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General ambient photos at ESL ONE Birmingham, in England

Monster Gaming Weekly

Jun 072018

The past two weeks were once again filled with non-stop esports, with huge tournaments in CS:GO, Dota 2, Smash, and a DreamHack to boot. Monster teams earned more than a few gold medals, and we’re here to give you the scoop.



StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 5


The capital city of CS:GO was the theater of yet another event this weekend, as StarLadder held their fifth season of StarSeries in Kiev, Ukraine. A couple of top teams skipped the event to get some much needed rest and practice — including Astralis and FaZe. With some of the best in the world sitting out, it was an opportunity for the next in line to snatch a trophy in their absence.


An easier road does not necessarily mean an easy one though. In the continuity of StarSeries Season 4, the grueling Bo3 swiss round made its return. On top of that, several dangerous underdogs — just like the last swiss tournament — arrived with determination and their A game. As it happened, AGO Gaming, the rising Polish team, shocked everyone by going 3-0 in the group stage. Na’Vi themselves lost a map to one of the underdogs from Asia, TyLoo, in that trend. They were still able to secure a playoffs spot, only dropping a match to Mousesports along the way.


Team Liquid had their own run firmly in control, beating NRG, GODSENT and Avangar to book their playoffs spot, only losing once to SK Gaming in the process. But things went awry when they faced NRG in the quarterfinals. It looked like a comfortable rematch against a team they had faced in the group stage, and even more so as they opened up with a victory on Inferno. Instead, NRG replied back with two solid map wins on Nuke and Train, knocking out Liquid in the quarters — yet another upset in this StarSeries event.


On the other side of the bracket, Na’Vi had landed in a tough pool of opponents, with SK, Mousesports and NiP completing their side of the quarterfinals. Their first series against SK ignited right from the start as it looked like the map had turned into a duel between coldzera in his best form, and S1mple as dominant as usual. After the map had been extended with two overtimes, SK finally closed it and opened the score, but Na’Vi would bounce back immediately and dismantle them on the two remaining maps. Their semifinals started once again with a loss on Inferno, against Mousesports, but the European team wasn’t able to replicate their success in the group stage and in the finals of the previous StarSeries Season, and fell to Na’Vi. Their grand final opponent was none other than NRG, who had put on an excellent run for just the team’s third big LAN appearance. Despite their excellent form, they weren’t able to match the firepower and teamplay of Na’Vi, and had to bow down in two quick maps against the CIS giants. 


It would be easy to dismiss the finals as an easy one for Na’Vi, but NRG had an impressive performance, having taken down big names on their own side of the bracket. In addition to that, Na’Vi’s path to the finals was actually laden with strong adversaries: Mousesports, SK, then Mousesports again. They fought with their hearts out to win the StarLadder trophy, their first in 2018, and on home soil. 





Dota 2


ESL One Birmingham


The run-up to TI has been fraught with danger for the teams near the bottom of the top 8 of DPC points, and several teams attended the British major with hopes of locking in their spot. With Team Liquid already invited to defend their crown at TI 8, Fnatic, EG, Vici Gaming, and paiN Gaming had much to do to earn their trip to Vancouver.


With only prize money and pride on the line, Liquid experienced the shock of the tournament after being knocked out by paiN Gaming in the group stages. It was the first time that Liquid had failed to reach the playoffs for as long as anyone can remember, and paiN Gaming showed that the addition of w33 was a calculated risk that was beginning to pay off. paiN rode their momentum to a 3rd place finish, but it was only enough to put the Brazilian team on the board. They currently look like the hottest team in South America and could qualify for TI regardless.


Fnatic had a clearer objective: win and go to TI. Unfortunately for the SEA squad, OpTic Gaming trumped them in the semi finals to relegate them to the 3rd place match. With only a win mattering, Fnatic then lost to paiN Gaming for their consolation prize. This was their last tournament of the season before The International, and they will have to run the gauntlet of TI qualifiers.


Vici Gaming, despite exiting the tournament without a map win, still had good news. With no team making ground in the DPC, their chances of qualifying automatically for TI shot up close to certainty. EG, on the other hand, had less to cheer about as they also scored 0-3 in maps during the tournament for an early exit and wound up announcing a roster change, meaning that they would have to fight from the open qualifiers.


