All contents and photography by Joanne “TheEmpress00” Watson.
The ECS Season 1 finals for CounterStrike: Global Offensive took place at the SSE/Wembley Arena from the 24th to 26th of June 2016.
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The ECS Season 1 finals was a bad day at the office for Astralis. Their failure to make any significant impact in their best of three series against Cloud9 led to an early exit after being beaten 0-2. During the first map, played on Dust 2 Astralis’ terrorist side looked lethargic whilst Cloud9 were making much more pro-active movements on the map. Astralis’ new addition Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye showed his talents towards the end of the game. His frags keeping the team in the game for a few more rounds, however it was only prolonging the inevitable. The other players were constantly caught unaware and at times looked unfocused. The second map was on the Overpass, where Astralis’ performance again wasn’t very impressive losing four pistols rounds to Cloud9. Cloud9 went into the game with a much better mentality then Astralis, not being fazed when mistakes happened that lost them a round. The all Danish side seemed reckless and lacked the communication needed to give Cloud9 a decent challenge.
Cloud9 had a solid performance at the ECS Season 1 finals. The NA team showed more cohesion as a unit than the European side, Astralis. Cloud9 came into the series with sharpened skills, Jordan “Nothing” Gilbert consistently getting the important frags to claim the round. Jake “Stewie2k” Yip’s unpredictable and brave entry-fragging was catching the counter-terrorist side of Astralis out over and over again. Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham was coming up big with the AWP also, making it difficult for Astralis to provide a solution for dealing with him.
For Cloud9 the problems came later, when their next series was against Team SoloMid. Cloud9 struggled against a commanding TSM, with the new young talents of Sick, Twistz and Autimatic. Captained by the veteran players FNS and sEMPHis, Cloud9 lost the series 0-2 eliminating them from round two of the losers’ bracket after their victory to Astralis. The young TSM team came up with the goods after Cloud9 couldn’t really come up with any way to contest them. It is was clear that Cloud9 were putting an extra amount of pressure on themselves due to the unproven TSM team. Whilst TSM went into the game with nothing to lose and it had paid off for them.
After winning their best of one matches against Cloud9 and TSM in the winner’s bracket. Fnatic had only G2 eSports standing in their way to reach the grand finals. Fnatic hoped to meet Luminosity Gaming to put a stop to their impressive form. However to their dismay G2 eSports happened to be on hot form. Overpass was the first map to be played in the best of three series, where Fnatic only managed to win two rounds. One of the rounds consisting of a mistake from G2 eSports themselves. Richard “shox” Papillon, Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and Cedric “RpK” Guipouy all had other ideas for Fnatic reaching the grand finals each finishing with high kill to death ratios. The next game was a lot closer on the map Dust 2, but in the end G2’s counter-terrorist side was just strong to contest with. Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux was coming up big with the AWP taking two players down from Fnatic most of the time. The closer second game was a tough pill to swallow for for the Swedes but there was no denying that shox, ScreaM and RpK were on top form.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
NiP began in the opening match versus Luminosity Gaming. LG determined to keep their title of being the best team in the world, made sure the momentum would only end in their favor. The best of one game was a close one NiP were performing well on the terrorist side of train after a good performance on counter-terrorist side. The Swedes were a few rounds ahead and in a comfortable position. After a few eco rounds from LG, NiP had to be ready for Luminosity’s retaliation of a full buy. The Ninjas began to buckle, simply disrespecting the AWP skills of Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo, peeking when they had no business doing so. The disrespect resulted in a loss 12-16 relegating the team to the loser’s bracket.
The tournament didn’t get any easier for them with G2 eSports to face in a best of three. G2 were coming up big on the rifle rounds and were keeping up their hot form. NiP had lost the first game 4-16 on Cache looking too reserved and passive. Richard “Shox” Papillon was showing how scary he can be with just about any weapon in his hands this tournament. The second map begun with NiP going toe to toe with G2 on Dust 2. Early in the game the Ninjas had given G2 seven terrorist side rounds by the first half. The second half NiP went with a risky default strategy that managed to win them a few more rounds. G2 consistently held as counter-terrorists when the opportunity for a full buy arose Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux performed well holding the A site from long. His AWPing becoming a human blender for anyone trying to attack A site from short. The Swedes weren’t taking it to G2, but instead letting them play their game without the firepower to match them.
After coming out the victors in their best of one game in the winner’s bracket against G2. Team Liquid confirmed the rematch (best of three series) by losing to Luminosity in round two of the bracket. Not shaken by G2’s previously dominating games versus NiP, TL went into the game with full confidence. Mostly fighting fire with fire both teams weren’t being very strategic throughout the first map constantly taking aim duels.
