ESL ProLeague Finals Odense
After five days of explosive matches and a couple of unexpected results at the finals in Odense, Denmark, ESL Pro League has finally dropped the curtain on its sixth season with a new winner.
The same format from Seasons 4 and 5 was used, and thus the tournament kicked off with a round-robin best-of-one group stage in the first two days. Unfortunately for Fnatic and Team Liquid, they ended up in the same group and were thus poised to face off early in the competition. It started well for Team Liquid as the band managed to score yet another victory against Astralis, a team they have historically matched well against and have beaten multiple times recently. Though a tie would have to be resolved in overtime, this was still a strong start. Alas, this would be the only win that Liquid would be able to manager. Their run was put to a halt in the group stage at 1-4, after an assortment of very one sided games against HellRaisers and Luminosity, really close games against the heavy favorites FaZe, and another bout against Fnatic. Team Liquid walked out after a rather contrasted performance, including big hiccups against teams they were expected to win against, combined with close-but-no-cigar performances against stronger teams.
Fnatic fared better, and ended up placing well in their group with victories against Team Liquid and Luminosity, but more importantly against FaZe and Astralis. Golden and his men were able to maintain their composure in their game against FaZe, bringing it to overtime where they were able to seal the deal. They then crushed the Danes in a very impressive show of strength. At the end of the group stage, Fnatic had made it clear that they came here to replicate their dominating performance during the online portion of the league. However, a loss against HellRaisers meant that they sat in second place in their group, though they still booked a spot in the quarterfinals.
OpTic Gaming were their first opponents in the bracket, and quite a challenge in themselves. friberg’s lineup packed quite a punch in Group B, even more so as HS revealed himself to be a scary entry fragger during this tournament. To add to the challenge, it had been some time since Fnatic had played a best of three, and thus their map pool was largely untested. The series opened up on Inferno, and after trading the first dozen rounds, the Swedes slowly took the lead on the terrorist side with a 9-6 score at the half. Their CT half started with a bang as JW netted himself four kills to give Fnatic the second pistol round, and the following eco rounds. However, OpTic then woke up and began to put together a string of rounds in the second half, and eventually picked up the win right on the 30th round. The match then moved onto Train, where Fnatic started on an even better footing than on Inferno, with an excellent 11-4 CT side, completely shutting down OpTic’s aggression. Their advantage was pushed even further as they took the second pistol round again. OpTic managed to mount a small comeback to bring their score to double digits, but Fnatic closed it 16-10 to tie the series. The deciding game on Mirage started with the Swedes claiming the first three rounds, but then dove into a low economy situation as both teams struggled to establish a sturdy economy. Losing the first half 6-9, the Fnatic boys came in fired up in the second half and racked seven consecutive rounds. OpTic managed to close the gap as the game turned into a back and forth situation once more, but Fnatic would not be denied. Fnatic finally ended the game with an old, vintage, trademark Fnatic round with a weak buy somehow working out.
Fnatic marched on to the semifinals where one of the European favorites, FaZe, were waiting. As the sizable underdogs, Fnatic took up the gauntlet and opened the series by winning the first three rounds on Mirage. However, after trading rounds and pushing FaZe into an eco, Fnatic surrendered their advantage against nothing but a single deagle bought. From this point onwards, FaZe would not let go of their momentum and shut down Fnatic for pretty much the rest of the game. Despite Fnatic getting the first pick in many rounds, and playing smartly and efficiently off their numbers advantage, FaZe simply brute forced their way to victory thanks to individual plays from rain, NiKo, and GuardiaN. The second map started with a similar story, as Fnatic opened the score, before FaZe started racking up round after round. The half was saved however, as the Swedes stopped the round hemorrhage towards the end of their CT side. Heading into the second half with a balanced score of 7-8, Fnatic only garnered three more rounds after the intermission. The karrigan led lineup dominated the rest of the game and closed it 16-10.
