SLTV StarSeries VII consolidation final brought us an instant classic that went to double overtime on map three, as Astana Dragons defeated NiP 2-1 (7-16 on de_inferno_se, 16-12 on de_cache & 22-20 on de_dust2_se).
Both NiP and Astana Dragons defeated fnatic earlier in the tournament, and also lost to VeryGames, so it was time for them to meet each other and decide who gets the second shot to beat the French-Belgian team in the grand final.
The CIS-based team that was created to beat NiP didn't have the best of starts on their own map pick, de_inferno_se, as the Swedes went up 3-0 on the T side.
f0rest had a number of amazing rounds and was NiP's best fragger in this series
Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg set the tone early with a 1-on-2 clutch during a 4-kill round which reset Astana's economy right after they won the first buy round. NiP went up to a comfortable 7-2 lead, which the Dragons weren't able to reduce until the end of the half which ended 10-5.
The Swedes then won the second pistol round as well, and brought the map to a close without too many problems 16-7, falsely insinuating that this match might end up being quick and one sided.
Moving on to NiP's selection de_cache, it all started going wrong as Astana quickly went up 6-0 on the attacking side. Richard "Xizt" Landström's 1vs2 clutch broke the streak but the deficit quickly increased to 9-1.
Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund then finally showed up on the map and scored 3 M4A1-S kills to start his team's comeback. It turned out that the Swedes finally found an answer how to defend, and it was once again Alesund's 3 kills plus an assist in the last round of the half that sealed the score at 9-6.
However, the second pistol round escaped them by a second as Lindberg seemed to have clutched a 1-on-4, only to have the C4 defused in the last second.
Edward was Astana Dragons' best player on de_cache, and maybe in the whole series
They tried to surprise Astana with a full buy in the second round, but Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev had one of his numerous 4-kill rounds to prevent them.
The Dragons went up 14-6 before NiP finally found a way to break through their defense in the A bombsite, and they took advantage of that in rounds to come, getting closer at 14-9 and 15-12.
It wasn't enough though, as all it took was one round in which Markelov and Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev clinched a 2-on-2 retake to even up the score to 1-1 with a 16-12 win on de_cache.
The final map was de_dust2_se where Astana began on the T side. Kiril "ANGE1" Karasiow's team went up 3-0 before Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson won a 1-on-1 to secure the first buy for his team.
He wasn't able to clutch in a 1-on-3 situation in the next round though, so Astana went up 5-1.
A couple of clutch rounds took place in the next few rounds, with Alesund resolving a 1-on-1 and then Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov doing the same for 6-3, eventually Dragons staying ahead 11-4 at the half.
That quickly turned into 13-4 after they shut down an A attack in the second pistol, but Johansson continued with clutch play, this time getting 2 in a 2-on-3 to get his team back in the game.
NiP started getting timely entry kills and opening sites up which forced Astana to save weapons several times, and the score quickly turned into 13-10.
Fifflaren won multiple important clutches on dust2
In an eco round that followed, it looked like the CIS squad will finally catch a break, but Johansson once again stepped up with 3 kills in a 2-on-4, including a nailbiting 1vs1 against Karasiow in the end.
Next noteworthy situation happened when NiP came as close as they've been for a long time, looking to even up the score after 13-12, but Markelov pulled out an excellent 1vs1 with his AWP and defused the C4 in the last second for 14-12.
Landström made up for losing that 1vs1 by taking out 4 opponents in the next round and it forced Astana to eco, making the score all even at 14-14 with two rounds to go.
Match point went the Ukrainians' way, but Lindberg's three fast kills at double doors sent this clash into overtime.
After a short break, the teams reverted to their starting sides and NiP opened up with a flawless defense, following it up with a complete shut down at A by Alesund's SCAR-20 and Lindberg's M4A1-s for 17-15.
However, the home team never gave up and the score was quickly completely turned around with Dragons on match point 18-17.
They seemed to be ready to start celebrating after Markelov scored two AWP entry kills in the last round, but Lindberg and Johansson pulled off an amazing 2-on-5 clutch, with the former getting a few especially crucial headshots to send the match into second overtime, 18-18.
Neither team wanted to let go, and the score was even twice more at 19-19 and at 20-20, intertwined with an amazing retake by Sukhariev who had another quad-kill and helped win a 2-on-4.
ANGE1's new team finally got the better of NiP
And it was Astana Dragons to finally string two rounds together, with Stolyarov stepping up in a 2-on-2 at the A bombsite with a couple of great headshots, followed by an overwhelming attack at the same bombsite in the last round for the final score of 22-20.
NiP have been eliminated from the tournament and will finish in 3rd place with a $2,000 cheque.
The best-of-five grand final between VeryGames and Astana Dragons is scheduled for 15:00, while the French side will have an automatic 1-0 lead thanks to coming from the upper bracket. The winners will go home with $7,000, while the losing team will have to settle for $4,000.