In June the most important qualifier of the year took place for Fnatic and Evil Geniuses. The International’s regional qualifiers have always been a marathon of non-stop cutthroat competition where a single error could cost a team their chance to play at the tournament every player sets their sights on. With little time to prepare for opponents between matches, upsets are frequent and stories of underdogs usurping teams at the last moment can be told every year. Due to the volatility of the qualifiers it is amazing that both of our teams made it through their respective qualifiers and will be playing in Vancouver at TI8 come August.
While they all made it to The International, the way they achieved their goals could not have been more different for each team. In the North American qualifier, EG was fighting for two of the three available slots. EG had a rough group stage with VGJ.Storm claiming the top spot, going 6-1 and then 2-0 in the tiebreaker, and earning their invitation without having the play in the playoff stage. EG went on to easily secure the 2nd spot through the playoffs, brushing aside coL and Immortals 2-0 in a highly competitive region.
In SEA, Fnatic were going in as the strong favorites to win the qualifier and take one of the two available spots. However, after the group stage it was clear that the top 4 teams all had a chance at finishing in the top 2. Fnatic put the group stage behind them and after making it to the winners’ bracket finals, won a 69-minute-long game against TNC which helped them secure a 2-0 victory and punched their ticket for Vancouver. With the first hurdle cleared, these four teams now need to prepare to take on the world’s best teams in Vancouver, Canada at the richest tournament in esports.
Hungrybox and CEO titles — name a more iconic duo. The 4-time champion romped to Daytona Beach to defend his crown… and now he’s a 5-time CEO champion after taking his third CEO in a row!
As we’ve come to expect, Hbox breezed through pools and the winners bracket with stocks to spare, which booked a heavyweight match against Panda Global’s Plup. The much-anticipated bout was largely one-sided, however, with Hbox taking the series by its horns — including a 3-stock win on Battlefield. Plup tried his best to make it close, but Hbox left his opponent seeing stars after coming into the ring to Smash Mouth’s “All Star”.
In the losers final, Plup made amends by dispatching M2K in a Shiek mirror. A desperate switch to Marth in game 4 proved fruitless for the Echo Fox Smasher, and Plup earned himself a rematch for the championship belt.
After a close loss on Battlefield, Plup decided that this time, there would be no repeat of the winners final. Switching from Fox to Shiek, Plup proceeded to make the runback a reality, turning heads with a close set 1 victory to reset the grand finals. With step 1 accomplished, it looked like Plup had the momentum, but Hbox had other things in mind.
With the title on the line, Hungrybox entered the final set of the tournament with an adjustment — Plup had been able to punish Puff’s crouches with a mix of clever movement and patience, and Hbox was quickly able to identify his mistakes. The second set of the grand finals hinged on his micro-changes against Shiek, and it turned into a stomp. Plup was no longer able to capitalize, and Hungrybox turned the tables to sweep Shiek away in a 3-0 rout. The venue may have gotten bigger, but the result was all the same: Hungrybox, your CEO champion.
Street Fighter V
As the fighting game community continues to grow, venues just get bigger and bigger. CEO outgrew its old stomping grounds and headed to Daytona Beach. Over 7,000 attendees enjoyed last weekend's festivities but two Monsters nearly stole the show.
Razer’s Xian and Panda Global’s Infiltration are hitting their strides as both found themselves in yet another major top 8 just a month removed from Combo Breaker where they finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
At CEO, both qualified for the Sunday finals on losers’ side and had success early on. Xian was able to use his finely tuned Ibuki to mix-up former Capcom Cup champion NuckleDu’s Guile 3-2. For his part, Infiltration utilized his new “anti-Cammy” pick, Chun-Li, to eliminate rising star and fellow Korean, Fursan’s Verloren, 3-2.
Unfortunately both would meet their demise in losers round 4, when Xian lost a heartbreaker to the old guard, FAV-gaming’s Sako and his Menat. On the other end of the bracket, Infiltration got dunked by Norway's NVD-Phenom and his hyper aggressive Necalli. Phenom’s jump timing and brave command grabs were too much to handle and Sako’s intelligent v-trigger usage edged out a close victory.
In the end, Infiltration and Xian tied for 5th, an impressive finish to one of the hardest tournaments of the year and a good primer heading into next month's juggernaut, EVO 2018. With another premiere top 8 appearance for these superstars, Infiltration’s 5th and Xian’s 2nd of the season, they’ve all but solidified themselves for the Capcom Cup finale. As these points have been tallied, Infiltration is now 2nd and Xian is 7th on the Pro Tour rankings, so expect to see both in attendance for Capcom Cup 2018.
If you’re eager to see more of Infiltration, we encourage you to watch this clip of his ring entrance. We promise you’ll see a side of Infiltration you have never seen before. We may be bias, but this was the best entrance of the weekend, FREE.
15 rounds; 1 winner. The PUBG Global Invitational held its European Qualifier LAN Finals in Leicester over the weekend in order to determine who Europe would send to the $2,000,000 main event. After 3 grueling days of battleground mayhem, Team Liquid reigned supreme as the best team in Europe. Behind them, Ex-Kinguin squad Welcome to South George, and Europe-by-player-residency Pittsburgh Knights earned their qualifying spots.
After months of setting the pace as one of the best teams in the region, Team Liquid arrived in Leicester as one of the teams tipped to qualify. However, FaZe was still considered the top dog in Europe, with a rivalry slowly developing between the two squads of four.
Day 1 began in Liquid’s favor with 2 Chicken Dinners to start the tournament. The boys in blue have seemingly developed a pattern: start strong, continue well, but fade over the course of the weekend. In first place after the first round of games, the prophecy was once again set up to occur. Despite a big lead at the end of Day 1, the team still had all to do to make sure that they kept pace with the likes of Rogue nipping at their heels.
Day 2, as predicted, had a few bumps. A dramatic 20th place in round 9 was shocking, to say the least, suggesting that the decline was about to come. Fortunately, Scoom and Co rallied to end the day with a runner up spot to keep a modest lead.
The final day began with another favorable top 2 finish. On paper, it looked likely that Team Liquid would qualify for PGI, but a familiar foe was beginning their rise in the rankings. FaZe claimed their first Chicken Dinner in round 11 to give them a massive boost, but Welcome to South George and Pittsburgh Knights seized the throne with a chicken dinner each in rounds 12 and 13 respectively. Liquid had capitulated in round 12 to surrender their lead, and the tournament hinged on the final 2 rounds.
After spending most of the tournament as #1, Liquid entered round 15 with a possibility of not even qualifying. A strong outing from FaZe threatened to oust Liquid from top 3, but the squad held firm when it counted. A favorable drop gave Liquid their home base in Yasnaya, but a first circle all the way to the south west meant a long rotation. That’s exactly what the foursome had in mind — they hopped into their vehicles and drove all the way to the shoreline to become one of the westernmost teams in the circle. As the map shrunk, Quarry became the site of the final battle, and Liquid took positions at the radio station — high ground secured.
As the number of players dwindled, Liquid stayed silent until a big flurry with only 25 players remaining. 9 kills in crunch time, including crucial ones against WTSG, secured the team a final chicken dinner to end the tournament. Yet would that be enough? After a long delay waiting for the final tally, the result was in: Team Liquid, champions of Europe.