With a fourth place finish, Fnatic have still confirmed that their excellent form online could translate into results offline. They accomplished a couple of great best-of-one wins against top teams, and a best-of-three win against OpTic Gaming. They showed that they had done their homework for their match against FaZe, but that was not enough to overcome the edge in individual skill that FaZe have touted in their current iteration.
The grand final saw FaZe go up against the Brazilians of SK Gaming, in a fan favorite matchup that promised to yield explosive games between the two powerhouse. After the dust had settled, it was FalleN and his men that emerged victorious, scoring one more point in the race for the title of the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team of 2017.
Marvel vs Capcom
Last weekend’s Playstation Experience hosted one of the most unique fighting game tournaments ever with the Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite: Battle For the Stones event. Capcom decided to mix up the normally stringent and competitive ruleset to host a creative and wildly fun tournament to celebrate the release of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite (MVCI). This tournament had a lot at stake, $30,000 and control of the cosmos through the coolest trophy ever — the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’.
The tournament was comprised of 16 players: 7 direct invites for former Evolution champions in the Marvel vs Capcom series, 6 winners of offline events throughout the year, and 3 winners of online qualifiers. What made this tournament so unique is that each of the offline event winners won a corresponding ‘Infinity Stone’ which according to Marvel lore are powerful stone artifacts that can be combined with the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ to rule the universe. If you were a stone holder, you were able to activate special abilities within the tournament which led to some chaotically fun moments. Here are the powers the stones granted:
Reality - Swap 3 buttons on your opponent's controller
Space - Swap your position in the bracket
Time - Negate any stone from being used against you
Mind - Choose your opponents team
Power - Allows you to get the first hit in a match
Soul - Allows you to erase one of your losses in a set
These abilities could only be used for one game but they added a wild set of strategies and decision making to a normal double elimination format. Another caveat is that if you beat a player holding a stone, you would then acquire the stone for yourself to use at your discretion.
Despite the release of a new game and crazy infinity stone shenanigans, the tournament came down to familiar faces in the marvel community with our own Monster superstar, Evil Geniuses Chris ‘NYChrisG’ Gonzales taking on Jonathan ‘Cloud805’ Morales.
NYChrisG ran a team of Morrigan/Monster Hunter, which was awesome to watch as NYChrisG is without question the most famous Morrigan player from the previous Marvel vs Capcom game. In Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, NYChrisG used a suffocating projectile game but in MVCI, a new strategy was required. Morrigan cannot overwhelm the enemy with cries of ‘Soul Fist’ anymore so finding a way to adapt to the new game and use Monster Hunter’s explosive offense and armored moveset was vital.
NYChrisG had a stacked path to the finals, first defeating Canada Cup champion and Mind stone holder Luis ‘Teemo’ Gomez 3-2. He then fell to Cloud805 2-3, who used the Power stone in game 1. NYChrisG responded by using the Mind stone in game 2, but it was not enough to win the series. On his losers run, he defeated Japanese fighting game legend Ryota ‘Kazunoko’ Inoue 3-0, former EVO champion Job ‘Flocker’ Figueroa 3-0, SCR2017 winner and Soul stone holder Richard Nguyen 3-0, online qualifier Nico ‘Stealth’ Sutton 3-2, and last year’s EVO winner Ryan ‘RyanLV’ Romero 3-0.
After surviving a brutal path through the losers bracket of EVO champions, old legends and new faces, NYChrisG fought his way to a grand finals runback against Cloud805. NYChrisG immediately used the time stone to block any stone usage from Cloud805. While it was the smart choice, it wasn’t enough. Cloud805’s Zero/Dante team proved too powerful and NYChrisG fell in double jeopardy to Cloud805 2-3 in the final game. Cloud805 claimed the Infinity Gauntlet and with it, ultimate power over the cosmos. Congrats to Cloud805, but our Evil Genius won’t give up hope of controlling the universe so easily. We can’t wait to see what NYChrisG and Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite have ready for next season.