The ECS LAN Finals has completed its group stage and we are down to only four teams in the tournament. The tournament started with eight teams and a very contentious Tournament format. However, this tournament also has several storylines tied up to its duration. One of the last few tournaments before the London FaceIT Major, the ECS LAN Finals is witness to the battle between the final four teams.
Group Stage format
The ECS LAN Finals format had teams play Best of Ones in the opening matches. The winning teams would then play each other in another BO1. So essentially, teams which win two Best of Ones, get a spot in the Semifinals. Best of One matches have never been the proper calibration of a team’s performance. BO1 matches are hotspots for big upsets as multiple reasons can play a crucial part in a team’s ability to win a BO1 match.
Just before any results happen I just want to say that winning 2 bo1’s to make semi-finals is not a good format, especially after playing an 18 game season. Not hating, just my opinion. I feel like a more in depth format can be done with an 8 team LAN.
— daps (@daps) June 8, 2018
Thankfully the format does not feature BO1 matches throughout the group stage. The losers’ matches and the subsequent Decider match are Best of Three games. If these would have been BO1 matches as well, a team would have to go home after just two BO1 matches.
You can win ECS by winning 6 maps. Pretty weak format for showcasing great Counter-Strike in 2018. Na’Vi won StarSeries after 19 maps played.
— Thorin (@Thooorin) June 9, 2018
The main reason for the incompetent format is the time constraint. Since all the Group Stage matches are played live on stage, there are economic and logistics issues at hand. FaceIT has booked the venue for three days, which include the semifinals and the final matches. The playoffs cannot essentially be anything other than BO3 matches. Therefore the organizers decided to trim the number of games in the Group stage.
When you consider the venue problem, you feel there was no other option to the current format. But it is not necessary to play all the matches live on stage. The current norm in esports tournaments is to play Group stage matches off-stage. This leaves adequate preparation and time for matches at the venue.
ECS Season 5 LAN Finals Playoffs
The tournament has come down to it’s final four teams. These teams might not be the strongest potential teams, but they have survived to reach the playoffs. It is no surprise to see Astralis and even Faze Clan in the playoffs But NRG definitely sprung a big surprise on everyone with their splendid performances. As we head into the final three matches, we take a look at the remaining teams.
- Team Liquid
- Faze Clan
Astralis – The current kings of Counter-Strike
The Danish roster is definitely the favorite to win this tournament. They have been in close competition with Faze Clan through the majority of the last few months. The two teams have had mixed results when faced with each other. But withFaze not playing at their full strength at this tournament, Astralis has a clear advantage.
Strong CT Sides has been the key performance on Astralis’ part at this tournament. Granted they won two BO1 matches, but their CT performance has been the only reason for these wins. The first match was against Cloud9 on Inferno.Cloud9 has a lot of experience on Inferno and their strong CT hold almost pushed Astralis into an elimination match. Down 12-3, Astralis showed great resolve to win their first twelve CT rounds. Their strong defense came in the form of eliminations and Cloud9 never got the opportunity to plant the C4. The first time that Cloud9 managed to plant the C4 was in the 28th round.
Astralis’ strong performance is led by Magisk who keeps showing strong personal results. Even when the rest of the team might not perform to the top levels, Magisk is always the best in the server. Of course, Device is the star on the team and it is rare that he has a bad game. The two players together make up the front lines for Astralis. However, their performance is enabled by the rest of the roster, which helps in the smokes and proper movements throughout the map. Their next match against Team Liquid was a relatively easy win for the Danish roster.
NRG esports – New Kids on the block
NRG is the revelation at ECS Season 5 LAN Finals. The team had received adulation during IEM Sydney 2018 but failed to deliver at the event. In London, NRG looks really strong and have been able to dominate their opponents.
The team has however faced two very experienced, but weak rosters. G2 and Faze consist of veterans in the Counter-Strike community. But the G2 roster was just put together and has not had enough time to practice. Barely a week old, this G2 team has the potential to grow and become one of the best teams in the world. Judging them by one match is a misguided view of their potential.
NRG also won their match against Faze Clan, which is currently playing with Cromen on their team. With Olofmeister out of action for the unforeseen future, Faze Clan is missing a crucial part of its roster. Ensuring proper rest and adequate relaxation for its players is important for the organization. Now despite these shortcomings in their opponents, we cannot simply overlook NRG’s results.
