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Photos of Natus Vincere CSGO at ESL Proleague Season 7 Finals in Dallas, Texas
NEWS

Monster Gaming Weekly

May 232018

Our teams represented us on 4 different continents over the past two weeks, visiting Asia (Thailand, China), Oceania (Australia), Europe (Germany, France) and North America (Canada, USA). Hbox was once again a source of pride with a win at Get On My Level, and Armada kept pace with a win in Melbourne. Finally, VGJ.Storm won a Dota Minor in Thailand in convincing fashion.

CS:GO

 

The 7th season of ESL Pro League has finally come to a close, and for those who missed the offline finals which occured last week, the now customary double elimination groups featured in ESL tournaments gave us quite the spectacle. Two of the larger stories to come out of last week were the glorious runs that Team Liquid and Na’Vi put up. From start to finish, both teams proved their worthiness over all challengers that stood in their way.

Na’Vi plowed through the Group A team pool with absolute ease, and even managed a 2-0 series victory over the star-studded FaZe, guaranteeing themselves the right to land immediately in the semifinals. In the other group, the Americans of Team Liquid were looking to improve on their early exit at DreamHack Masters Marseille. Opening with a straight shoot through Grayhound and Space Soldiers, they ended up in the group’s winner final, with a spot in the playoffs secured. Unfortunately, Nick “nitr0” Cannella and his men were unable to net themselves a direct semifinal spot as they were handed a pretty severe defeat by Astralis.

Thus, they continued their run from the quarterfinals, where Mousesports would be their second real test after Astralis, but the european mixture wasn’t able to replicate the danes’ feat and fell to Liquid in two maps, a nailbiter double overtime game on Mirage, followed by a one-sided Dust2. Marching on, TL’s next challenge turned out to be Na’Vi themselves who were eager to prove that they deserved another final appearance. Starting off on Dust2, Team Liquid proved once again that the map was one of their strong suit, closing it 16-14 against Na’Vi. On Inferno, TACO and Co. bested the CIS powerhouse once again, and thus earned a final appearance, against the final boss of Counter-Strike, Astralis again.

David versus Goliath. The best North American team versus the best team in the world. No matter how you look at it, the chances were very slim for Team Liquid heading into this grand final. Astralis had been showcasing an otherworldly level of play, and seemed untouchable. The norwegian star Håvard “rain” Nygaard was so confident, he bet eating a cigarette if it would not turn out to be a 3-0 in favor of the danes.

Was it to spite him? Or simply because Team Liquid was still amongst the rare teams that took maps off Astralis recently? The fact remains that he ate that cigarette, as the danes couldn’t close it in three games. Liquid pulled the unthinkable and made Astralis bleed, as they snatched Mirage 16-14. Excluding a 16-1 blowout on Dust2, they even could afford the luxury of making the other maps close, especially Nuke, on which Astralis had been indecently good lately. A silver medal in the end, but which spells a bright future for this iteration of Team Liquid.

Dota 2

 

GESC: Thailand Minor

 

VGJ.Storm tried out their new roster at the GESC: Thailand Minor, and suffice to say it was successful. They brought in the Ukrainian powerhouse Resolut1on to replace Timado, but even with that change not many people were expecting much out of the North American team. The front runners of the event were seen as Fnatic, Team Secret, and EG — and the group stage went nearly as expected. Fnatic was undefeated (7-0), while EG finished 3rd at 5-2. VGJ.Storm made it through the group stage at a reasonable 4-3, but in the playoffs it became clear they understood something the other teams didn’t. VGJ.Storm went through The Final Tribe (2-1) and Fnatic (2-0) to reach the finals before swiftly beating Keen Gaming 2-0 to claim a win at the Minor. The way they did it was domineering, with volatile drafts that left the other teams in their dust quickly as the games began. The question suddenly became “could they keep it up?”, instead of “could they do it?” With the MDL Major right around the corner that question would soon be answered.

 

For Fnatic the Thailand Minor was a partial success. Their 7-0 group stage showed they could win against every team present and their 3rd/4th finish brought them some much needed points as the season comes to a close. The upcoming ESL One Birmingham will be the last place Fnatic can secure an invite to TI8 but the points gained in Thailand means they only need a 3rd place finish to do it, instead of a spot in the grand finals.

 

MDL Changsha Major

 

Hot off their win in Thailand, VGJ.Storm went to work again in Changsha, China. With them in their group was Vici Gaming, who ended up being their only 2-0 loss during the group stage. Vici Gaming and VGJ.Storm ended up running wild, claiming 1st and 2nd place in their group, which put both of them in the upper bracket to start the main event. VGJ.Storm took down OG before facing up against Team Secret, who had won the other group. They showed some signs of struggle but came out victorious 2-1 with an incredible performance from Reso’s Slark and MSS’ Io. On the other side of the bracket Vici Gaming beat the SEA favourites Mineski in a similarly close 2-1 series. LaNm’s Io also played a critical role in both of the games that Vici Gaming won.

 

With that the two teams faced each other in the upper bracket finals but VGJ.Storm had seen through the support Tidehunter LaNm had unveiled for the tournament, and after beating it twice they found themselves in back-to-back grand finals. While both teams would go on to fall to PSG.LGD, the tournament was a great success for both Vici Gaming squads. For VGJ.Storm they seem to have picked up steam at just the right moment as they prepare for the gruelling TI8 qualifiers. For Vici Gaming, their 3rd place finish has all but secured their TI8 invite as they sit in 6th place overall with only two more tournaments left in the season. More importantly they too look strong as they head into the final stretch towards TI, an important sign that both will do well in Vancouver.

