Team Liquid started the new patch off with a bang as they won Dota Pit through the upper bracket without dropping a game until the grand finals against Vici Gaming. Fnatic had a tough first round opponent in VP but a terrific performance from Ohaiyo on Clockwerk put them up one game against them. Unfortunately, Fnatic’s momentum was halted in game two and VP closed out the series 2-1. Fnatic then fell to the deadly lower bracket best of one’s and, despite a solid effort, lost to OG.
Team Liquid’s path to the finals had them taking on Immortals in the first round. The Korean squad was no match for Liquid as MATUMBAMAN debuted the reworked Viper in both games with deadly results. TL’s next series would be a rematch of the TI7 finals as they faced Newbee. After winning the first game with a 21-1 Miracle- Anti-Mage and the appearance of GH’s Pudge, KuroKy once again went to the new Viper for MATUMBAMAN and TL took the series with a clean 2-0 win.
The next team to face Team Liquid would be Vici Gaming. The Chinese team had come back from the jaws of defeat against OG and beat them 2-1 in the first round of the tournament only to find themselves up against the Hamburg Major winners Virtus Pro. Many assumed VP would easily take down VG and play against Liquid but Vici Gaming proved to be a tougher opponent than many predicted. After a 65-minute-long game VG stood with a one game advantage against VP, and in game two eLeVeN’s Beastmaster and a 20-1 performance from Paparazi’s Lifestealer gave VG the 2-0 upset over VP.
TL and VG faced off not once but twice at Dota Pit. While Team Liquid took the winner’s bracket finals convincingly, Vici Gaming was hungry for a rematch. VG had to beat Newbee in order to make it to the grand finals and after pushing the series to a deciding game three they emerged as the victors in a 65-minute back and forth brawl. The grand finals began and VG had a clear plan to deal with Team Liquid. They won the first game, and then the second in two very long drawn out matches with strong team fight and late-game cores. It was at this moment that the brilliance of Heen, KuroKy, and the rest of Liquid shone through. Team Liquid delivered three outstanding performances in a row to snatch victory away from VG’s fingertips and cement themselves as the first champions of 7.07 with a remarkable comeback.
Americas Minor Championship
The road to ELEAGUE’s 2018 Major, which will take place in Boston, has already been exciting for North America’s professional Counter-Strike teams and fans alike. The past weekend’s Americas Minor Championship was no different.
After the initial group stage, only Team Liquid and CLG emerged from their respective pools with 2-0 records, leading to what would later become a tremendous upper bracket showdown between the two.
Before that could occur, however, the unpredictability of North American Counter-Strike was revealed yet again in the playoffs. Similar to several tournament stints we’ve seen from Liquid recently, they struggled in the early stages of the tournament. Though the group stage seemed to slide by with ease, Misfits caught them by surprise and annihilated them on Cobblestone before finishing the series on the third map, Mirage. On the opposite side of the board, compLexity was sent to the lower bracket by CLG, to face off against Liquid.
After a tough road into the playoffs and a soul-crushing experience at the hands of CLG, compLexity had close to nothing left in the tank. Liquid struck them down for the final time, winning 16-9 & 16-8 on Inferno and Cobblestone respectively. The nearly endless path to the grand finals seemed unimaginable for Liquid, but with newly gained morale and a little bit of hope, the Americans could accomplish the feat.
Day four of the championship seemed to come in an instant, leaving only two series left to be played — the losers final and the grand finals. Misfits had already locked themselves into a guaranteed slot after a nail-biting upset over CLG the night before, which meant that Liquid and CLG had to battle it out for a spot in the main qualifier. With contention on their mind, Liquid did just that. Defeating CLG 16-1 on Inferno, and 16-12 on Cache, Team Liquid set a rematch against the familiar opponents that had sent them to the losers bracket in the first place.
This time, however, the taste of revenge and the hope for a championship title carried Team Liquid to victory. Though Misfits would once again take Cobblestone by three rounds on the first map of the series, Team Liquid ultimately prevailed by proving themselves on Train and Mirage. After a shocker in the first round, Team Liquid will now have the opportunity to test themselves against the best teams in the world as the Americas Minor Champion.
European Minor Championship
On the European side of the Minor Championship, eight teams from all over the continent made their way to the PGL studios in Bucharest. Their objective was similar to that of Team Liquid’s: claim one of the two spots in the ELEAGUE Major Qualifier.
Among the attending teams were EnVyUs, on their way to reclaiming a Major spot. The Frenchmen had to fight their way through a mix of seasoned teams, such as the European roster of OpTic Gaming, GODSENT, and the dangerous Turks from Space Soldiers.
