This weekend at the Cybersport Arena in Kiev, the sixth season of the StarSeries and i-League for CS:GO concluded after eight days of action. In the end, the Finland-based team ENCE eSports clinched a narrow 3-2 victory over Vega Squadron in the best-of-five final.
A recap from Kiev
ENCE eSports’ intentions in this tournament were clear from the opening phase. Along with NRG eSports, they were among the two teams to first confirm their qualification from the opening phase. ENCE picked up wins against TyLoo, The Imperial, and then mousesports to start.
Also coming through the opening phase were Renegades, OpTic Gaming, and Fragsters with 3-1 records. Then, Vega Squadron, North, and BIG claimed the final three places in the playoffs at 3-2.
There were some notable casualties in the opening phase of the tournament too. Mouseports, HellRaisers, Gambit Esports, and TyLoo were all eliminated. What’s more, compLexity Gaming had an ignominious exit, losing their opening three games.
In the playoffs…
The playoffs opened with ENCE narrowly defeating BIG in what was the best of the four quarterfinals. The other three games saw 2-0 victories for OpTic Gaming, Vega Squadron, and NRG Esports against Renegades, Fragsters, and North, respectively.
In the semifinals, ENCE once again showed their quality with a fine 2-0 win over OpTic Gaming. There was something of a shock in the other semi. Vega Squadron shocked the previously unbeaten NRG Esports by a 2-1 scoreline to claim that place in the final.
In the final, Vega Squadron then threatened to cause an upset, winning the opening map against ENCE, but the Finnish team then claimed the next two maps to take a 2-1 lead. However, back came Vega winning the fourth map 16-12 to square the match at 2-2 and forcing a decider.
In that final game, ENCE proved their class once again with a 16-9 win on Overpass to claim the $125,000 top prize, leaving Vega Squadron to pocket the consolation prize of $50,000.
The top prize is the biggest cash win for ENCE eSports since the team was founded. It massively eclipsed the $20,000 prize for finishing second at the DreamHack Open Montreal 2018 back in September. It is also a big confidence boost for the team, who have performed well in minor and online events but have struggled when facing the top teams across a Local Area Network.
ENCE will be back in action immediately. They compete in the EPICENTER 2018 Wild Card event for one of three places available at EPICENTER 2018 later this month. They will battle against five other teams — Virtus.pro, Swole Patrol, Avangar, 5Power Gaming, and one TBD — to land a place in the $300,000 tournament. It starts in Moscow on Oct. 23.
ESL One Hamburg 2018 preview
After the drama of The International 2018 ended last season in Dota 2 gaming, we are set to begin another 12 months of action on Oct. 23 in Hamburg.
Twelve teams will be competing in this event for a $300,000 prize pool. It is not part of the official 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit. Here are the teams:
- Invited Teams – Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, Mineski, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Forward Gaming, paiN Gaming, Vici Gaming
- Qualifiers – Alliance (Europe), compLexity Gaming (North America), Team Aster (China), EVOS Esports (Southeast Asia)
Originally, TNC Predator had been the qualifiers from the Southeast Asian region; however, due to a scheduling conflict with the WESG 2018 Philippine Finals, their place was instead taken by EVOS Esports. They had finished runner-up to TNC Predator in the finals of the Southeast Asian qualifier.
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The tournament will begin with an initial Group Stage. The teams will be split into two groups of six teams, A and B with the matches played from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25. The teams will play each other twice in the round-robin format with the bottom two teams eliminated from the tournament. The top two teams from each group will enter the Playoff stage Upper Bracket, with the third- and fourth-place teams entering the Lower Bracket.
The teams will then play through the two-bracket playoffs until the winner of the Upper and Lower Brackets are known. These two teams will contest the best-of-five Grand Final on Oct. 28.
Odds on winning ESL One Hamburg
Currently, the bookmakers are offering the following odds on the Outright Winner market for teams competing at the ESL One Hamburg.
- Team Secret – 3/1
- Evil Geniuses, Virtus.pro – 7/2
- Ninjas in Pyjamas – 10/1
- Team Aster, Forward Gaming, Vici Gaming – 12/1
- Alliance, Mineski – 16/1
- compLexity Gaming, paiN Gaming – 20/1
- EVOS Esports – 80/1
Having enjoyed some excellent form last season and showing well in the Dota Pro Circuit throughout the year, Virtus.pro and Team Secret are among the favourites for this event. If I was going to back a winner here, the hometown Virtus.pro are my pick.