Here’s the DeKay Final Five from a wild week that was EPICENTER 2017.
Virtus.pro is back, again
Virtus.pro is one of the most preposterous and confusing Counter-Strike teams in history. The four year old lineup has been through hell and back multiple times. Almost every player has tried every role on the team, other than Pasha and Byali in-game leading. This same lineup plays ESEA Premier during the week and grand finals of $500,000 events on the weekend. If that’s not a great example of their time together, I don’t know what else is. You have to tip your hat, even I thought this lineup was done. This performance doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll continue this form, but at least they have the confidence required to keep it going. CS:GO is better with Virtus.pro playing well; I hope this sticks.
FaZe struggles for the first time
After a close victory against Gambit, FaZe Clan lost to SK Gaming in a close series. SK was able to take advantage of FaZe on Overpass with a lockdown CT half. Rain and Olofmeister had an uncharacteristically bad series while coldzera and fer finished with over 90 ADR. The group decider match against VP looked like it would end quickly after Mirage, but it wasn’t meant to be. Losing the next two maps wasn’t the fault of any one player but more of a team collapse. When another team is able to rattle off 10+ CT rounds, FaZe has a hard time recovering. FaZe won 9+ T rounds on only one map, against Gambit. This isn’t a large issue and can be fixed. It’s easy to remain positive when you’ve already won two events with this fresh lineup.
North goes South
I really needed to see an improvement for North, but that simply didn’t happen. With a majority of the lineup returning as defending champions of this event, I expected some flair. They got it done against Team Liquid but fell absolutely flat against G2 Esports, winning five rounds over two maps. There is no excuse for winning only one round on your map pick. Against Astralis in the decider match, North failed to accomplish much, only making it close on Train before losing its map pick once again. The best-of three format of EPICENTER should have benefitted North but somehow didn’t. This team has the firepower and a map pool; it just can’t seem to mesh the two when necessary.
Boltz is picture perfect for SK Gaming
Although SK had to play the event with a stand-in player, it was the best possible replacement in the world. I expected SK to pick up Boltz following the Major unless they won the event, but it didn’t even take that long. Boltz has shown throughout 2017 that he is one of the most consistent and fundamentally sound players in the world. Not just Brazil, but the entire world. He can help in-game lead, he can frag, he can clutch, and he can support. SK took advantage of that by letting fer run wild on CT side while coldzera mopped up, and it paid dividends. SK Gaming have one unique characteristic that no other team has: the ability to remain calm and collected on the brink of elimination. Every map SK is about to lose, the players look so confident and full of self belief. I don’t ever see a player get emotional or look rattled. They are always in it to win and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Give SK an inch and they’ll take a mile, or in this case the entire event.
More best-of three group stages, please
I love EPICENTER for many reasons, but the main one was a full best-of three group stage. In the future I’d like to see more events use this setup, with more talent members so they can switch off on the desk. This format puts the better team in the playoffs and removes those random best-of one wins that happen at nearly every event. Virtus.pro didn’t make it to the final because it lucked into an easy seed and won a couple maps. VP made it to the final with grit, teamwork, and willpower over multiple best-of three wins. Not only are the better teams in the playoffs, but the teams who make it to the end feel like they deserve to be there. I’m not convinced every final should be a best-of five, but once in awhile is just fine. Nonetheless, this event was one of the best weeks of Counter-Strike in recent memory. Well done.