G2 rallies to strong start at ECS

Andreas "Xyp9x" HĂžjsleth and Astralis came in as favorites to lift the ESL Pro League Season 8 trophy. Helena Kristiansson/ESL

The first week of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Esports Championship Series Season 3 group stage kicked off Friday with 20 teams from North America and Europe battling it out in their respective regions to search for a coveted playoff spot.

Here's how Week 1 played out in Europe.

G2 Esports kicked off Friday's action with a Best of 2 battle against GODSENT, taking both games in the series to vault up the European standings. G2 immediately jumped out to a large lead in Game 1, ending the first half up 12-3 thanks in large part to Kenny "kennyS" Schrub, who dominated on the sniper-rifle with a 1.38 rating. However, GODSENT returned the favor in the second half, forcing a 14-14 tie before the Frenchmen closed Inferno with a 16-14 win. The series shifted to Overpass, where G2 dominated early to the tune of an 8-0 lead before closing the first half 11-4. Unfortunately for GODSENT, the French five closed the series with a five-round streak to blow the Swedes out of the water 16-4. Nathan "NBK" Schmitt led the way with a 26/11 KD (kills/deaths) and 145.4 ADR (average damage per round) for G2's 2-0 series opener.

Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas followed the action with a close series tie that could have ended in favor of either team. NiP started the series on Train with a 3-0 lead, but Astralis immediately responded with four straight round wins of its own. Both teams continued to trade rounds, with Astralis eventually taking the first half lead 8-7. The Swedes' explosive offense won seven consecutive rounds before Astralis ended the streak and NiP returned to force a map point scenario. Astralis answered back with a five-round win streak of its own before NiP closed out Train 16-14. Astralis looked to get back at NiP in Game 2 on Cache, and it did just that, finishing the first half up 10-5. Both teams traded rounds in the second half, with NiP eventually regaining control. Down 14-12, Astralis rallied back, winning four straight rounds thanks in part to the heroics of Andreas "Xyp9x" Hojsleth to even the series with a 16-14 win.

Fnatic and EnVyUs traded series wins on Saturday as EnVyUs came back to settle for a split following a horrific Game 1 loss. Fnatic started the series on the offensive side of Inferno, winning 13 straight rounds until EnVyUs won its first round. That deficit proved to be insurmountable as Fnatic would eventually cruise to a Game 1 16-3 victory. Fnatic got off to a quick 2-0 start to Train in Game 2, but EnVyUs evened the score 2-2 after capitalizing on Fnatic's anti-eco mishap. EnVyUs won the following round, but Fnatic answered back with a three-round streak to take the lead. Both teams traded rounds to end the first half, but Fnatic came out on top up 9-6 at the half. The French won the second pistol round, but Fnatic won the following anti-ecos and the gun round for a 12-7 lead. However, EnVyUs thrashed Fnatic's offense in the subsequent seven rounds to take a 14-12 lead before Fnatic battled back to tie the game 14-14. EnVyUs shut down the Swedish offense to close out Train 16-14, evening the series 1-1.

Last week's new addition, Robin "ropz" Kool, continued to serve mousesports well, contributing to a 2-0 thrashing over Dignitas on Sunday. The series started on Mirage where mousesports dominated on the offensive side for a massive 11-4 lead. The team continued its dominance on the defensive side to close out Game 1 16-5 after Dignitas only won one offensive round in the second half. Game 2 shifted over to Overpass where Dignitas continued to struggle early as mouz pounced for a 13-2 lead on offense. Dignitas traded rounds in the second half but it was mousesports who came out on top as ropz closed the series out with a triple kill on the A-bombsite push to score a 16-5 win.

Week 2 of ECS Season 3 in Europe will resume April 25 at 7:00 PM ET. The North American region will begin 6:00 PM ET on April 20-23.