 

Street Fighter

 

As the Capcom Pro Tour (CPT) marches forward we saw an action packed weekend highlighting two regions often left out of the glitz and glamour — Australia and Europe. Competitors had to decide where to take their fight and we had Monsters performing at both: Australia’s Battle Arena Melbourne (BAM) and France’s Stunfest.

 

Battle Arena Melbourne 10

 

Fan favorite and Monster Gaming’s RAZER Ho “Xian” Kun Xian brought his technical and methodical Ibuki to the land down under. While many sponsored players attended the Stunfest premiere, there was no shortage of dangerous opponents for Xian to battle at BAM.

 

Xian qualified for Top 8 on winners’ side and first dispatched Arubi “RB” Kao, who is known for his erratic Urien but decided to go full throttle and showcase Abigail. Xian’s solid play made quick work (3-1) of RB to setup a winners’ final vs the demon, Echo Fox Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi where Xian fell (0-3). Heading into losers, Xian delivered in an intense set with Hyungsuk ‘Verloren’ Kong’s oppressive Cammy, winning (3-2).

 

The runback with Tokido was secured and while Xian was able to take a game (1-3), Tokido proved to be insurmountable. Xian placed 2nd and acquired valuable CPT points heading into the busy summer schedule.

 

Stunfest 2018

 

While Xian battled in Australia, Europe hosted its first CPT premiere event at Stunfest in Rennes, France. As a premiere, Stunfest attracted the highest level of global talent and through it all, we had 2 players qualify for Sunday’s final bracket.

 

First up, Fnatic’s Christ ‘Akainu’ Onema delivered a breakout performance. Akainu, who has become a familiar face through the Gfinity esports series, placed 5th — his personal best for a CPT event. He was also the sole European representative in top 8.

 

Panda Global and Monster star Seonwoo ‘Infiltration’ Lee found himself at the finish line of another CPT premiere after beating Daigo Umehara (3-2) in winners’ finals in an extremely close Menat vs Guile set.

 

In the end, Infiltration met a force that was simply overwhelming. Fudoh’s Fujimura ‘Fujimura’ Atsuhsi, and his expertly prepared Ibuki came from losers’ side to reset the grand finals in a speed run-esque performance, defeating Infiltration with a 3-0 reset and a 3-0 final series. Fujimura put together one of the most impressive runs in SFV history at Stunfest and finished with an exclamation point with his grand finals performance.

 

While our players would have loved to take home the big prize, the next tournament is right around the corner. Next weekend the CPT grinds forward with the much anticipated premiere event, Combo Breaker 2018.

 

Smash

 

It was also a successful weekend for our Smash players this weekend, with the aforementioned BAM playing host to Alliance’s Armada and Team Liquid’s ChuDat in their Smash tournament. Armada came away with a leisurely win while ChuDat came in second above the local competition. ChuDat partnered with local lad Noxus to earn top honors in Doubles ahead of an Armada’s Aussie duo.

 

Over in Canada, Get On My Level 2018 concluded with another victory for Team Liquid’s Hungrybox. He dominated the field, with only Plup standing firm. After being knocked down from the winners’ final, Hbox defeated Axe in order to earn a rematch in the grand finals. Plup had the momentum and the crowd on his side, but Hbox sent the grand finals to a deciding set with a 3-2 win. With the GOML ring on the line, Clutchbox once again showed that he had that extra gear in grand finals and trumped Plup 3-1 to win the tournament.

 

League of Legends

 

This year’s MSI was full of surprises. From numerous upsets to champion picks so unpredictable their replication destroyed many a person’s LP in solo queue, the action was relentless. Though two Monster squads attended MSI this year, both were sadly eliminated without claiming the title.

 

With their rough, 0-4 start it looked nearly impossible for Team Liquid to qualify for the semi-finals. Finding their groove again mid tournament Team Liquid moved their way up in the standings to tie Fnatic for 4th place. Tasting the blood in the water they ran full speed towards a miracle run. Despite their improvements, however, Team Liquid ultimately failed to qualify for the semi-finals after losing the tie breaker match against Fnatic.

 

Fnatic, however, had a slightly better time at MSI. After an uneven first day, Fnatic secured themselves a spot in the middle of the pack early on and performed well enough to stay in 4th place through to semi-finals. From start to finish Fnatic’s semi-finals series against RNG was ludicrously high octane. Clocking a total of 43 kills, game 1 of this series was the bloodiest game of MSI. Following that, the 47-minute slugfest that was game 3 holds the record as the longest game of MSI 2018. Even though RNG would eventually secure the series — and eventually, the title — it was one of the closest 3-0’s in the history of MSI.

 

Though eliminated, both squads performed some astounding feats. Team Liquid’s Doublelift had the highest damage percentage at MSI at 40.1% while Xmithie was had the highest Kill Participation in group stage at 83.8%. Fnatic’s Rekkles claimed the only pentakill of MSI 2018 in Fnatic’s game 3 loss against RNG. Baron steals were also quite popular with the LCS squads. Xmithie lived up to his name by stealing a Baron against RNG, while Broxah stole 2 barons in a single game against Flash Wolves.

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