Na’Vi and BIG Clan both pull momentumental upsets to reach the ESL One: Cologne Grand Finals

Monumental might be an understatement when considering the type of day Big Clan, the only German-native team, had at ESL One: Cologne. The team that some thought didn’t even earn the invite to this event are three map wins away from doing the unthinkable and winning the whole damn event. It all comes down to one huge game, in front of a massive crowd of rabid Counter-Strike fans in Germany.

The storylines coming out of this event, aside from an early exit from Team Liquid, were all focused on the insurgence of the German side. The former NRG team, headed by tabseN and gob b, who is looked at as influential leaders on BIG, were certainly not a popular pick to make a deep run. After losing early to Fnatic on day two, BIG came together and strung together a strong performance after another.

TabseN’s and nex went absolutely off in the win: a combined 155 kills, and a staggering +44 that ultimately sealed the deal for FaZe Clan and their hopes of winning the intel grand slam. On all three maps, these two players made it increasingly difficult on Rain to clutch out rounds, and they essentially shutdown Guardian, who was having a strong ESL before the loss. FaZe looked like the team to beat once again, but after gaining momentum in that the third and final map of the match, BIG Clan never slowed down. The 12-3 first half sealed any hopes of a FaZe win.

Who Wins the Finals?

Picking between these two teams is tough considering both are coming off emotional, upset wins. Both teams enter Sunday with an amazing sense of momentum at their backs, and it feels as if the intangibles will make the difference. Natus Vincere definitely has the experience advantage, but it’s going to be a full-house of German fans feverishly chanting for their new German heroes.

For Na’vi, it took all they had in them to get past the Dutch side, Astralis. Seeing Zeus pop-off on Inferno and Electronic play a consistent, frag-heavy game is the main reasons this team was able to pull it off. Astralis is going to overwhelm teams top-to-bottom, but with Simp1e playing, at arguably an MVP level all it takes is a few other Na’vi players to step up. That’s how this team got over the hump and have a serious chance of winning it all.

Now, despite all the hype surrounding BIG Clan, and the crowd support they’ll surely receive tomorrow, Na’vi has to be looked upon as the favorite. BIG Clan looked like the best team overall, but it’s tough to see them duplicating their peak performance like they did on map three against FaZe. If that team shows up, Na’vi’s in for a treat, but with Simp1e playing at his mind-blowingly strong level, it’s going to be tough to shut down that firepower.

Featured Image courtesy of ESL

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ESL One: Cologne Final Four: How We Got Here

Astralis, FaZe, BIG, and Natus Vincere. The Final four of ESL One: Cologne as the final two days of the event approaches. Two of these teams will be going home after today. The least likely to win will easily be played by BIG and Na’Vi, who both had surprising but strong runs all the way through to the semifinals.

Astralis

Let’s take a look back at the past week, Astralis has put up staggering numbers in their five map wins. Of the top five ranked players through the week, Astralis has three of the top five, according to HLTV. The Dutch team has managed to put a hurting on opponents with great accuracy numbers and a low death total. Dupreeh has the highest rating with a +41 kill to death ratio, but Ga1ve and Device have been just as instrumental to their fantastic start.

FaZe Clan

Overall, FaZe Clan strung together the strongest set of games from any time I spectated this week. The team as a whole dominated, but Rain’s sheer carrying mentality came through as he utterly outclassed teams in their six ESL One maps. A +46 K/D ratio and the highest accuracy of any player makes him a threat to win the MVP at Cologne. Guadrian’s also had big performances along with NIko, which is business as usual.

FaZe did drop a game to Fnatic, but outside of that, it’s been business as usual. Sights will be set on Astralis, as this game will serve as a trap game for both FaZe and Astralis. Overlooking these opponents could result in going home early.

BIG

BIG’s path to this point required some bracket luck and despite not finding a player within the top ten of player rating, they’re still playing well enough to pull off the upset. BIG enters the semifinals with a 7-4 record, dropping four maps this tournament. It’s been a hard fought road to this point for BIG. BIG dropped games against Fnatic, Renegades, and MIBR. The margins of victory for this team were narrow, going to overtime in an elimination TWO TIMES this tournament.