Joshua “JDM64” Marzano, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Spencer “Hiko” Martin were winning Team Liquid a lot of important rounds. Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux was at times playing a little over confident which cost G2 rounds that should have been competitive. Combine this with JDM64 that couldn’t be controlled with the AWP and the enemy had a mountain to climb. He was making game-winning plays with the sniper rifle, double kill after double kill with no response from the French/Belgian side. Team Liquid took the first game 16-12 on Cobblestone. Dust 2 is where G2 came back in a big way, going even until forcing TL into an eco round. It was G2’s time to pounce. The momentum gained from their rich economy only snowballed from there. It was a scary time for TL, G2 proving that with an economy advantage they are incontestable. JDM64’s AWP skills couldn’t bail them out this time especially with the rest of the North American side looking so lack-luster. Liquid lost the game 6-16. On the deciding map Nuke, TL were unsettled. They looked uncomfortable on the map, whilst their opposition looked well-practiced. S1mple wasn’t able to turn on the style and was completely shut out unable to make an impact. Team Liquid were eventually knocked out by G2 losing 11-16. Cedric “RpK” Guipouy was awarded the MVP for the series after an extremely solid performance in the decider.
After an impressive showing against Cloud9 here, TSM were looking like a strong contender in the London tournament. Winning the loser’s bracket TSM had no time to celebrate their win over rival North American team Cloud9.
The young talents had to prepare for Luminosity Gaming next, a serious challenge for any CS:GO team. Game one was a solid victory for LG, capitalizing on the mistakes of the youngsters. Unlike previous games of the ECS finals, TSM’s lack of experience was beginning to be exposed. The Brazilian team (known for performing well on Overpass) always managed to secure the important rounds as Team SoloMid caused them no real problems. Luminosity Gaming had been sure to do research of the Americans prior to the series, concentrating on winning the pistol rounds. TSM lost to Luminosity 3-16 in game one.
In game two TSM simply didn’t look comfortable on Cobblestone. It was clear to the spectators that Team SoloMid still had work to do if they wanted to be considered one of the best CS:GO teams. The unnecessary peeking resulted in punishment from Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo’s AWP. Dropping of the bomb in open areas that could easily be monitored by the counter-terrorist team. Twistz (pictured right) couldn’t show the consistency seen on Cobblestone prior to the game and performed under par. Despite the loss to Luminosity, TSM still played very well in the second game narrowly losing 14-16 . They were not expected to make it that far in the tournament so credit to them for getting to the playoffs. If they can play more tactically and cut out the amateur mistakes then this young talented team could be very dangerous. A respectable finish for Team SoloMid.
For Luminosity Gaming they were coming into the ECS Season 1 finals as the favorites to win. There was no denying that in 2016 they have been the most dominant team in CounterStrike: Global Offensive winning ESL Pro League Season 3, DreamHack Austin 2016 and MLG Major Championship: Columbus. Captained by the best AWPer in the world Fallen and his second in command rifler ColdZera, everyone hoped they’d be meeting Fnatic in the grand finals. However G2 eSports had other ideas, already confirming their place in the grand finals stomping over Fnatic to get there. LG had comfortably beaten TSM to obtain their grand final spot, explained here. After such a straightforward victory Luminosity Gaming were looking like a strong team. This maybe affected their mentality going into the game versus G2. The Brazilians knew G2 would give them a much bigger challenge, knowing this it was almost as if they were giving G2 too much respect. Their decision-making had altered from other games. They expecting them to be better than they were when in reality they could have pushed further or peeked to gain more information. This was easier said than done for Luminosity, of course. The French/Belgian side were firing on all cylinders, playing out of their minds. The first game in the map Dust 2 saw Richard “Shox” Papillon using flashes and smokes very effectively, whilst Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom capitalized on their disadvantages. His one taps constantly put LG on the back foot they couldn’t afford to be hit repeatedly but there was not much they could do. ScreaM was on fire; Luminosity Gaming lost this close game 11-16.
G2 continued their red hot form into the next game of Overpass. This is a map Luminosity were heavily praises for their performances on, however G2 showed their true strength. Already 1-0 up in the best of three G2 had no plans of taking it to a third game. It was a complete massacre as G2 asserted their dominance over the tournament. Everything was working for G2 like a well-oiled machine. Every player came to win the main three of ScreaM, Shox and RpK flexing their muscles, meanwhile SmithZz played above average and bodyy provided more reliability despite being less experienced. G2 were hungry for the trophy and it showed. In Overpass Luminosity were simply outplayed and outclassed, they had no answers for the form G2 was in. Shox was performing like a man possessed with the pistols achieving an astonishing four headshots in a row to win G2 a round. It was really incredible to watch such top players at the peak of their form. G2 had won 16-5 against the current best team in the world Luminosity Gaming on one of their best maps. They truly deserved to be called champions after this extremely impressive victory. This tournament has only made ESL One Cologne 2016 look even hotter with Fnatic, Luminosity (will be SK Gaming) and G2 all in the same group along with FaZe (that have the potential to cause an upset). The future of CS:GO is looking a lot more exciting after this performance.