Monster teams had a lot to be thankful for this week as they racked up points, wins, and tournament seeds across the board. Vici Gaming continued their string of impressive results with a silver at Perfect World Masters while Liquid showed their mastery of the unorthodox in Midas Mode. Liquid and Fnatic both earned trips to the ECS Finals, while the Swedes and EnVyUs locked their places for the WESG Grand Finals.
The Perfect World Masters
After their 2nd place finish at Dota Pit, Vici Gaming made another grand finals appearance in the Perfect World Masters. Paparazi, Ori, and eLeVeN started the tournament off strong, winning their lanes and crippling the opponent's early game with help from the rotations made by LaNm and Fenrir. The first day of the group stage immediately set VG apart from the other teams assembled in Shanghai and they 2-0’d SG e-sports and Vega Squadron — taking only 35 minutes per game. While VG did drop their games against LFY, they claimed 1st place in their group with their subsequent win over Complexity with another 2-0. Throughout the group stage both Paparazi and Ori had multiple games where they died only once or not at all.
During the main stage, VG went on to 2-0 Mineski and Team Secret in order to make it to the upper bracket finals to face Newbee. They were knocked into the lower bracket where they faced one of the tournament favourites, and the team who beat them during the group stage, LFY. VG went into the series against LFY prepared and claimed two of the most one sided wins of the tournament, clocking in at under 25 and 18 minutes. This set VG up with a rematch against Newbee. Unfortunately, Vici Gaming could not accomplish the reversal and lost 3-0. The score belied the quality of the games as they were some of the closest games of the tournament. Either team was capable of winning any of the three games. While the championship title may have eluded VG once more, the DPC points they earned moves them further up the rankings and gives them a hefty barrier against the lower ranked teams.
The inaugural Midas Mode tournament put on by Moonduck lived up to expectations — and then some! We got to see teams random their heroes, complete in-game challenges, and see some very unique laning decisions all to earn moonbucks, explained here:
With all teams agreeing to give their prize money from the tournament to charity in a surprised show of unity, we saw some of the most entertaining Dota 2 played in recent memory. Team Liquid took full advantage of the tournament to enjoy themselves; fully randoming their team composition and swapping lanes and roles on a whim. Due to this tournament, we were able to see a mid GH Shadow Fiend, an offlane Pangolier played by KuroKy, and a support duo of Miracle- and MinD_ContRoL. While Team Liquid was drastically veering off the beaten path with their “drafts” and who was playing which hero, they continued to win their games. Team Liquid went through the group stage 2-0’ing Na`Vi, OG, and Mid or Feed to secure their spot in the EU finals with the most moonbucks in the bank. Contrary to Liquid, Na`Vi had to spend most of their moonbucks to make it to the finals which gave Liquid an enormous advantage. Na`Vi was forced to random some of their heroes in each game, but still gained first blood in the series. Liquid carefully drafted their lineup — while still switching roles — and countered Na`Vi’s desperate lineups in order to comfortably win the finals 3-1.
On the North American side of the tournament, EG and VGJ.Storm each made it out of the group coming 2nd and 3rd — which meant they would have to play each other to see who would face OpTic in the finals. The randoms were out in full force during this series with all 10 heroes being randomed in the second game; EG’s first random resulting in a techies. VGJ.Storm took the series 2-0 and went up against OpTic in the finals where they went the distance but ultimately fell short as OpTic Gaming won the NA Midas Mode 3-2. Team Liquid and OpTic had the opportunity to face one another in a winner-take-all cross-region Grand Final, but in the spirit of giving back, both teams did not want to risk losing the opportunity to donate to their charity of choice.
It’s official! Season 4 of the Esports Championship Series has come to an end after eight long weeks, and the playoffs will be upon us before we know it! The offline portion of the event sends our teams out to sunny Cancun, Mexico in the middle of December, but before we head out there in a few weeks, let’s take a look at where the teams stand prior to Season 4’s playoff entrance.
In North America, Cloud 9 sit in first place with an overall record of 15-3, boasting a total of 45 points. Optic Gaming managed a solid second place seed with a record of 12-6, holding 36 points under their belt. Meanwhile, Team Liquid and Luminosity held down the 3rd and 4th seeds respectively, both owning a 11-7 record and 33 total points.
Liquid’s season long inconsistency troubles haunted them yet again in week 8, drawing both series matchups against Ghost and Cloud 9. The most notable match of the week was Liquid’s first map on Mirage, which ended in a 19-15 Cloud 9 win in overtime. It was a classic North American showdown, providing fans with one of the most entertaining matches of the season.
