ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals: Recap
Posted 2016-05-21 Dare_Dev1L
The ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals has now concluded, and had its fair share of surprises! Fnatic’s LAN form while having a substitute made fans ask some questions, so now let’s discuss what went down at the event. The team unfortunately did not succeed in a first place finish, but did manage to place in the top four. We will now break down the recap into two sections, the group stage and the playoffs...let’s begin.
We predicted that the only real challenge based on recent form was NiP, with the American teams bowing out of the event in the group stage. Fnatic started off against Cloud9, who I believed to be the easiest competition in the group, that prediction turned out to be true. With Cloud9 attempting to put up a fight on Inferno, they did manage to get into the double digits but lost the game 10:16. That put Fnatic immediately up against NiP who are of course the domestic rivals of the team. The weakness of having a tactically unpracticed team was evident, as we ended up playing against NiP on Train which isn’t a map we play against NiP very often. We started the first half quite equal with NiP slightly taking the edge with a 7:8 at halftime, though unfortunately not being able to round up more than 2 rounds on the terrorist side before losing out with a 9:16 finish.
At this point what we predicted had mostly come to pass, though we still had the decider match to look forward to. The team with those honors were no other than Team Liquid. As a team who just recently lost one of their best players and AWPer, Liquid were struggling to keep up with the fray. The deciding match was a best-of-three and mostly went in the way of Fnatic in the map pool with the maps being Cache, Mirage, and Overpass (or should I say Olofpass?). Cache ended up extremely one sided with Fnatic winning out 16:6 after a 13:2 lead in the first half. Mirage was not as decisive, as Liquid pulled off 13 rounds before finally bowing out with a 16:13 to Fnatic.
G2 was a major surprise at this event and have proven to be a great contender, as they have edged past Luminosity to top their group. The underdogs topping their group actually benefited Fnatic becoming second in Group B, as we would not have to face Luminosity until the final and that was what we considered to be the best scenario for the Grand Final.
The match against G2 was also a best-of-three, with the maps this time being Inferno, Cache, and Train. I believe Inferno and Cache were proper maps for Fnatic, but Train was concerning as we lost to NiP on it during the group stage. Inferno started off a complete disaster for Fnatic, losing 2:13 on the first half while on terrorist side. That said, we can never opt out the team as they have pulled themselves out of worse scenarios over the years and they have proved it yet again, with an amazing comeback to win the map 16:14. The second map was Cache, and the team again struggled on their terrorist side, as G2 managed 11 rounds on their first half. With all to play for, Fnatic had to pull another miracle out of the bag but unfortunately didn’t manage the double digits as we lost it 8:16. The third map was a nail biter as it came down to Train, which we weren’t too sure of, but the boys did manage a proper terrorist side and pulled off 6 rounds on their terrorist side to end the half 6:9. The match did not end up sliding our way as we concluded the match 13:16 and placed top four at the event. G2 did not manage to win the event at the end, but they did put up a fight in their Grand Final against Luminosity and performed admirably at this event, there’s definitely something to be proud of to have underdogs being able to pull off these victories at large events.
To be fair this event was very much a guessing game, when a team changes up their play style it can both pull off upsets and weaken a team’s chemistry. Dennis has made it clear in an interview during the competition that they changed a lot for their newest addition, John "wenton" Eriksson, as they await the return of olofmeister. Switching your game up gives a different result as filling in a role, and although wenton wouldn’t have fit Olof’s role regardless, it definitely places the team in a difficult position. Placing top four was a valiant finish, considering the position that Astralis has ended up (bottom of their group), we definitely believe we picked up the correct straw considering both G2 and Luminosity were in Group A and performed remarkably at this event. If we were to rate this event in terms of performance under the extreme circumstances the team is currently under, we’d give it an eight out of ten with belief the achievements will build up soon.