Na’Vi

Unlike BIG, Na’vi’s got a less balanced attack and been more reliant on S1mple being an absolute madman. S1imple’s been insane in his last few matches as Na’vi needed it to power through Fnatic in the quarterfinals and ENCE Esports earlier on in the bracket. Similarly to BIG, Na’vi journey had them lose to G2 in round one, and later pass that team that sent them to the losers bracket. If Na’vi gets anything from Edward and Zeus, Astralis could be in for some trouble.

Both players sit at a combined -30, but the rest of Na’Vi are a combined +197 kills so I’d say that evens out.

Prediction: Astralis over Na’vi, FaZe over BIG

Astralis> FaZe in the finals

Featured photo courtesy of reddit user Skaronator

Element Mystic Open the Overwatch Contenders Season with a Razor Thin Victory over Seven

Element Mystic opens up their second season of Overwatch Contenders pretty much the same way they started season one: winning with style. In a matchup between the two of the higher placing regular season teams in season one, Mystic Element got bigger performances and ended up taking the match by the thinnest of margins.

By no means was Seven overmatched at any point in the match, as they pushed the team who finished 18-2 last season. It took a ridiculous Widowmaker performance out of Xzi and the many intelligent plays from Doca on D.Va that led to this victory. Outside of those two, finding the right times to unveil Torbjörn on defense.

Both Numbani and Watchpoint: Gibraltar displayed a strong showing and understanding from Element Mystic on how to play Torbjörn. Rapel, who’s primarily a Zenyatta-main, and a very strong one at that, surprised everyone with his bait on Torb. Setting Xzi far behind on point A with Widow and playing the turret in the hallway allowed on the Numbani high-ground prevented any attempts at dive-pressure from D.va or Winston.

The Torbjörn pick was fun, but the heart of the Element Mystic lineup returns again to the presence of Repal, Doca, and Xzi. These three came through in a big way today. Each one contributing in diverse ways and adding value all over the map. In fact, Doca deserves the MVP for constantly moving and shooting. Doca was a pest on the Seven snipers all game.

However, it’s hard to say Xzi didn’t deserve the recognition for his insane Widowmaker plays. Doca essentially protected Xzi with strong frontline play, but Xzi wasn’t missing many shots onto squishy characters. In the Widowmaker duel category, Xzi had an overwhelming advantage in kills. And Overwatch being a team game means both players helped each other immensely.

Seven Come Back Strong

Yes, Seven would’ve preferred to start the season off with a win, but let\s remember how both these teams ended season one. Top three in the regular season only to fall quickly in the first round. Seven to Meta Bellum and Element Mystic to O2 Ardeont. Falling that early after a strong season can do irreversible damage to a team and leads to questioning a teams talent when it’s often times just one bad game. It’s good to see both teams come out firing.

For Seven, Fr3e gave Doca on the other side a run for his money in terms of overall team value. In losing situations for Seven when Xzi was getting picks, Fr3e was the one Seven player turning disadvantage situations with his ability to drop tons of damage. Mika (Mercy) and Adora (damage) also looked on point, but that wasn’t enough to stop the three-headed wrecking ball of Mystic Element.

Featured photo courtesy of GSL

Leenock with a strong showing as he qualifies for GSL Code S Round of 16

Leenock finished his day in impressive fashion over Dear after falling to Maru in the winner’s match of the group. The four straight wins over Dear in the group stages pushed him back into the round of 16 in a Code S. One of StarCraft 2’s most talented and dedicated individuals is looking like much more than just an average player. More performances similar to tonight will lead to a deep playoff run.

Now, Dear is absolutely no joke as a Protoss player. One of the few players to a royal road a Code S in GSL, and at one point in time the best player in the world. Leenock had his hands full with the matchup but still managed to win both sets quickly. Dear tried different things, working in some all-ins and more macro intensive strategies, but each time it was sniffed out by Leenock.