The first match pitted EnVyUs against the Bulgarian team, Windigo Gaming. What looked like a very tough match for our players ended up with a victory in overtime 19-15. Despite a great deal of rounds where the French side started on the wrong foot, a stellar performance from Happy, including plenty of clutches, helped EnVyUs start their group with a win. It looked like that was just the right amount of confidence to head into their winner match against AGO, which they won without breaking a sweat, 16-7, sending them to the bracket early.
EnVy’s first bracket opponent was Space Soldiers, a team that has always been dangerous with their excellent players, XANTARES and Calyx. They proved too much for the French in this encounter, pushing EnVyUs down to the lower bracket for a rematch against AGO Gaming. The Polish squad looked eager to get revenge, and opened the score by taking the first map, Cobblestone. EnVyUs bounced back and claimed the next two maps, working around ScreaM’s excellent gunplay. The team mounted a great comeback on the third map, following a superb clutch from xms in the second pistol round. A hard fought victory rewarded EnVyUs with what should have been an even more challenging match, against OpTic Gaming. On paper, OpTic had a strong lineup composed of seasoned players and the young prodigy Magisk. Yet this didn’t faze EnVyUs. A quick 2-0 later, and Happy’s men had claimed their first objective, a Major Qualifier spot.
Still, the Minor wasn’t done, as there still was a final to be played between the upper and lower bracket winners. Space Soldiers had made it there, after dispatching OpTic Gaming in a full length series, including an overtime game. They awaited EnVyUs to determine who would be crowned victor of this European Minor, and get the lion’s share of the $50,000 prize pool. Unfortunately, there would be no revenge this time and EnVy had to settle for second place, but their goal was met, and their road to the Major continues.
Smash Summit 5
As the last supermajor event of the Melee calendar year, the Smash Summit offers some of the highest level competition available. The central narrative for the weekend would stick to that theme and revolve around the rivalry between first and second seeds, Team Liquid’s Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma and Alliance’s Adam “Armada” Lindgren.
During the early part of the year, Armada looked like the undisputed best player in the world, taking first place at every event he attended for the first five months of 2017. Hungrybox, on the other hand, was always watching his opponents raise the trophy, with numerous second and third place finishes across multiple major events.
It wasn’t until the latter half of this year that Hungrybox hit his stride, bringing home five straight tournaments heading into Summit. Having got the better of Armada in their last three encounters, Hbox was seeded the favorite to take a supermajor, for only the second time in his professional career.
Hungrybox advanced to winners’ side of Grand Finals with relative ease, dropping only two games: one to Mang0 and one to Leffen. Armada, coming off of a thrilling reverse sweep over Wizzrobe, would drop to losers’ bracket after a five game set against fellow countryman Leffen. From there, he would go on to defeat Axe, Mang0, and then even the score with a 3-0 in the runback against Leffen en route to the grand finals.
The grand finals gave us nothing less than what we’d come to expect; a fiery back-and-forth set between the best players in the world, trading matches until the concluding fifth game. With the tournament and the number one ranking on the line, the last stock scenario ended with Hungrybox coming out on top.
The event marked the end of an Armada-dominated tournament series, as he had yet to lose any of the previous four iterations of Smash Summit, and the beginning of Hungrybox’s reign as number one. With 2017 winding down, and one of the most heated rivalries escalating to new heights, “Summit” is a fitting title for a series where trials are conquered and champions crowned.
Heroes of the Storm Global Championship
BlizzCon weekend was a blast, and Fnatic almost made it a 5 for 5 this weekend. Fnatic proved their pedigree by reaching the grand finals at BlizzCon before falling to a dominant MVP Black side.
During the group stage, Fnatic barely had to break out a sweat as they qualified for the playoffs in first place. A mild scare from Team Freedom on Towers of Doom was mitigated by a methodical win on Infernal Shrines to close out the series. Dob ‘Quackniix’ Engstrom’s Falstad was once again key.
In the quarter finals, Fnatic faced Tempo Storm, a strong team that had placed first in HGC NA Phase #1 tournament. Despite a shock in the first game, Fnatic quickly bounced back while showing their versatility, picking 13 heroes of the possible 15 in the series. That set up a meeting against L5. Instead of the back and forth series that fans had expected, Fnatic thrashed them 3-0 seting up a highly anticipated clash between arguably the two best teams in the world.
MVP Black, up until the finals, had not lost a single map. They possessed a pristine 7-0 record against the likes of Team Expert, Team Freedom, and Tempo Storm. However, Fnatic put a stop to the MVP bulldozer by claiming the first map of the grand finals. Falstad was once again key to the win, but a team effort would be required to take the series. Unfortunately, one game would be all Fnatic could muster, as MVP Black turned it on in three straight games to earn the title of best Heroes of the Storm team in the world.