Bucharest was the first and last stop before the ESL One Hamburg Major for Evil Geniuses. While EG were stopped in the semi-finals by LGD, they got their hands on the all important qualifying points for coming in 3rd/4th, which brings them one step closer to the ultimate goal of reaching TI8 through direct invite.
On paper, Group B looked destined to be a tightly contested affair. Evil Geniuses could have been called the favorites to advance, but Mineski — fresh off a silver medal in StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3 — , Na`Vi and VGJ.Thunder had all earned their rights to be here through their regional qualifiers. Evil Geniuses and VGJ.Thunder faced up against each other not once, but twice in order to decide who would make it into the playoffs.
With the first match between the teams ending in a close 2-1 victory for EG, VGJ.Thunder was forced into an elimination match against Na`Vi. Na`Vi took a one game lead but VGJ.Thunder fought back with incredible performances from Sylar’s Anti-Mage in games 2 and 3. That secured a rematch against EG for VGJ.Thunder, but the rematch was once again settled in EG’s favor. The boys in blue took a 2-0 victory and secured themselves a top 4 placement at the Minor.
EG’s performance ties them for fourth overall in qualifying points with a number of teams who will not be competing at the Major. Most of all, it gives the North American squad real momentum leading up to the first Major of the season. The world is watching as teams earn their Circuit Points, and Hamburg will have a sizeable 1500 points on the line.
ESL Pro League
As the league is in the middle of a long two weeks pause before its final stretch, it’s the perfect time to check up on the teams’ chances. Most are still vying for a ticket to the offline finals, while for some, it is now down to survival.
On the old continent we find Fnatic (14-8) still on the top spot, although they now share it with FaZe. The very last matches were rough for our Swedes, but their stockpile of wins easily tanked the damage and it didn’t affect their placing negatively. Even in the worst case scenario — where they would lose all their matches while some specific teams win all theirs — has little chance to alter their fate. We will likely see them make the trip to Odense, Denmark, to participate in the finals. A serene last week is their reward for the good performance they displayed for the majority of the season. Joining them will be FaZe, in all likelihood, as the European team has had a spotless record in the last week. The other four spots are much more contested as many teams are within reach of each other, and we will definitely see fierce competition in that final week for the coveted top placings.
In the bottom half of the table, avoiding relegation is now the utmost priority. Even if some teams are a couple of wins away from booking their trip, some are also in the hot seat right now. Unfortunately, that’s the case for EnVyUs (8-12) who are now fighting to escape relegation. There was little action for the boys in blue recently in the league, as they only managed to trade maps with Heroic. Two things can still work in their favor. First, they are only 2 to 3 wins away from the teams ahead of them, and second, they still have six games to play. Tough opponents, but that’s room for improving their ranking nonetheless, and EnVy have the resources needed to upset the sort of teams they are about to face.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the situation is similar. Only one week left in the league; only one week left for the teams to try to consolidate their position, or change their fate.
Consolidating, is exactly what Team Liquid did in the sixth week with an excellent 5-1 record in just a handful of days. They’ve redeemed themselves after a few worrying losses by taking down the prodigies of Misfits, then Splyce, and trading maps with Immortals. Even though they had to break quite a sweat to achieve some of these wins, with two of their games going to overtime, the end result is the same. The Horse now boasts an excellent 15-7 score, which allows them to move up from 5th to 4th. As such, they have stacked the odds greatly in their favor in order to secure their travel to Europe alongside SK Gaming. Victories against Cloud 9 and Renegades, their remaining opponents, will make the difference between a lock for the finals, or the danger of being overtaken by a few teams surging in the last week.
It just so happens that Cloud 9 are among the teams that could prove dangerous. With a trophy claimed at DreamHack Denver, confidence will be on their side, and they are a force to be reckoned with. They also have a lot of opportunities to climb higher with numerous encounters in their last week. Close behind them are the Brazilians of Luminosity Gaming who could also make a great leap forward and pose a threat to Liquid’s placing. LG will indeed face relatively weak opposition from here on, and could rack up a copious amount of wins. Liquid must play this carefully, but if they do not rest on their laurels and prepare diligently, they should achieve safety for their LAN spot.
League of Legends
World Championships 2017
Every year at Worlds, one of the key questions for the playoffs is which Western teams will survive each round, and how many — if any — will reach the final two weeks of the tournament. This year, Fnatic, Misfits, and Cloud 9 all scraped into the top 8 bracket, but none survived the first round of the gauntlet.
The closest series of the quarter final was Fnatic’s encounter with Royal Never Give Up. Despite only playing 4 games, the series was the longest of all 4 matches, with the fastest game clocking in at a shade over 40 minutes.
Hardly anything separated the two teams for the first 24 minutes of game 1. They traded pickoffs and farm, but largely steered clear of any big engagements or commitments for objectives. However, when the two armies finally tried to contest Baron, RNG came out on top with the Baron kill and a team wipe. That advantage cascaded into more and more farm until RNG finally closed it out.
Baron once again proved decisive in game 2. Despite a very significant gold lead for Fnatic that topped out around 7.7k, RNG managed to accomplish objectives with very little resistance. RNG marched down the bottom lane and Fnatic could do little to prevent their nexus from falling.
Fnatic looked down and out, and game 3 looked like their final game in the tournament. RNG leapt into the lead and felled tower after tower, knocking on the nexus turrets by the 28th minute. Yet Fnatic held firm with their lives on the line and slowly battled back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit. Despite trading evenly at best during team fights, Fnatic claimed objectives on the other side of the map and slowly inched their way out of their corner. Caps and Rekkles doled out the damage — at least 78k each — and shoved RNG all the way back to their fountain and for another game.
Unfortunately, that would be Fnatic’s only victory. Game 4 seemed to be going well as Fnatic led in farm and kept RNG at bay — their first tower falling 25 minutes into the game. However, RNG were simply waiting for their lineup of Corki, Twitch and Jarvan to come online. Once it was go time, RNG steamrolled down the midlane and aimed straight for the jugular. 6 minutes after taking the first mid tower, the nexus was done.
Even though Fnatic’s return to Worlds ended too soon, they should be proud of a valiant effort that earned them a place among the 8 best teams in the world.
DreamHack: Denver 2017
DreamHack: Denver was held this weekend with competitions for some of North America’s most popular games. Team Liquid was in attendance, claiming top honors in Smash, Street Fighter and Quake Sacrifice, and a silver medal in Halo.
The most dominant performance of the event goes to Liquid’s Quake team for their clean sweep of Sacrifice. DaHanG and rapha sliced through every single team they faced from the qualifiers to the finals with 2-0s.
Liquid’s Halo squad looked set to mirror that accomplishment when they 3-0’d both Radiant and Evil Geniuses, but OpTic Gaming proved to be a stumbling block. Liquid rebounded in the lower bracket with two more sweeps over EnVyUs and Splyce to regain momentum. However, OpTic Gaming once again stood in the way to stop Liquid from sweeping their events.
Both of Liquid’s Fighting Game champions looked crisp and composed as they added more hardware to their trophy cabinets. Hungrybox cruised through the upper bracket and defeated rival Mango twice to seal the deal. NuckleDu showed a little more flair during his event, even debuting an ultimately unsuccessful Cammy in competition. Guile came to the rescue and secured another top placing for the defending Capcom Cup champion.