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Watch the group stage highlights from ESL One Belo Horizonte

Pictured: the home fans’ best hope for glory, Epitácio "TACO" de Melo of Team Liquid. Photo courtesy of Starladder.

Brazil is playing host to top-flight Counter-Strike again for the first time since 2016. The group stages of ESL One Belo Horizonte started on the 13th of June with three of the world’s top four teams in attendance. An exotic locale, a passionate Brazilian crowd and some exciting Counter-Strike awaited. With the group stages now concluded, let's look back at how each team fared. A quick disclaimer: since the English steam for this event was on Facebook, the highlight clips below are all foreign language. Fortunately, that doesn't detract much from the quality of the CS:GO on display. Starting off, it's a team with a point to prove going into this tournament...

Group A

FaZe Clan - 1st

Still missing olofmeister, they nonetheless entered the event as title contenders thanks to the form of their able stand in, Jørgen "cromen" Robertsen. The team thumped Ghost 2 - 0 in their opening match. They bested the dangerous Space Soldiers lineup 2 - 0 as well to comfortably book their place in the Semi-finals. FaZe have yet to be seriously tested in Belo Horizonte. That starts with their match against Team Liquid in the Semi-final.

SK Gaming - 2nd

The hometown heroes got off to a terrible start against Space Soldiers. World number one player of 2016 and 2017, Marcelo "coldzera" David, decided he’d had enough on Inferno and played some incredible rounds to bring SK back into contention. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly enough. They lost the series 0 - 2. SK easily brushed past Ghost and had to face Space Soldiers again in the packed arena for the Group A decider match. This time around the local boys managed to put on a better performance to send the Turks home. Here’s one of coldzera’s cold as ice clutches on Inferno in their opening match: In their final match, Stewie2K managed to bag a rather comedic ace while flashed:

Space Soldiers

In Brazil they’ve looked to be a real threat, showcasing their development as a team. Sadly, they weren’t able to best SK twice to make it through to the playoffs. Their star player Can "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş had a an excellent showing.

Ghost Gaming

There was no way this was going to go well for them with their recent roster shuffle. It didn’t. They need more time, although I’m not hopeful of their ultimate potential.

Group B

Mousesports - 1st

Mouz have been one of the most consist teams of the past six months. They arrived in Brazil without their star AWPer Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný and brought in retired Cloud 9 rifler Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert as a one-off replacement. I had some concerns as to how they’d fair without oskar, but those fears proved unfounded. The Europeans demolished Não Tem Como right out the gates, before getting the 2 - 0 over tournament favourites, Liquid. Playing against SK in the Semi-final is going to be quite the spectacle, even if Mouz should be too good for the Brazilians. Here’s ropz showed the 5-7 is still a potent pistol in the right hands against NTC with a 4K: ChrisJ’s superb AWP ace against Liquid:

Team Liquid - 2nd

The North American powerhouses have been a lock for making playoffs and finals throughout 2018. Liquid could be thought of as potential champions, with Faze and Mousesports fielding stand-ins at the event. They bested BIG without too much trouble, but came up short against Mousesports. A rematch against BIG yielded the same result as before, putting them into the playoffs. They’re going to need to step up significantly in the Semi-final.

BIG

The German roster with their English import Owen "smooya" Butterfield showed enough to be encouraged about their future prospects, even if they didn’t make it to the playoffs here.

Não Tem Como

A Brazilian lineup consisting of some familiar names from the past. They didn’t offer anything significant on the server at their first LAN, aside from taking a map off BIG. The Semi-finals start with FaZe vs Liquid at 16:00 CEST.