Despite facing off against weaker versions of the teams, NRG’s scorelines indicate a strong dominance in these matches. Here are the matches and the final scores for the NRG matches:
- NRG vs G2 (Mirage) :16 – 4
- NRG vs Faze Clan (Cache) : 16 – 8
Neither of their opponents was able to reach double digits, thanks in part to CERQ and his AWP. The 18-year-old Bulgarian is one of the most promising upcoming talents in the Counter-Strike scene.
Cerq – The Rising Star
It’s only data from two matches, but the quality of opposition has to be taken into account. Cerq’s strong performance threw back set executes from these teams. But he was also able to win straight up aim duels. He is one of the brightest upcoming stars in Counter-Strike and the biggest reason why NRG is going to be a strong contender in this tournament.
Guided by some veterans of North American Counter-Strike in NahtE and Daps, CERQ’s impact on the match is only going to rise. His true test will be against much better and complete teams such as Astralis if they meet later in this tournament. Counter-Strike is a team game enabled by individuals and Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov enables the NRG esports roster.
Team Liquid – Consistent enough?
Team Liquid form the second North American team to be a part of ECS Season 5 LAN Playoffs. The North American team has always been one of the best teams in Counter-Strike, but compared to European teams, they always seem to falter.
The big change for this team has been the addition of Taco. The flamboyant Brazilian player has a very aggressive playstyle and is imperative for Team Liquid’s early advantage in many of their matches. The team has a very standard first map veto, Overpass. This is their go-to veto irrespective of their opponents. They also prefer to remove Train and sometimes Nuke, depending on their opponents. Since their next match will be a Best of Three semifinal match, the map veto is of particular importance.
The Liquid players, however, have been extremely inconsistent in their matches. Twistzz and TACO are constantly seeing movements through the scoreboard. There are occasions when Twistzz will be the best player on the team, but his performance will drop him to the worst score in the next match. Such drastic changes over the course of a single match make them extremely unpredictable as a team. They have a high skill ceiling, but consistency is a serious issue for the team.
Faze Clan – How big of a threat is Faze Clan?
The tournament playoff team list would have been incomplete without Faze Clan. The Faze Clan roster is a tame version of Fnatic of 2013. Despite not being as successful, the team has a lot of swagger and attitude, something sorely losing from Astralis. There is no doubt about the potential for Faze Clan.
Their latest match versus G2 did start off in a very close manner, but the G2 roster has had no time together. Despite the lack of preparation, they do look decent especially on the back of KennyS performance. His form in the semifinals match is reminiscent of the 2013 form, a scary prospect indeed. However, Faze Clan were able to play their part and easily win the semifinal in the end.
But in the end, how much should be taken into account this win against G2? Not much, especially since G2 is just 5 days old. Faze Clan has several strong individual players. Guardian’s individual performance seems to be slightly improving, and Niko has always maintained a high-performance output.
Faze Clan relies more on their individual performance and winning the aim duels. Ths reliance on individual talent is hampered by their roster problems. With Olofmeister not being a part of the team, possibly due to health issues; Faze Clan is not playing at their full potential. Cromen has had a good performance, however, he plays a more supportive role on the team.
Faze Clan’s chances in the playoffs will depend on Guardian’s performance. He has had ups and downs in their matches, sometimes even bottom fragging. The veteran AWPer’s performance will dictate Faze’s impact on their ECS playoff run. Right now, they seem to be a decent challenge to Astralis, but is it enough to defeat the Danes?
There are several teams with new rosters/members taking part at ECS Season 5 LAN Finals. This does not put a dampener on the quality of Counter-Strike at the event by any means. On the contrary, everyone is interested and excited to see how the teams develop with new names on the teams. Astralis remains the strongest team with the results and performance to back them up, but the number of challenges just keeps growing.
Often, it is more important to peak at the right time for the CS GO Majors rather than dominate for several months prior. In the past two to three Majors, we have seen unexpected teams secure the victory at CS GO Majors. This tournament is one of the few last tournaments before the FaceIT London Major. The playoff matches will provide a sneak peek into the form and potential of the teams before the London Major. You can catch all the action live on Youtube starting at 12:15 BST.