Winners and Losers of ECS S3 Finals
The third season of ECS was brought to to an end last weekend in London, England, with SK lifting the trophy after a victory over FaZe. With the event now in the rearview mirror, we take a look at who the winners and losers of this event were.
The ECS Season 3 finals took place on June 23-26 at the SSE Arena, the same venue where the first ECS event was held. Eight teams, four from North America and four from Europe, competed for $660,000 in a tournament featuring a GSL group stage that was followed by BO3 playoffs.
A tournament as stacked as the ECS Season 3 finals promised excitement right from the first phase—the group stage. With SK, FaZe and G2 in Group A and only two teams making it out, one of the top four teams in the world was bound to finish the competition early. In the end it was G2, alongside a struggling OpTic, who bombed out, with both teams losing their Lower Bracket matches in a convincing manner.
Astralis were the clear favorites to take the first playoff seed from Group B, but a fired up Cloud9 interfered with the Danes' plans. The North American side ended up taking the first place in Group B with a 16-8 win over fnatic and a comeback against Astralis on Mirage, on which we saw Timothy "autimatic" Ta drop 34 kills and Mike "shroud" Grzesiek impress with a 1.23 Rating.
After finishing 3rd-4th at the ESL Pro League S5 finals by beating Envy, Liquid managed to pick up another good BO3 win in London, defeating fnatic 2-1. The last playoff spot of the group came down to a series between Astralis and Liquid, with the Danes dropping their map pick, Overpass, but still advancing to the playoffs in the end.
The last day of the tournament started with a series between Cloud9 and FaZe, and the European side smashed their opponents 16-5 on Overpass, but Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and co. were able to reset and get a strong start on their map pick, Mirage. After an outstanding 12-round Terrorist side from Cloud9, it seemed like the series was bound to go the full distance, but Finn "karrigan" Andersen's team slowly but surely clawed their way back, managing an unlikely comeback to close the series out 2-0.
On the other side of the bracket, we saw SK take on another team from the top 4—Astralis. It was the first BO3 series the teams played since the Brazilians added João "felps" Vasconcellos, and it featured an exciting game of Overpass that Astralis won mainly due to a great Terrorist side. However, SK fought back, taking the series with wins on Mirage and Inferno.
It was a memorable match, but the grand final that followed was in no way overshadowed by it. FaZe started the series by winning SK's map pick, Mirage, but Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's team secured their second title in a row with back-to-back overtime wins on Inferno and Train to make it 2-1.
|Group stage||Map (VOD)||Stage|
First on the list of winners are obviously SK, the tournament champions. And it's not only the final placing that counts—SK faced and defeated the strongest teams in London en route to the trophy. Two confident BO1 wins in the group stage (16-7 over G2 and 16-8 over FaZe) got them to the bracket, in which they took down Astralis and FaZe in BO3s.
Player-wise, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga was the main man for SK this time around, which saw him pick up the first MVP award of his career. The aggressive playmaker finished the tournament without a single below-average rated map and dropped over 30 kills in both of the maps SK won in the final, earning a whopping 1.31 Rating for the tournament. A great performance from fer isn't something that surprising, though, as he was already having a great 2017, but this was the first time he was able to outshine the team's main star, Marcelo "coldzera" David, in a competition won by SK.
Victories over elite opposition at ECS S3 were just what SK needed to prove they are truly back to the top. In that regard, the Brazilians are the biggest winners as they earned the title of the best team in the world once again, but will still have to defend it before the Major with a strong performance at ESL One Cologne.
If we disregard the Americas Minor, where the field was in no way impressive, Cloud9 had not advanced to the playoffs of a single big event since the ESL Pro League S4 Finals, which were held in October of last year. That changed this weekend in London as Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert and co. took down two European teams—fnatic and Astralis—to secure a playoff spot.
One could find some drawbacks to Cloud9's showing at ECS S3, though. Their wins came from BO1s, and their map pool, past Mirage, Train and perhaps Cache, is a big question mark. But that doesn't change the fact that there were positives to take: autimatic put on great performances—now with the in-game leading off his shoulders—, Stewie2K was standardly good, and shroud had a much better showing after his career-low DreamHack Open Summer outing.
Breaking the group stage exit trend and getting key players back in form make ECS S3 a big win for Cloud9, who need all the confidence they can get heading into Bucharest for the PGL Krakow Major Main Qualifier.
Despite not making it out of the groups, Liquid perhaps have more reasons to cheer than Cloud9. The additions of both Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz and Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken are slowly paying dividends for Liquid, who showed stability after a top-four finish at the ESL Pro League S5 Finals by taking down fnatic in a BO3 in convincing fashion and putting up a good fight against Astralis in both a BO1 and a BO3.
Liquid's decision to pick Train against the Danes surely hurt their chances to make it further in the tournament, but breaking Astralis' streak on Overpass will be a warning sign for many teams, potentially giving the North American team an advantage in the pick-ban going forward.
Another win for Liquid was the fact that, alongside Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski, Twistzz had a good tournament, proving that he has been successfully integrated into the team and that he and stanislaw have found a good balance of roles.
After an ESL Pro League S5 Finals showing that finished prematurely, fnatic finished second at DreamHack Open Summer, convincing many that they were coming back in form just in time for the busiest period of the year. However, their results at ECS S3 have pulled the brakes on the hype train.
In the $660,000 tournament, the Swedes went out 7-8th, with losses to North American sides Cloud9 and Liquid, and looked uninspired all across the board. fnatic lost on Mirage twice (16-8 and 16-6) and were shut down by Liquid on Inferno, a map on which, at least at DreamHack Open Summer, they had thought they were one of the best. fnatic's situation can really be summed up by Robin "flusha" Rönnquist's tweet after they lost the DreamHack Open Summer grand final in which he states that he doesn't know his team's map pool anymore.
When your in-game leader is not sure of your map pool and your star players are not performing, it's hard to build any type of consistency. The early exit at the ECS Season 3 Finals was a hard blow to fnatic, who have a lot of work ahead of them and, with Cologne just around the corner, very little time in their hands.
For OpTic, the ECS S3 Finals was just another disappointing tournament. Since stanislaw's departure after an underwhelming Major, Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas and co. have found themselves playing a never-ending game of musical chairs. Two tournaments with Spencer "Hiko" Martin, one with Jason "jasonR" Ruchelski, one with James "hazed" Cobb, back to jasonR and then back to hazed again—the shuffling has taken a toll on the team, and that could be seen in London.
On its own, OpTic finishing 7-8th is not that big of a deal considering they were stuck with three of the top four teams in the world in their group, but it's the fact that they secured only 20 rounds over three maps that should worry the GreenWall. In the opener against FaZe, OpTic had chances to make the game competitive, but throwing away advantageous situations cost them that opportunity. In the second game, against G2, they were simply run over by the Frenchmen, getting outskilled all over the map.
The player that is perhaps feeling the lack of stability (or of stanislaw) the most is William "RUSH" Wierzba, the team's entry fragger and the MVP of their ELEAGUE S2 victory. It's no surprise to see him fall off, though, as his role is one that probably relies on confidence the most, which is tough to have without a stable team behind. And with hazed being just another temporary solution, that is something that probably won't be changing anytime soon.