If there was any doubt that Evil Geniuses had made its return to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitive scene, it's time to shoot those doubts into the sun. In its first tournament since acquiring the former roster of NRG Esports, EG went the distance, sweeping Astralis out of the Grand Finals and winning its first championship after a seven year abscence from competitive CS:GO.
The Finals was expected to be closer than the best-of-3 Evil Geniuses and Astralis played atop Group B just a few days prior, which saw EG win 2-0 by the scores of 16-14 and 16-12 to exit Group B as the 1st seed. However, the Grand Finals could not have started out any more opposite of the expectations.
Evil Geniuses didn't just possess a lead on Inferno, it simply took ownership of the entire map. Astralis found itself down 13-2 at the half, and it didn't take long before EG shut the door on the Danes 16-3. On Dust2, Astralis would bounce back, putting up a much better fight and ending the first half narrowly ahead of EG 8-7. Playing the second half on T side, Astralis came hot out of the gate for the second half, and it looked as if the series would be tied after the conclusion of Dust2.
Evil Geniuses had other plans, storming back in the second half and tying the series at 12 on a 5-1 run across six rounds. EG took the momentum from the comeback and ran with it, not looking back once and defeating Astralis on Dust2 16-12. Evil Geniuses would head to Train on match point.
Train was the bloodiest affair of the series' first three maps, with more rounds ending in fierce, abrupt firefights along the tracks. However, more often than not, the last man standing was wearing blue, not red, and Evil Geniuses gained a lead on Astralis that it was able to hold until tournament point at 15-11. Everything looked set for EG to sweep the Grand Finals, but Astralis isn't known as the greatest CS:GO team of all time for nothing.
Astralis won four straight rounds to force Overtime, hanging on to its tournament hopes by the skin of its teeth. Tied at 15-15, EG and Astralis barred down on another, both sides taking as many as four AWPs into Overtime. Astralis jumped ahead 17-15, eventually finding game point at 18-16, but Evil Geniuses clutched out the last two rounds to force a 2nd OT. In dramatic fashion, the second Overtime went the distance until at last, Astralis won 22-20 in the 42nd round.
The series went to Nuke for map 4, and the battle started out similarly to the maps previous. Evil Geniuses was able to amass individual advantages into an earlylead, but Astralis managed to settle in and play the remainder of the first half, coming within striking distance of Evil Geniuses down 7-8.
No one outside of the team itself can be sure what the game plan was for Evil Geniuses on the second half of Nuke, but whatever adjustments were made paid off in spades. EG would only drop one more round on Nuke, taking the map 16-8 and the Grand Finals 3-1. Barclays Center erupted as Evil Geniuses proved that North American CS:GO was here to stay, and extended beyond the single team of Team Liquid.
In a post-match interview with O.J. Borg, Tarik "tarik" Celik took a moment to reflect upon what the win meant to him and his teammates: "What a way to start off our careers as part of EG...Oh my God!" The Brooklyn crowd erupted behind the authenticity and emotion of the hometown hero, to which tarik responded by deeming his fellow New Yorkers, "the best crowd in Counter-Strike."
At the conclusion of ESL One New York 2019, two things are certain. Evil Geniuses recent acquisition of the NRG Esports CS:GO roster could not look any smarter than it does right now, and EG's dethroning of Astralis has blown the conversation of best CS:GO team in the world wide open.