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As promised, here is the preview for the playoffs of GameGune 2012 which are set to begin very soon and scheduled to finish tomorrow evening.
Playoffs will be carried out entirely in a best-of-three double elimination system which is arguably the best case scenario for any tournament to determine who truly is the best team at the event.
Thursday saw the top four seeded teams top their groups with DELTA, Karont3, zNation and ENTiTY advancing as second seeds. Among the teams who had to bow out early were k1ck, x6tence, paiN and Giants.
Final two groups were moved to today due to massive delays caused by network issues on the opening day, and in those the M5-like tp.uSports and KerchNET overpowered k23 and Bz, who all advanced to bracket play.
We are now down to the final twelve teams left in competition in Bilbao and by Saturday evening one of them will be crowned the champion and will receive a big check along with 12,000€ of prize money for their efforts.
fnatic (Friis, karrigan, moddii, trace, Xizt)
fnatic had no trouble scoring two wins over Webone and DELTA yesterday and had they not lost a three-on-one situation in the second pistol round against the latter, they actually would have only lost three rounds in their two matches total. They are obviously in good shape and each of their players had their moments yesterday, but it's impossible to know whether or not DELTA is actually good enough to gauge how they are when competing against tougher opposition.
It will be interesting to see who will step up to be the main entry fragger of the team now that Rasmus "Gux" Ståhl is gone, because much like when Martin "trace" Heldt joined SK Gaming, his predecessor is once again almost like a mirror of himself in playing style. That is not to say the change is bad though; Heldt has been one of the top five players in the world for a few years now and even when SK struggled, he kept playing at an amazing level.
In the opening round of playoffs fnatic will take on k23 or ENTiTY today and will most likely face Virtus.pro after that. Although Virtus has proven to be a good team in the past two months, I doubt they will be a match for fnatic who will then go on to face Na`Vi or ESC in the upper bracket final. Without having seen these teams play more it's more of a guess than prediction, but I think fnatic still has the upper hand over the Poles and Na`Vi, and will probably cruise to the grand finals and win one of the two series there for another championship.
ESC Gaming (kuben, Loord, neo, pasha, TaZ)
The Poles had an easy time yesterday as they started off with a 16-0 win over one of the local Spanish teams and then defeated Brazilian paiN 16-11 on de_train to top their group. ESC Gaming is still yet to be really battle tested at this year's GameGune event and it's hard to tell what kind of shape the team is in, but they prepared well for the event and there is no doubt they want to win after their recent weak showings.
Unlike fnatic, ESC Gaming has had the same roster for years but it hasn't exactly made them a consistent team - 2011 was the first year where they had consistent results across the board at all events. While GameGune is not a major event where the guys led by Filip "neo" Kubski usually thrive, it is the biggest tournament on the calendar right now and I can only hope for the sake of all of us following the tournament, that they are treating it as such as well. If that is the case, they might just climb on the highest podium they've been on so many times before, again.
Due to their third seed they will face KerchNET in the opening round. Having lost against them in TECHLABS Cup it could turn out to be a competitive and interesting match, and if ESC are not in good shape, even the biggest upset of the tournament. However, the Poles should make it to their scheduled date with Na`Vi if we're basing this on odds. I actually think they're a 50-50 matchup and ESC could easily win in the upper bracket, but I think fnatic has them beat and Na`Vi will be able to adjust their play enough that even if they lose against ESC in the upper bracket, they will come out on top in their next match in lower bracket and knock the Poles to the lowest podium finish.
Natus Vincere (ceh9, Edward, markeloff, starix, Zeus)
As with the other top seeded teams, the Ukrainian boys topped their group but they actually struggled a little bit against x6tence, albeit after spending hours on trying to get the former in-game leader Sergey "starix" Ischuk's computer to work. However, it is important to remember that they are one of the teams who have always showed the biggest difference in their level of play when it mattered the most. I wouldn't judge them based on day one.
Natus Vincere have so far been the most consistent team of 2012 and would still rank as the best team of the year in my books. They have once again bootcamped in Kiev prior to this tournament and will surely hope they not only continue making it to the grand finals of each tournament they attend, but also to finally knock fnatic off after losses in both Copenhagen Games and DreamHack Summer grand finals. Furthermore, GameGune has finally gone away from the best-of-one system with pre-determined maps, meaning Na`Vi won't lose simply because of having to play de_nuke, like they did in 2010 and 2011 against Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg & co.
