posted by aliasalina,
Road to finals
Throughout the quarter- and semifinals, Fnatic already left no doubt about their intention and potential to win the final stage: Neither in the best-of-three against G2 Esports nor against Team Vitality did they concede even a single match to their opponents. While Fnatic therefore entered the final with a clean 2-0-statistic, Team Liquid still appeared to be a daunting adversary. The British lineup left no chance to the German CE Calling in the quarterfinals and emerged victorious from a close battle with French Team BDS, formerly DfuseTeam.
The rise before the fall
The finale between the two top teams started off as a head-to-head duel, with both teams continuously trading rounds back and forth. In the first game on Icebox, the teams even went to nine rounds each. It was only then that Fnatic's lineup unleashed their true offensive potential and claimed the first match in a rush. In the end, Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev on Jett even took it into his own hands to repeatedly engage his enemies, single-handedly securing the ace and initiating Fnatic's rush for the first match.
Having lost the first match by such a small margin, Team Liquid gave it a more serious shot on Ascent. And effectively so: Despite repeatedly falling behind in game two, the British lineup managed to catch up every time and finally stopped their opponent's hunt for the win at ten rounds. TL equalised and then overtook, claiming Ascent as their first victory. This win, however, was to remain the only one for the lineup, as it all went downhill from there on.
Team Liquid losing balance
The next match on Bind left Team Liquid barely standing a chance against their opponent. Fnatic strode onto the map, securing a head-start of several rounds right at the start. TL were unable to catch up and only delayed the inevitable by climbing up to six rounds before Fnatic claimed their final one and won the match. Team Liquid saw themselves confronted with too many individual outplays and a highly offensive adversary practically nulling their defenses.
This showed even more on the final map, where Fnatic translated their first matchpoint into victory. The British lineup only secured a total of four rounds on Split, being subject to increasingly overwhelming plays by Fnatic. James "Mistic" Orfila was even confident enough to first-time Agent Astra in professional competition in this game. Adding to this, Fnatic showed an overall unusual draft of three duelists with Raze, Jett and even Reyna, picked by Jake "Boaster" Howlett. Martin "Magnum" Peňkov on Killjoy showed how much Fnatic was able to walk the line, his individual performance carrying him smoothly to the ace – despite being on criminally low HP.
TL ultimately couldn't keep up with Fnatic's performance: the crucial game on Split was therefore lost to the overall dominant lineup. This leaves Fnatic with first place and 15,000 dollars in prize money, while Team Liquid still claims a proud 10,000 for second place. Both finalists have also earned their place in the Challengers Playoffs, where they'll meet the best teams from the other regions starting on 23 April.
EMEA-lineup for Playoffs
In the upcoming Challengers Playoffs, eight teams from Europe, Turkey and the CIS-region will take the stage. These lineups will fight for two seeds in the Masters 2 in Reykjavík, where they have a chance to face off champions from six other regions. The Challengers Playoffs will start on 23 April and wrap up by 2 May. The EMEA contestants for the playoff stage are the following eight teams:
|Fnatic||Europe||EU Challengers 2|
|Team Liquid||Europe||EU Challengers 2|
|FunPlus Phoenix||Europe||EU Challengers 1|
|Guild Esports||Europe||EU Challengers 1|
|Futbolist||Turkey||TR Challengers 1|
|Oxygen Esports||Turkey||TR Challengers 1|
|BBL Esports||Turkey||TR Challengers 2|
|Gambit Esports||CIS||CIS Challengers 2|
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