NRG Esports gains ground in Week 8 of North American ESL Pro League

A crowd takes in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals at the Intel Extreme Masters event on March 1 in Katowice, Poland. Provided by ESL

SK Gaming and Cloud9 got Week 8 of the North American ESL Pro League off while participating in CS Summit, so it was time for the other teams in the top six to try and gain some ground. At week's end, though, not much had changed.

Immortals, which was running fourth going into Week 8, took on compLexity Gaming on Tuesday in a series that was much closer than it had any business being. Starting off on Cache, Immortals raced out to a 9-2 start in the first half before compLexity won four straight to end the half with a respectable 9-6 scoreline. But in the second half, Immortals needed just 11 rounds to get the final seven wins needed to wrap up the 16-10 victory.

Immortals got off to a blazing start on Cobblestone for Game 2, this time going into the second half up 12-3. While compLexity tried to make a game of things by taking nine of the first 11 rounds in the second half, Immortals was too far ahead already and picked up the final two wins needed for a 16-12 win. The two wins put Immortals at 45 points, which catapulted it above Team Liquid and into a tie with Cloud9 for second place.

Renegades didn't play until the final day of the week but did manage to make a bit of headway in its series against Counter Logic Gaming on Friday. Renegades got all it could handle from CLG in the first game on Cobblestone. The teams basically traded wins back and forth the entire way until they were forced to play two overtime rounds to settle the score. Renegades started the first overtime nicely with three wins, but then CLG battled back to force a second overtime where it won all four rounds for a 22-18 win.

CLG seemed to put all its energy into that grueling match, which left it floundering in the second game on Train. Renegades raced out to a 13-2 lead in the first half before easily finishing up the game in the second half to split the series with a 16-2 win. Renegades have solidified its hold on the sixth spot in the standings with 36 points on the season.

NRG Esports had the biggest opportunity to change the landscape in the upper echelons of the standings with two series in Week 8, and it took advantage. Starting off against the lowly Rush, which has only won three games on the season, NRG made the most of its opportunity. Rush put up a bit of a fight in the first half of the first game on Mirage, ending with NRG up 8-7, but the second half was all NRG to the tune of a 16-8 win. Game 2 was on Inferno, and things were even more one-sided, with NRG taking a massive 13-2 lead into the half. It was no problem for NRG to lock up the 16-5 win with a strong performance in the second half.

NRG faced Misfits to close out the week with one more shot at climbing in the standings. The first half was on Inferno, and Misfits immediately made things tougher than Rush could. After 10 rounds, things were all even at five, but then NRG founds its stride and ending the game in strong fashion. It went 11-4 over the rest of the game to pick up the 16-9 win. The next game got off to a very rough start for NRG, as Misfits jumped out to a 7-2 lead out the gate before finishing the half up 11-4. NRG played well in the second half, though, and won eight of the first 11 rounds in the half to bring the score to 14-12. However, Misfits needed just two more wins to take the map, and it did just that to secure the 16-12 win to split the series. NRG's 3-1 record on the week put it in a tie for fourth place with Team Liquid.

The top of the standings are setting up for an intriguing finish to the season. SK Gaming (48 points), Cloud9 (45 points) and Immortals (45 points) are sitting in the top three, while NRG Esports (42 points), Team Liquid (42 points) and Renegades (36 points) round out the top six. Week 9 begins Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET with Team Liquid taking on Cloud9 in an very important match in terms of standings.