ESL ONE Hamburg
The first Major of the 2017-2018 season also marked the end of the TI7 7.06 patch. The future will be determined by how quickly teams can adapt to new talents, reworked heroes, a new metagame and a slightly different map with new bounty rune placements and brand new pathways to get from place to place. However ESL ONE Hamburg still had Team Liquid, EG, and Fnatic playing on old familiar ground. EG and Fnatic were placed in Group A while Team Liquid was in Group B. Team Liquid faced their first loss in the group stages in what felt like forever at the hands of Virtus Pro in a close 2-1 series, but rebounded against Keen Gaming, easily sweeping them 2-0 to secure their playoff position, and more importantly earning more qualifying points for TI8 to add to their collection.
In the other group EG and Fnatic found themselves facing off against each other in the first elimination match, and while EG came out on top, an interview with Ohaiyo from Fnatic showed the team was still in good spirits as they awaited the new patch. Ohaiyo and Fnatic also went into the tournament with a plan in mind, “We thought that we should just play pubs on the new patch and figure out what we want to do, just go step by step. For example, we just wanted to come to this tournament and look at these top tier teams and study and figure out how they play and how they draft.”
EG went on to face Newbee, the TI7 runner-up, in their next elimination match. EG took a lead by winning their first game with Universe’s Pugna, Sumail’s Queen of Pain, and Arteezy’s Monkey King all doing tremendous work. The series then became a slugfest with both teams exchanging kills and advantages until Newbee came out on top in two 60-minute games and eliminated EG 2-1, ending the team’s run in Fear’s first major on his return to professional Dota.
Team Liquid would also suffer defeat soon after, in the semi-finals against Team Secret 2-1 in an upset few would have predicted. Despite a leisurely game 1, Secret had very solid drafts in the following two games to seal the deal. An atypical Bristleback pick and a pocket Lion to counter the Spirit Breaker helped propel them into the finals.
Team Liquid’s showing still nets them 150 qualifying points, as much as their win at StarLadder in Kiev, and puts them in third place overall. Fnatic and Team Liquid will both be competing at Dota Pit in Split, Croatia which starts only four days after the conclusion of ESL One Hamburg.
ECS - Midpoint Review
The past few weeks of ECS’s North American Counter-Strike league has proven to be as unpredictable as the NA scene gets, and though the overall standings may have fallen the way we’d somewhat expect them to, tuning in to the daily best of one match-ups will never fail to surprise you.
Sitting at the midpoint of the eight week season, Cloud 9 boasts a 12-2 overall record, while SK and Team Liquid fall short as the runners-up, holding 9-7 and 8-4 records respectively. But that’s not to say we haven’t seen some inexplicably odd results coming from the top squads of NA league.
The mystery of the season so far has been Team Liquid, who have been winning matchups they should be losing, and losing matchups they should be seamlessly winning. After a star studded set of victories over SK last Wednesday, TL would go on to lose both bouts versus the 7th place OpTic—something that can’t continue to occur, especially if the young lineup expects to stand as a contender once the Season 4 Playoffs make an entrance.
Keep in mind that there are still four weeks remaining in the season, so Team Liquid could continue make their way up the never ending ladder of NA competition and unpredictability. We are finally beginning to see Liquid’s roster getting comfortable with each other, and it’s no doubt that a second place finish could be within their reach if consistency is achieved.
Despite the fact that we have hit the midpoint of the season, teams like Astralis have played only a few matches so far as the result of a chaotic schedule. In contrast, EnVyUs have already completed seven. A logical consequence is that the rankings as they are now are far from definitive, and things will shift a lot in the upcoming weeks.