The first map, Leenock fell into a small deficit with Dear’s macro being so efficient, but once he noticed it, it only took a few effective baneling busts to flip the worker count heavily in Leenock’s favor. The metagame surrounding Protoss vs. Zerg is geared heavily towards constant pressure with Zergling run-by, Overlord drops and spreading out a Protoss army between three bases. Leenock did this to perfection on the map Lost and Found.

Taking out 28 workers with two baneling’s is quite the impressive feat. It was clear, that despite having somewhat of a lesser army, in terms of composition, Leenock still found ways to win with his harassment. It was essentially the perfect way to play Zerg in this matchup especially in more of a macro-game.

In the last game, Dear was feeling the immense pressure of losing four straight to Leenock. Entering that game it felt as if Dear’s spirit was broken and the proficient Zerg player completed the full-sweep holding a last-ditch charge all-in.  As the video entails, Leenock held strongly by taking out the warp prism early, shutting down any possibility of the attack working out.

It was a quick 2-0 of Dear and must have had the same effect of mouthwash: it got the bad taste of barely losing to Maru out of his mouth. If Leenock plays anything like he did today, he will make a deep playoff run in this season of Code S.

Featured Image courtesy of GSL

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GLL PUBG Season 2 European Finalist: Pittsburgh Knights Win Big

Season two of the Global Loot League has come to an end with a number of different regions qualifying for the Grand Finals in August. The North America season ended last night with Team Gates winning week six overall, but Totality placing first.  Europe’s finals ended this afternoon and the top seven teams have been decided:

GLL.jpg

The Pittsburgh Knights ended the tournament as the top squad, earning nearly five thousand points. The Knights also led the European division in overall kills with 147. The next three qualifying teams hovered around 4,100 using different approaches.  FaZe Clan finished second relying on aggressive pushing on enemy teams and fighting as much as possible. Team Vitality is a more patient group, winning round four in week six. Team Liquid understands how to place high without engaging better than anyone.

The next four teams to fill into those bottom four spots: Moonwolf in fifth (3,810 pts, 131 kills), Penta Esports in sixth (3,757 pts, 99 kills), and in the last qualifying spot Team Extra from Germany grab it wth a staggering 138 kills. Method missed out by a measly 48 points, meaning each one of those 138 Extra kills mattered in the end. G2 also missed out by a few hundred points. Razor thing margin up-and-down, with the Knights sperating themselves at the top.

 

Echo Fox Reverse Sweeps Team Kaliber a day after doing it to Red Reserve in the CWL Pro League

One day after ending Red Reserve’s win streak with a reverse sweep, Echo Fox comes from the depths of a 0-3 halftime deficit against Team Kaliber, in game three, down two maps, to pulling out one of the most remarkable comebacks of season two. It took all Echo Fox had to offer, but they pulled off the upset and moved ahead of TK in the standings.

Game One – Hardpoint

In similar fashion to Red Reserve, Team Kaliber started off playing a strong defensive game, mainly using Accuracy to hold down the hardpoint as the SMG’s go out and pick off Echo Fox at spawn. Accuracy was the hero of London Docks, as TK could rely on him holding down the point with little help. This lead to big plays, as Accuracy setup perfectly when the point was finally secured.

Accuracy ended up dropping 41 kills on Docks and was a +14 in kill-death ratio. He turned a number of bad situations into favorable ones, with the correct spacing on approaching SMG’s. Accuracy stayed out of range, making it tough to get in on him. Outside of that F3RO and Kenny traded enough to earn the win.

Game Two – Search & Destroy

Search & Destroy is where Echo Fox made it’s living against Evil Geniuses and Red Reserve yesterday, but going against F3RO and an impressive TK setup on Ardennes Forest, sending Accuracy top-side and letting F3RO roam, caused problems for Exho Fox. It was a struggle trying to break that setup, and that showed up with F3RO’s and Accuracy’s kill-death. Kenny, on the other hand, played extremely aggressive and often times traded positively on his SMG.