Na`Vi will face a significantly weaker team in the first round and then proceed to play ESC in the upper bracket semi-finals. The two sides have had tons of close series over the years and I expect this to be no different - both have bootcamped prior to this event, and their playing styles match up very well. I think Na`Vi will place second at the tournament even if they lose against ESC in the upper bracket, but should they win, I think they have a shot against fnatic as well. My gut tells me that Na`Vi will most likely finish runners up with a win over ESC in the consolidation final, though.
Virtus.pro (evil, hooch, kucher, LeX, xaoc)
After a successful campaign in Jönköping last month, the Russians have been practicing a ton to continue their strong play at GameGune. They opened up with a 16-2 win over BTK Gaming and topped the group with a 16-12 win over Giants, who then went on to drop out of the tournament against ENTiTY, whom Virtus.pro avoided altogether in the opening group stage yesterday.
The squad had been fairly invisible for a few years following Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev and Danilo "Zeus" Teslenko's departure from the team, but they are making a comeback towards the top of the final standings of tournaments which started a month ago with wins over SK Gaming and ESC. I was told by Dmitri "hooch" Bogdanov that his team has put in a lot of effort into preparing for this event, but I'm still waiting for Emil "kucher" Akhundov to shine more than he did at DreamHack where Bogdanov and Aleksey "LeX" Kolesnikov were the stars.
Virtus.pro looks to face off against fellow Russians tp.uSports in the second round, and it's going to be an interesting match. Kolesnikov's teams have always struggled against domestic competition, but I do think this time the more prepared team will come out on top. I do not think Virtus can touch fnatic in their current form, but in the lower bracket they can grind it out all the way to top four. However, there are multiple teams I could see them losing against as well, so I wouldn't put it past them to get knocked out at top six if things don't go their way.
tp.uSports (Dosia, ED1K, Fox, OverDrive, ROMJkE)
It's tough to say anything about tp.uSports' first day because they easily beat GiantsKilling, a local Spanish team, and then defeated k23 with almost as much ease with a 16-7 score on de_inferno. Had they played someone whose level we were better aware of, that could be an indication - however, since we have no idea what kind of form k23 is in, it also makes me question how much value we can put on the result when judging tp.uSports.
The Moscow Five guys on this squad have been outside of the limelight since opting to skip the starstudded Copenhagen Games for India Gaming Carnival. Their motivation has been questioned by the management and based on their in-game nicknames, majority of them also seem to spend a healthy amount of time playing other games than CS, which can't help their cause here this weekend. Add in the factor of Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov playing instead of their regular fifth and you really don't know what to expect.
First round of playoffs will pair the Russians against Virtus.pro, who impressed many at DreamHack. It's going to be a tough game and if Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov can play at the level we've seen him elevate his game to at times, the M5 players definitely stand a chance. However, I have to pick the more experienced Virtus.pro as favorites. If tp.uSports beat Virtus.pro I think they will finish fourth, but due to facing the loser of Na`Vi-ESC in the lower bracket semi-finals if the Russians lose versus Virtus.pro, they will likely defeat DELTA and ENTiTY before heading home.
k23 (AdreN, BeAst, dastan, KeeN, N1ck3L)
k23 is one of the teams who always come with a lot of hype simply because their star player Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev has such a large fanbase that it carries over to his teams. They managed a respectable fourth place finish at World Cyber Games last December, but that was mostly thanks to a favorable bracket draw that saw the NEXT team face off against weaker opposition all the way until their semi-finals and third place decider matches where they got dominated by ESC and M5. At GameGune that hype didn't seem to help the inactive team much, as they started off well by beating local Spanish team GiantsKilling 16-2, but tp.uSports went on to beat them 16-7, without much trouble.
They will face ENTiTY in the first round of the upper bracket and I believe it's going to be a tough match - the Macedonian side definitely has a good chance to win, and I might even put them as a slight 55-45 favorite. However, whatever way it goes, they will fall short against fnatic in round two. In the end, they will most likely make it through round one of LB and then face tp.uSports or KerchNET, who will put an end to their run at GameGune.
KerchNET (B1ad3, bondik, z1, craft1k, krutoi)
KerchNET has showed promise throughout the year and now is their time to shine on LAN when it matters the most. In the opening group stage the team did what was expected of them by topping the group, although in an impressive fashion - by losing only one round in the two matches against Spanish mmm and French Bz.
