This weekend we’ve got the finales to two major tournaments: the DreamHack Cluj-Napoca major and the League of Legends World Championships. We preview the finals for both events and recap the rest of the news around eSports in this week’s eSports Weekly!
DreamHack Cluj-Napoca Recap
The group stages of the ongoing DreamHack major are now wrapped up, and thus the eight direct invitees to the next major are now set in stone. But these teams have been fighting for more than just an invitation. They’re fighting for a trophy. Here’s how we got to the playoffs:
In Group A, Fnatic were the highly regarded favorites to finish first in the group, and many pick them to win the whole tournament. While Fnatic did eventually advance it wasn’t easy for the Swedish superstars. After their first victory over Vexed Gaming on Cobble, Fnatic were upset by Luminosity on Inferno, one of Fnatic’s best maps, surrendering first place in the group to the team from Brazil. Fnatic then went into the deciding best-of-three against Cloud 9, and the once red-hot American team couldn’t contend, as Fnatic advanced with a 2-0 victory on Dust2 and Overpass. In Group B, TSM was in championship form, picking up 16-6 victories over FlipSid3 and G2. G2 rebounded from their loss to TSM, defeating mousesports 2-1 in the decider series, with an overtime victory on Dust2, and a commanding 16-5 victory on Cache.
In Group C, Team Liquid earned the unwanted award of “best performance by a team that finished last.” In their first game they pushed Virtus.Pro to overtime before the Polish veterans would claim the game on Cobblestone. Liquid followed this with a very close match against NiP before the Ninjas ran away with the victory on Mirage. With the win over Liquid, NiP earned a series against Titan to join VP in the playoffs. Map one on Cache went all the way to 30 rounds, with allu stepping up late in the game with the AWP to a comeback victory for NiP. Map two, on the other hand, wasn’t even close, as NiP went 14-1 on their first half on the CT side, claiming Dust2 and the series with a dominant 16-1 victory.
Lastly, in Group D, EnVyUs were in peak form with solid wins over Dignitas and Na’Vi. Counter Logic Gaming went the distance against Dignitas in their survival game, defeating the Danes in 30 rounds on Cobblestone. This set up the final best-of-three on Friday for the eighth spot in playoffs, pitting Na’Vi against CLG. Na’Vi claimed the first map on Train, but CLG evened up the series with a victory on Cobblestone, setting up a deciding game three on Inferno, where Na’Vi brought the hammer down, going 13-2 on their first half on the CT side, and holding off a push by CLG in the second half to secure the series and a spot in playoffs.
Worlds: Europe Falls in Semis, Sets Up All-Korea Finals
There will be a day when the west will rise up against the might of Korea, the most powerful region in League of Legends. Maybe the new TSM team will be the ones. Maybe CLG will be overloaded with so much faith that no one can stop them. Maybe a new challenger will emerge to claim a title. But it is not this day, and it will not happen at this year’s Worlds. Both Fnatic and Origen, the two teams who met in the grand finals of the last European LCS summer split, got 3-0’d by KOO Tigers and SK Telecom T1, respectively. For Origen, their result against SK Telecom T1 is nothing surprising, and the team with just one LCS split together under their belts have an impressive tournament to be proud of, and a bright future ahead of them. For Fnatic, despite the assumed dominance of Korean teams, they were considered the favorites in this match-up. But smeb would dominate the top lane against Huni, and the Tigers rolled over the EU champions in dominating fashion.
If you compare Europe vs Korea and KOO Tigers vs SK Telecom T1, the Tigers are certainly more of an underdog. SK are a Goliath, they’re a finely tuned, well oiled machine that doesn’t make many mistakes, and capitalize on the smallest errors made by their opponents. The KOO Tigers are, for lack of a better phrase, a band of misfits. They came together just under a year ago under the name HUYA Tigers, the rejects of teams such as NaJin Sword and NaJin Shield. Their strengths don’t come from individual talent, but from oustanding teamplay, and that has been the story of their impressive run through Worlds. For basketball fans like myself, this is like when the D-league All-stars, players who just weren’t good enough to get into an NBA lineup, match-up against the NBA champions. The Tigers are not all about winning: they’re a group of friends who wanted to play together when they each left their respective teams simply because they enjoyed playing together. They even have a chance at winning if smeb has another big series and they can lure SK into teamfights, but I’m still expecting SK Telecom to take the series, probably 3-1. Even if the Tigers are swept though, a group of pals coming together with no expectations and a sweep over the premier Western team in the semifinals of Worlds is far from a bad result.
- LCS: With America’s teams eliminated from the World Championships in convincing fashion, many of the top teams from the NA LCS are making big decisions regarding the future of their organizations and rosters.
- CLG: Blurred Limes announced on Twitter that he was released as head coach for CLG, citing that he and the organization did not believe his impact lived up to expectations. Additionally, Huhi was announced as the new starting midlaner, with Pobelter moving to the substitute role. The phrase “CLG will be actively looking to provide Pobelter with the best possible opportunities moving into the next LCS season” hints that CLG might look to transfer Pobelter at a later time.
- Cloud 9: Cloud 9 announced that LemonNation has retired, and they are looking to recruit a new jungler or support, with Hai filling in the role not filled by the new addition. Additionally, coach Charlie is no longer with the organization and has signed with a new LCS team.
- TSM: Last week, TSM announced that they were holding tryouts for their toplaner, jungler, and support roles, after the retirements of Dyrus and Lustboy, and the departure of Santorin. Well, let the true SoloMid jokes flow, as the team announced this week that they are holding tryouts for their AD Carry position as well. In the announcement, the organization revealed that WildTurtle will compete in the tryouts for the position.
- Liquid: Xpecial announced in a YouTube video that he is entering free agency.
- CoD: Activision and ESL are partnering for the Call of Duty World League of 2016. This will most likely mean that the League will be hosted on the ESL Twitch channels instead of MLG.tv.
- Overwatch: The foundations of the eSports scene of Overwatch are beginning to build. In a recent statement, Fnatic’s Battlefield team said they were leaving the Battlefield competitive scene, and while they didn’t say they were pursuing competitive Overwatch, they said they were very excited about the beta. Additionally, per the Daily Dot, the Tempo Storm organization has begun to offer competitive TF2 teams contracts to play Overwatch. Additionally, K1ck Esports from Portugal have signed a team of TF2, Day of Defeat, and CoD players to play Overwatch.
Streams to Watch
- Grand Finals of the League of Legends World Championships: KOO Tigers vs SK Telecom T1 in a best of five on Saturday. Click here for schedule and list of streams.
- Playoffs of DreamHack Cluj-Napoca CS:GO Major. Best of three quarterfinals on Saturday. Best of three semifinals and best of five grand finals on Sunday. Watch on DreamHack Twitch channel.
- Group stages of Hearthstone World Championships. Playoffs will begin next weekend. Watch on PlayHearthstone Twitch channel.