fnatic have been crowned ESEA S17 champions after winning back-to-back best-of-three ties against Virtus.pro.
fnatic entered this match knowing that they had a mountain to climb in order to win the tournament as they came from the Lower Bracket, meaning they had to win two best-of-three series in order to scoop the big prize.
The first map of the first series was de_cache, where fnatic, who began on the CT side, came out determined and took the pistol round thanks to Jesper "JW" Wecksell getting two entry frags and leaving his team with a two-man advantage early on.
After losing the two anti-eco rounds, Virtus.pro then executed a perfect fake in A with two players which allowed their other three members to plant the bomb in B.
Virtus.pro continued racking up rounds, but at 5-3 they came close to losing the grip on the game following a quad kill from JW in A, but the Swedish AWPer did not have enough time to defuse the bomb.
fnatic then picked themselves up and won four rounds in a row to make it 7-6 in their favour, but a last gasp from Virtus.pro saw them win the last two rounds of the half, the second one of which thanks to an amazing ace from Filip "NEO" Kubski.
In the second half, fnatic looked really strong as they rushed B and planted the bomb in a 5-on-4 situation, but a perfect retake from Virtus.pro, combined with three quick kills from Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski, frustrated the Swedes.
The Polish team were then stunned on the eco, which allowed fnatic to regain control of the game and eventually turn the score around, but Virtus.pro restored parity on ten rounds with a good retake in A.
A triple kill from Robin "flusha" Rönnquist then broke not only Virtus.pro's spirit but also their economy, and the Polish team never found their feet again as they fell 10-16 on the first map.
The two teams then moved on to de_mirage, where a no-nonsense push from fnatic in the pistol round as Terrorist gave them the first round of the map, with Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer picking up four kills. In the first gun round, the Swedish team kept their momentum going as they executed a B strategy flawlessly, planting the bomb without losing a single player and while taking down four opponents.
Virtus.pro then went on eco and conceded a fifth round, but they turned up the heat in the following gun round as they rushed middle, with two frags going to NEO and three to Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas.
The Polish team went on to reduce the deficit to 2-5, but then fnatic got back into the game thanks to a marvellous ace from olofmeister, whose last two frags came in 1-on-2 situation in A with the AWP and while he was very low on health.
fnatic continued in the driving seat and eventually took an 8-2 lead, at which point Virtus.pro won three rounds in a row and cut the gap to three rounds. Markus "pronax" Wallsten's men then executed an A push following by a rotation to the B site, a strategy that caught Virtus.pro by surprise, with flusha saving the day with a 1-on-2 win.
With a 5-10 disadvantage going into the second half, Virtus.pro rushed the A site in the pistol round and held it down thanks to some great crossfire work and four kills from Paweł "byali" Bieliński. Virtus.pro were then stunned on the eco following a triple kill from Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson in A, but the Swedish team got a taste of their own medicine as they fell to an eco themselves.
The two teams then exchanged some rounds, with Virtus.pro eventually reducing the gap to just two rounds at 10-12, but then fnatic picked up the pace and won four rounds in succession to take the match to a second best-of-three series.
K - D
Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjerolofmeister
47 - 31
Jesper 'JW' WecksellJW
48 - 41
Robin 'flusha' Rönnquistflusha
39 - 29
Markus 'pronax' Wallstenpronax
35 - 30
Freddy 'KRIMZ' JohanssonKRIMZ
34 - 34
The first map of this second best-of-three series was de_dust2, where fnatic started things off with a long push in the pistol round as Terrorist, a strategy that proved effective as JW picked up two frags and olofmeister picked up three.
After winning the two anti-eco rounds, fnatic went on a B-mid split in the first gun round, and it almost paid off if it was not for NEO, who came out of a smoke on the CT spawn and kill two Swedish players from behind. NEO followed it up with another aggressive move in the next round, this time in A, where he paved the way for a round win before Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski got the final two kills.
Virtus.pro went on to restore parity on three rounds, but then fnatic regained control of proceedings and eventually took a 9-4 lead. Hpwever, some great entry frags from Snax in the last two rounds helped Virtus.pro to reduce the deficit to three rounds.
The EMS One Katowice champions spiced things up in the second half by winning the first three rounds, but then they were pegged back in the first gun round, in which pronax and olofmeister showed some great team work in the ramp in A, cutting off Virtus.pro's rush before KRIMZ won the final confrontation.
That did little in the way of upsetting Virtus.pro, however, as the Polish team quickly equalised the match on ten rounds, which broke fnatic's economy and forced them to go on a double eco. Once they got their money issues fixed, fnatic went on a double AWP setup, and this proved a very effective strategy against Snax as the Swedish team conceded just one more round before running out 16-13 winners.
Next up was de_train, where Virtus.pro, who started off on the Terrorist side, won the pistol round following a textbook A rush. fnatic then did two CZ/Scout buys, a risky gamble that almost paid off in their first attempt as olofmeister got four kills but still lost the round as the bomb went off.
With a 0-3 deficit and their economy in shambles, fnatic did two more ecos, and it was only then that things finally started to go their way. The Swedish team eventually closed the gap to 4-5, forcing Virtus.pro to call a technical timeout.
Despite that quick break, fnatic kept their cool and eventually picked up a 6-5 lead, but then a triple kill from TaZ during an A push levelled things up once again. The last three rounds of the half then went to fnatic, who enjoyed a 9-6 lead going into the second half.
Virtus.pro got off to a great start in the second half and made it 8-9, but a third-round buy from fnatic set the Polish team back. The rest of the half was a really close affair, as neither side were able to stamp their authority on the game, but in the end fnatic walked away with a 16-13 victory and an overall 4-0 success.
ESEA Season 17 Final Standings:
1. fnatic - $20,000
2. Virtus.pro - $6,000
3. iBUYPOWER - $4,500
4. Denial - $4,000
5-6. Cloud9 - $3,500
5-6. Titan - $3,500
7-8. eLevate - $3,000
7-8. mousesports - $3,000