If there is one team that impressed throughout the season and amassed a record to be proud of, it has to be Fnatic. In a period where the Swedish scene attempts to rebuild itself, the black and yellow jerseys topped the charts in both major leagues, with a rather unmatched consistency in an environment that’s known to be volatile. In their last matches of the season, Fnatic successively traded maps with G2 and Mousesports, and ended their ECS season with a 2-0 against Virtus.pro to retain their top spot in the league. Worth noting is their match against the Frenchmen of G2, where they still managed to put up a fight and grab a map despite connectivity issues that saw their coach, Jumpy, fill the shoes of flusha who was unable to play. What looked like a contested match could have been vastly different under normal circumstances and optimal playing conditions for the team.
Amongst the other teams, two will proceed to relegation matches where they will have to fend off challengers climbing from the Development League of ECS to keep their spot in in the highest tier. Fortunately for EnVyUs, this won’t be their fate. Despite a couple unsuccessful last matches, Happy and co. made the cut thanks to earlier wins in the season and will be part of the next iteration. They will be able to continue their work as they try to regain their confidence as a team, that, in Happy’s own words, “is doubting itself a lot”. Not having to deal with the hassle of relegation will certainly be a welcome situation in that context, and will not be another source of weariness for the squad.
With just a tad over two weeks to go until the start of the Season 4 playoffs, teams across North America and Europe will have plenty time to polish gameplay, solidify team chemistry, and ensure they are prepared to fight for the overall prize pool of $750,000, and the right to call themselves ECS champions.
This weekend, the World Electronic Sports Games held its Europe Finals in Barcelona, Spain, and it was the occasion to watch some pretty unusual teams, as the nationality rules forced international rosters to change players or outright skip the tournament.
EnVyUs decided to take part in the tournament and thus had to find a stand-in for ScreaM, who himself participated with fellow Belgian players as Team Belgium. In a funny twist of events, his replacement was none other than kioShiMa, who once was on the EnVyUs roster a few years ago. The boys in blue qualified for the regional finals and landed in a tough group which featured some of the strongest mixes in the tournament: Team Belgium and Team Russia, as well as Virtus.pro, and the Hungarian underdogs, GameAgents.
After a swift win against the latter, EnVyUs had to face Team Belgium in their first serious encounter. In a nice collective effort spearheaded by xms, EnVyUs overcame the Belgians on Cobblestone, even in the face of ScreaM and YOUYOU’s best efforts. Their second match against Virtus.pro ended up with both teams scoring great T sides of their own, but unfolded as a draw, since overtimes were not played. The last opponents of EnVyUs’ group were the Russian mix, Team Russia, led by seized who fielded stars such as flamie and the recent Na’Vi acquisition, electronic. To EnVyUs’ benefit, these stars didn’t really show up in this game and EnVy took the opportunity to score yet another win, netting them first place in the group with three wins and a draw. This not only sent them to the quarterfinals, but also granted the team a spot for the world finals in China that will be played in March of 2018. In bracket play, sadly, EnVy faced the team that’s become their nemesis this year, Space Soldiers. And once again, the Turks prevailed, ending EnVy’s run in the quarters.
Parallel to that, Fnatic also participated in the WESG after placing second at the Swedish qualifier. Even though their group looked easier than EnVy’s, it proved to be a tricky one for Fnatic. Things started smoothly with quick wins over Resistance and Fragsters, against which Fnatic were favored. Then followed a match against Limitless, a team from the French scene. Things went south quite quickly as Limitless racked up round after round in a shocking first side that was quite unexpected from them. Fnatic managed to start a comeback, but after a couple of rounds won, Limitless slowly got back on their feet and edged out the Swedes to complete one of the big upsets in the tournament. The last match in the group pitted Fnatic against the rising Polish team AGO, who proved too tough an opponent. Still, Fnatic had scored enough wins to book their spot for the finals, as well as a chance to keep going in the bracket phase.
Their quarterfinals presented them with an opportunity to take revenge on AGO, and that they did, with a dominating performance on Train and an overtime victory on Mirage. This allowed them to proceed further and meet Team Ukraine, yet another strong mix, led by Zeus and Ukrainian superstar s1mple. Under the lead of their experienced captain and with their full firepower available, the Ukranians sent Fnatic to the third place decider match, and then proceeded to win the tournament against GODSENT. In the bronze match, Fnatic couldn’t overcome Space Soldiers, and had to settle for fourth place.
Overall, objectives met for EnVyUs and Fnatic as they still managed to qualify for the Main Event, to take place in China next March.