In the playoffs they will face Polish DELTA in the opening round which should be a match the Ukrainian teams will be able to win - DELTA could certainly throw some wrenches in the works, but I do not see that happening this time. Round two will pair KerchNET up against ESC which is the match they could really make waves here with; they have defeated ESC online in February, so stylewise it's not a bad match up. It's an interesting match, but ESC are still big favorites. In lower bracket KerchNET should take down both Bz and k23 before facing their next challenge - Virtus.pro. This match could push them all the way up to top three if they were to upset Na`Vi or ESC, but more likely Virtus.pro will prove they are the more experienced and better prepared team, and knock KerchNET out at that point.
DELTA (BEn, dOK, drive, sonamed, ths)
DELTA defeated Portuguese k1ck twice in the opening group stage yesterday and put up some rounds against fnatic, but only in the second half when the match was already all but over. It's still hard to tell what kind of form the team is in, because at their best they can certainly hang with the bottom of the world's top ten teams, but at their weakest they are cannonfodder to anyone of these teams playing well.
Opening round will pair them up against KerchNET, and I do not expect them to win. KerchNET have shown too much promise this year and have been preparing for the event long enough that I think they will have the upper hand. Unfortunately due to how the brackets play out, the other Polish team will likely be headed out to party later tonight because tp.uSports, who they will face in the lower bracket, are massive favorites over them.
Karont3 (chrisJ, fai, LEGIJA, tabseN, sukitRon)
Karont3 made use of their second chance against x6tence in the group stage yesterday as they turned a controversial loss on de_nuke around and defeated Spain's long time flagship team on de_train to advance as the second seed.
Opening round is actually a doable match up for the team with five nationalities, as they will face Russian zNation. If they manage to beat them they will face Na`Vi and bow out of the upper bracket, but their matchup will be similar. With a win they will face k23, and with a loss they are up against ENTiTY. I think both are similar level teams, and unfortunately for Karont3, I have to pick both of them as favorites.
zNation (AERO, hondroz, liTTle, redman, wAke)
zNation have been traveling all over the place in the recent months, having attended Copenhagen Games, xfunction Fraglider Cup and now GameGune. All those tournaments do have one thing in common though; they are yet to make waves with their performances. Yesterday they fell short against paiN in their first encounter but played better when it mattered, winning 16-14 and securing a spot in the playoffs.
As with Karont3, they will face each other in the first round which is a fairly even match up, but from there on out it's all downhill for the Russians who will either play ENTiTY or Na`Vi and k23 before more than likely getting knocked out at a disappointing 9-12th place.
ENTiTY (helius, kalaN, N1GHTMARE, NENO, osama)
ENTiTY came through for my predictions yesterday by defeating Jonathan "MusambaN1" Torrent's Giants on de_tuscan in the deciding game to advance to the playoffs, despite of losing against the very team just hours earlier on de_dust2.
Opening round of playoffs matches them up against k23 which can be a very close match. I think ENTiTY's superior preparation will come in handy there though and they will send the Kazakhstani team down to the lower bracket. Regardless of what happens there though, they will either face zNation and then KerchNET or Karont3 and then tp.uSports, and in both scenarios I have them going out against the CIS teams for a 7-8th place finish.
Bz (CosMo, drizzer, HaRts, ioRek, KIOSHIMA)
The French team built around Michael "HaRts" Zanatta had a promising lineup last fall under the name of eSahara, but short of one upset win at the extremely loud SEC event, they were unable to deliver time and time again. At GameGune the team was run over on de_train by KerchNET (which I do not understand - this team must have lost hundreds of times on de_train with huge scores, why do they not remove the map?) before defeating the French JaS for a spot in the playoffs.
They might have bested out their domestic competition but unfortunately for them this is an international event. Bz will face far superior tp.uSports in the upper bracket, and their destiny will be determined in a match against KerchNET where they are big underdogs and will likely have them join their countrymates Webone and JaS outside of the tournament.
The opening round of playoffs is scheduled to kick off at 15:00 with top four seeded teams fnatic, ESC, Na`Vi and Virtus.pro receiving BYEs. Four rounds of matches will be played today and you can see the revised schedule here.
Who do you think will prevail at this year's GameGune? Do you agree with the predictions or do you think they will not come true? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
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3 danish players in 1 team=danish flag... whats the prob?
Post edited 2012-07-27 14:52:19
5-6. ESC - ENTiTY
7-8. zNation - tp.uSports
Post edited 2012-07-27 16:45:53
Post edited 2012-07-27 17:55:46