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action at the Epicenter XL Dota 2 event in Moscow

Monster Gaming Weekly

May 102018

The past two weeks have been eventful for Monster teams with several high profile tournaments on the schedule. We made stops in France, Australia and Russia and earned two silver medals along the way.


DreamHack Masters: Marseille


After a period of relative uncertainty, DreamHack Masters: Marseille answered many questions about the world’s top teams and the rather peculiar player transfers that took place during the months of March and April. While one tournament is certainly not enough to shape a whole ranking by itself, this DreamHack Masters helped reshuffle the cards for the highest tier of Counter-Strike.


The group stage went mostly as expected, with a few key surprises. While Na’Vi and Fnatic dominated Group C, SK’s struggles continued in Group B as NiP and mouz advanced ahead of the Brazilians. Team EnVyUs won their local derby against G2, yet could not stand up against the might of FaZe in Group A. Team Liquid also came close to making it out of their group, if not for a loss to the eventual tournament winners, Astralis. In the final group, Gambit advanced to the playoffs by knocking out Team Liquid in a very close 2-1 series.


It seemed that most of the group stage and playoffs was simply a background, a canvas, on which one could see, match after match, the outlines of the grand final slowly drawing themselves clearer — Astralis and Na’Vi flew above the rest of the competition. As soon as Na’Vi had dispatched of mousesports, a strong contender to take it all, and Astralis had removed FaZe from the tournament, it was pretty much certain that these two teams would conclude the show. 


Coming from one side of the bracket were the Danes of Astralis. Throughout the tournament, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander’s men played a blend of CS that showcased perfect coordination and teamplay, which often featured amazing individual performances from each player on the team in turns. Getting to the finals by dropping a single map, to Team Liquid in their group winner’s match, Astralis proved to be a resolute, well structured, and simply scary team up until the finals. There, they would meet the CIS powerhouse, Na’Vi, who were also fresh off a nearly perfect run, only collecting a single scratch against Fnatic on Cobblestone. The boys in yellow only had to break a sweat once against Mouz on Inferno in overtime, but other than that pierced through each opponent in pretty convincing fashion S1mple was the tip of their lance, seconded by electroNic who played one of his best tournament as of yet. 


Unfortunately for Na’Vi, the final started in a very rough way, as Astralis dominated on Nuke and only left them with a meager four rounds at the end of the first game. Inferno was more contested, and Na’Vi nearly broke Astralis’ economy in the later rounds, but couldn’t succeed in the end. Forced to bow down with a 0-2 scoreline, they left the stage as the Danes lifted the trophy in Marseille.


As crushing as this may have been to come so close, it wasn’t doom and gloom in the end for Na’Vi. This was still a strong run that added yet another final appearance to their resume, not long after their StarLadder StarSeries Season 4 second place. Just like at StarLadder, s1mple earned another MVP award after one of his best performances career-wise, despite being on the team that lost the final again. The tournament was yet another testimony to his otherworldly skill and determination.


IEM Sydney


The CS:GO scene took a trip to Sydney, Australia, during the first week of May for another stop on the Intel Extreme Masters circuit. Extended from eight to sixteen teams, the lineup was quite locally flavored as seven teams—eight if you count Renegades—hailed from South-East Asia and Oceania. Simply put, this tournament smashed any expectations that fans could have as it unfolded. But again, where better than Australia to turn the scene on its head?


The tournament used the same format introduced in IEM Katowice, and one could have expected that the massive underdogs that littered the field could only score a Bo1 upset at best. So when TyLoo kicked SK Gaming down to the lower bracket, eyebrows were raised, but nothing more. When Grayhound Gaming, a local Aussie team mostly unknown to the general public, kicked Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and his men out of the tournament, and snatched a map from FaZe, madness had truly kicked in. In no particular order, this tournament also saw TyLoo reach the semifinals, Renegades beat FaZe 2-1, and the team’s American star Noah “Nifty” Francis end up with a 51-28 score on a single map. The tournament also created a brand new Aussie star in DickStacy.


As they navigated these dangerous waters in Sydney, Fnatic managed to escape mostly unscathed from their group. Unlike other top teams, they didn’t sweat against the local threats, and resoundingly crushed Chiefs ESC in their opening match. They followed with a victory against G2 Esports, to whom they still had to concede the first map. With their spot in the bracket secured, they only lost their last match in the group to Astralis, who were considered the best team in the world as IEM began.


They landed in the quarterfinals against a familiar opponent, FaZe Clan. The recent track record of their encounters, combined with FaZe’s wobbly form at the tournament, made it look like the odds were in favor of Fnatic. However, even when underperforming, Finn “karrigan” Andersen and Co. remain a tough nut to crack. The Swedes could not find an edge in the series, despite Mirage going the full regulation time. They were shut down in the final round by a dominant NiKo-rain duo that unfortunately ended Fnatic’s run.


FaZe then went on to defeat Astralis in a close grand final in front of one of the most amazing crowds in esports history.


Dota 2


Epicenter XL had a large impact on some of our teams attending the Major. Team Liquid has secured their invite to TI8 after finishing 2nd, making them the 2nd team to be mathematically earn a trip to Vancouver in August. Na`Vi took down Team Secret and Virtus Pro in the best-of-three group stage to surpassing expectations, while Pain Gaming triumphed over Newbee to advance from their group in a thrilling 2-0 upset. 


Team Liquid’s path to the finals almost seemed inevitable during the group stage where they were the only team at the tournament to go undefeated. Not only that, Miracle was playing on another level. His combined 51-0-25 across his three Morphling games would have raised eyebrows if it were not expected of him. While Liquid narrowly missed out on claiming their 3rd consecutive Epicenter title, they showed that the team was still not slowing down heading into the run up of TI, despite KuroKy insistence that no team can play 100% all year. 


For Pain Gaming, this tournament was proof that they have what it takes to play against the best teams in the world. The addition of W33ha to their roster has shown potential and while it is likely they will have to go through qualifiers to get to TI8, they should have no trouble beating their fellow South American teams to get there.




Meanwhile, in SoCal some of the world’s best Super Smash Bros. Melee players gathered in the Beyond the Summit house for the 6th edition of Smash Summit. The event didn’t disappoint, but it did shock many of its viewers as several of the biggest names in the tournament dropped down to the Losers’ Bracket before the elimination bracket was even finished being drawn up.


The MIOM Ranked #1 player, Hungrybox, had an extremely rough day in his pool, dropping 2 of his 3 series — one to Yoshi player, aMSa, which featured a rare time finish. In the same pool, Swedish player, Armada, survived to go to Winners’ but faced defeat in the very first round of play, losing to the eventual Smash Summit 6 Champion, Mew2King. Both players would make an extremely strong run on opposite sides the Losers’ bracket until they met one another in the Losers’ Semi-Final.


Their matchup is always worthy of a Grand Final in-of-itself, but this particular meeting was especially emotional because Hbox broke Armada’s Summit win-streak in November of last year. The match did not disappoint and in traditional Hbox VS. Armada fashion, it came down to Game 5 on Battlefield. Last Summit, Hungrybox got the better of the Swede, but this time, it was Armada’s turn to take it. His celebration was short lived, however, as he still needed to take down the dark horse, PG.Zain and then head into the Grand Finals versus Mew2King. While he was able to pull out the win in the Doubles portion of the event (alongside his fellow countryman, Leffen), Armada’s grueling lower bracket run would end here. He was unfortunately unable to find his fifth Smash Summit trophy while M2K won his first ever major Melee tournament!