Kenny dropped 11 kills on the TK map win. Saints had his moments on this map for Echo Fox, but with Faccento getting shut down trying to work towards the high-ground, where Accuracy setup, it wasn’t enough. TK also worked the objective much more efficiently than Echo Fox getting almost double the plants.

Game Three – Flak Tower

45 seconds into Flak Tower, F3RO picked a few kills, grabbed the flag, and returned it to his base. This put immense pressure on Echo Fox to step up and do something. Nothing change after that in the first half, TK continued to push all half. F3RO went absolutely off early on. It wasn’t until a quick two caps from Temp that spurred the comeback.

In every situation, every map count, and any deficit, Echo Fox is finding miracle ways to win these maps. The work on Flak Tower is nothing short of miraculous. When this team needed plays, someone was bound to step up. Look at Temp, before his captures, he was getting out-fragged badly in his base against F3RO. However, when Echo Fox needed it most, he played objective-based and pushed two huge flag caps.

The hero play coming out of Aqua, against both TK and Red Reserve, deserves plenty of attention. He wasn’t the main fragger for Echo Fox, but when a play was needed to be made Aqua has consistently made it.

The Magic of Echo Fox Saints and Faccento

There’s plenty of crossover between these two teams. Faccento, as he said in his post-game interview, grew up playing with some of the TK guys. Saints earned his notoriety with Team Kaliber and are now one of the best assault rifle players in the CWL. There’s no love lost, and after their performances today it’s sure to add fuel to the rivalry fire.

In the last two days, Saints has put up daunting numbers, finding a large number of kills. The final two games of the matchup with TK lead to huge clutch plays from both players, the cornerstone of Echo Fox’s 3-0 week five was the clutch plays in key moments.

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Team WTSG Steals the Spotlight from Faze and Team Liquid in week five of the GLL Season

After the first two rounds of week five, Team Liquid and Faze Gaming were lapping the competition. The two most respected teams in Europe came through strong, but in the end, it was WTSG (Welcome to South Georgopool) that stole the day. Two back-to-back chicken dinners for WTSG pushed the over the top, and into the top 20.

For team WTSG, it was the peak of their season today. After winning week four of Bravo and earning a spot in the Alpha group, the heavy-fragging Welcome to South Georgopool came into week five of the Alpha group and never backed down to the likes of Team Liquid or FaZe. Even after a slow start in round one, their ability to slay showed up big and carried them to a couple victories.

The forgotten aspect of their decisive win today was in how they stayed together, pushed the circle correctly, and landed the kills necessary when positioning lined up correctly. They even managed to finish second to FaZe in the second round meaning there was potential to take three of four rounds. Overall, fairly impressive showing from a team who was playing in Bravo last week.

Team Liquid and FaZe Build Leads

FaZe brought it today, despite a rather lackluster second half. The 36 kill total leads all qualified teams and was nine better than the next best team (team WTSG). No team moves quite like FaZe, and despite some odd circles that went against their position, FaZe still managed to stick to coordinate attacks without proper cover.

Team Liquid also had a nice afternoon and stuck to their basic game plan of slow-playing and focusing on circle positioning. In most cases, Team Liquid is in the best position with the most open space. This happened in the first two games, and it almost netted them two wins without a smart FaZe flank in the closing circle to seal the win.

The two sit second and third, respectively, in the Alpha group. One for their exceptional kill rating and the other for placing high in nearly every round with superior positioning. The team leading in overall points, the Knights, are doing a fairly good job in both categories, only sitting one kill behind FaZe for most in the GLL season two. The Knights also fought through some bad situations en route to a pretty successful week five.

FaZe and the Knights are in a dead heat for the top spot, only separated by a few hundred points. Team Liquid is a little farther down the list with the best overall pacing record, but 45 kills less than FaZe and Knights. Team WTSG looks like a serious threat moving forward. They’re unquestionably on a hot streak, but it will be interesting to see where that team ends up in season two.

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