 3-0 victory over Fnatic.
With dominant teams like Astralis, Team Liquid, and Evil Geniuses all in the playoff bracket, there weren’t many tipping mousesports to emerge victorious, especially after falling to Liquid 2-1 in the upper bracket’s second round.
Sparked by a triumphant three-map series victory over Evil Geniuses, including a brutal 16-0 win over their North American opponents, mousesports battled through two more of the biggest names in the scene, Astralis, and Fnatic.
While the 2-1 victory over the Danish superstars, which was marred by crowd participation which nearly led Astralis to a win, was a tight upset, mousesports put a bow on their Odense success at Jyske Bank Arena with a rapid-fire 3-0.
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It was a year-defining victory in front of the Danish crowd, ropz told HLTV after being crowned MVP of the ESL tournament, and one that was built on the back of a series of reflections within the team after IEM Sydney right at the start of the year.
“We started off [the year] pretty well, we reached our first couple of playoff matches really early in Sydney, and that’s the level that we kept,” ropz explained.
“When the Major came around we really wanted to get top eight, and I think that’s where we kind of started to become shaky. We weren’t so good as a unit, and a team.”
Ropz admitted that a poor run at the Major, where mousesports missed the New Challengers stage and finished 9th-11th after back-to-back 0-2 losses to Vitality and Liquid, gave the European squad a very necessary shock to the system.
The Odense MVP revealed that while mousesports were “still happy” they had made the top ranks in Berlin at all because of their “crazy” qualification road, a look at the team was still in order. That came in the form of a post-major bootcamp.
There, the team reflected on their strengths in Sydney, their top-eight finish in Cologne, and the Berlin struggles. Karrigan laid out a plan for the team, ropz revealed: to make top-five before the end of the year, and prove they were a championship team.
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"We were working with a psychologist and we were trying to figure out our goals, and everyone came to the conclusion that our common goal was to become a top-five team and win a big event,” ropz explained.
“Our whole goal for the year was to become a top-five team and I think at this moment we might have achieved it. I hope we have, and for 2020 I think we're going to be challenging for top one, hopefully, because that's obviously the next step.”
According to ropz, whose last premier event win came with the team at ESL One New York in 2018, winning a “big event” has turned the whole calendar year into a success, as the team built on their lessons to finally claim silverware.
“For the whole year, this was our goal, and we did that now… even after the Major, this specific event, the Pro League finals, was what we set as the highest priority [as a chance to claim a trophy],” he said.
“We wanted to do the best here, and I’m so glad we did. I think it takes some pressure off our shoulders to perform well. Everyone has been expecting us to play well, and I think now that we have done it, we can take that pressure off.”
As well as the weight of pressure being lifted off their shoulders, mousesports walk away from Odense with a hefty prize of $250,000 for finished first place, and a confirmed place at Valve’s next major, IEM Katowice 2020.
Behind them, Fnatic collected $80,000 for second, while Astralis and Natus Vincere were each paid out $40,000 for their top-four placements.
Mousesports next take to the stage at cs_summit 5 from Thursday, December 12. The team will also contest EPICENTER 2019 in Moscow before Christmas.