Street Fighter


Combo Breaker


We had quite the showing at Combo Breaker in Chicago, Illinois with three of the top 4 finishers sporting the M-claw on their way through a grueling weekend of Street Fighter. While Nemo, Xian, and Infiltration would start their Top 24 in the upper bracket, Xian and Infiltration had an unfortunate early meeting in winners’. This forced Infiltration into completing an epic losers’ run which saw him beating Tokido and Bonchan — both respectable opponents. He would eventually face off against Nemo in Top 4, who had his own lower bracket run racing through top players such as Monster alum, NuckleDu. Meanwhile, Xian’s winners’ bracket run came to an end at the hands of NL’s Cammy in winners’ finals and suddenly, the Monster family was forced to knock one another out one-by-one in the Top 4.


Infiltration triumphed over Nemo in a quick 3-0, handing Nemo a 4th place medal and forcing a rematch with Xian. The set between Infiltration and Xian was considered one of the best of the entire tournament and went the distance, but Infiltration would not get his revenge, losing 2-3 and earning himself a respectable bronze medal. Xian’s Ibuki had another chance at taking down NL, but couldn’t force the bracket reset in another nail-biting 2-3 game, with the Korean Cammy player taking his first Capcom Premier Event.




Two big tournaments enthralled the Smash community this past weekend, with stops in both Austin and Wisconsin. Over at DreamHack, the local field crowned Plup champion, but it was team-less Ice Climbers player Bananas that earned plaudits. A rare high-level Ice Climber mirror matchup in the losers’ final was one of the highlights of the tournament, with Team Liquid’s ChuDat bowing out after a close 2-3 defeat.


Over at the Wisconsin Dells, Melee’s El Clasico occurred in the grand finals as Armada and Hungrybox once again teed off to decide the champion. There were more than a few exciting bumps along the way, however.


One big story for the weekend was Leffen’s ‘return’ to Melee from DBFZ, and he defeated compatriot Armada in winners round 4, dropping the Alliance Smasher to the lower bracket. In the other bracket, Hungrybox swept all in front of him to advance to the winners’ final for a date against Leffen. The two giants swapped stages back and forth in an intense match, but in the end Hungrybox prevailed to reach another premiere tournament final.


In the lower bracket, Swedish Monster Armada had all to do, but he swept aside Zain and Mew2King to earn a rematch against Leffen. A Peach switch on Final Destination was the highlight of a pixel perfect match that was much closer than the 3-1 score, setting up the biggest match in Smash for the finals.


After a rough year so far, Armada returned to his godlike form. The Smash ‘N’ Splash 4 final was the most one-sided Armada vs Hungrybox finals in ages, and Armada blew away the Puff with stocks to spare. This was Armada’s first big title since his EVO 2017 win — which was 11 months ago! Leading into the summer, Armada seems to have rediscovered his form.





StarCraft II


Team Liquid’s MaNa experienced a renaissance of form at DreamHack Austin, defeating the likes of uThermal, Neeb, Snute and SpeCial to earn a spot in the grand finals. After two unfortunate teamkills in the tournament, MaNa upheld Team Liquid’s honor by producing the best series of the tournament in his bout against SpeCial. His Disruptor control, in particular, reflected his intelligent and patient strategy, and he defeated the Mexican Terran in a clinical 3-1. MaNa’s sweep of Neeb — arguably one of the best ‘foreigners’ in StarCraft II — during the first round of the playoffs set him up for momentum that would eventually crash into the other best foreigner in the world, Serral.


In the final, MaNa knocked over the Zerg with two impressive wins on 16-Bit and Dreamcatcher, putting the entire crowd on edge. The underdog Protoss came close, but Serral closed things out by winning 3 straight games to claim the 4-2. It was overall a positive tournament for MaNa, and it catapults him into the top 8 of the WCS pro circuit.





Rainbow Six: Siege


Evil Geniuses once again proved that they are the cream of the crop in North American Rainbow Six: Siege, though they were unable to defend home soil at DreamHack Austin. EG recovered from a shock loss against BYOC team Disrupt Gaming to advance from their group by defeating Mock-it Esports and Motiv8 Gaming. 2-0s against Vitality and Disrupt in a rematch put EG in the finals against the Europeans of Millenium, setting up a high profile clash for the crown. The boys in blue claimed Clubhouse with a crisp 5-3 win and looked poised to take the tournament, but Millenium turned things around with clutch performances on both Kafe Dostoyevsky and Border to secure both maps in overtime. Two close ace round defeats meant that EG would have to wait for their first big tournament win.