Notwithstanding these wobbly first weeks, the league still saw some noteworthy performances. Fnatic has had an excellent run so far, mirroring their pristine start in the ESL Pro League. They mostly scored wins, and only had to settle for draws against FaZe and Astralis, which could be expected when going against some of the best teams of the moment. Save for one overtime game, they breezed past the rest with a JW in vintage form and a deadly Lekr0 as the major artisans of this dominance. The Swedes don’t have a lot of matches remaining compared to most of the teams, but should be able to score more wins against G2, mousesports and Virtus.pro. The French could prove to be a challenge to beat, as they’ve been picking up steam lately both online and offline, but Virtus.pro will, in all likeliness, make up for that as the Poles are known for their weak online performances. As for now, Fnatic possess a firm edge and lead the league with a 10-2 record, even surpassing FaZe who sit at 7-3.
Coincidentally, something worth noting is that in these three FaZe losses, one is surprisingly the deed of EnVyUs. While the Frenchmen had a rough time scoring wins in the first weeks, trading map for map in most matches, they can boast wins against the super European team on Train. A stunning performance from RpK helped net this hunting trophy in a quite convincing fashion with a 16-7 score. The team will now have to focus and prepare well for its remaining matches as they still are in troubled waters. Against Heroic and mousesports, victories are more than attainable, and will be essential to remain in the league.
The final international premiere of the Capcom Pro Tour ended last weekend with the always thrilling and incredibly stacked Canada Cup..
While we weren’t able to grab a victory, many Monster players were in attendance and fought valiantly. The pressure to qualify was felt the most by Evil Geniuses Kenneth ‘K-Brad’ Bradley who was on the cusp of Capcom Cup qualifications and needed a 3rd place finish to punch his ticket to the year-end finale. K-Brad ended up tied at 49th which means he will have only two more chances to qualify for Capcom Cup at the North American Regional Finals and Last Chance Qualifier — a one day, winner-gets-in event held the day before the Capcom Cup finale.
Other Monster players in attendance included Evil Geniuses Christopher ‘NYChrisG’ Gonzales who placed 33rd in Street Fighter and 5th in the Marvel vs. Capcom Battle of the Stones event, for which he will be appearing in the finals as a previous Evolution Champion in the Marvel series. Rounding out the results were Evil Geniuses and Capcom Cup 2016 runner-up Ricki Ortiz at 17th, and leading the Monster crew was the reigning Capcom Cup champion, Team Liquid’s Du ‘NuckleDu’ Dang, who was the highest placing North American player at 4th. Japanese legends, Cyclops Osaka’s Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki, Goichi “Go1” Kishida and DNT’s Hiromiki “Itabashi” Kumada swept the podium capturing the top 3 spots.
While the Evil Geniuses squad in attendance wasn’t able to improve their chances for a Capcom Cup appearance, hope is not lost. They will all be able to participate in the North American last chance qualifier, which feeds into the North American Regionals Finals, as well as the Capcom Cup last chance qualifier, which as mentioned above, is a ‘win and get in’ event. We will be cheering for them as the competition will be ferocious but with these players’ histories, the monumental task ahead is definitely surmountable.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
In the Melee segment of Canada Cup, Alliance’s Adam "Armada" Lindgren was expected to claim another trophy — especially with some top players absent. With big rival Hungrybox claiming the past four major tournaments in a row, this was Armada’s opportunity to answer back and take back the lead as the world’s best player. His sidekick and younger brother, Andreas "Android" Lindgren, also had a chance to make a splash in the single’s bracket.
Much was expected of the Swedish great, and he steamrolled through the competition until the final bracket. There, he met fellow Swede Leffen for a Fox-on-Fox mirror matchup. Leffen proved better on the day as he claimed three straight maps to knock Armada off his perch and down to the losers’ side of the bracket. There he had to face Mew2King for a chance at the runback, and they traded maps until the set was tied two-apiece. Unfortunately, Armada’s Peach fell flat on Fountain of Dreams as M2K sealed his place in the finals with two stocks remaining.
While 3rd place is an impressive result for anyone, Armada isn’t just anyone, and will rue a title that was almost his. Android, on the other hand, earned a respectable 7th/8th by winning three straight sets after falling to the lower bracket against Ryan Ford. The duo also placed second in doubles, losing in the finals against the weekend’s two singles finalists, Leffen and M2K.