Many of the world’s top CS:GO teams warmed up for this week’s ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals by competing at one of two big events last weekend. First came the long-established DreamHack Winter 2018. Then, there was the first major CS:GO tournament to be held in Malta, the SuperNova 2018.
Without further adieu, let’s recap.
DreamHack Winter 2018
The Elmia Convention Center was home to the eight teams battling it out for a $50,000 share of the $100,000 prize pool and across the three days of action. Scandinavian team ENCE Esports claimed the victory.
It has been a stellar couple of months for the Finnish team. They won the ASUS Rog Finnish Championship 2018, followed a month or so later by a strong second-place finish at the DreamHack Open Montreal 2018.
Then, ENCE claimed a $125,000 first price at the StarSeries & i-League CSGO Season 6 event. That result essentially announced them onto the world stage. They followed that a short time later with a victory at the Assembly GameXpo 2018.
The journey to victory
Based on those strong performances ENCE eSports started the DreamHack Winter as one of the form teams, but things didn’t quite go to plan in the first game. In a tight best-of-one encounter with G2 Esports, ENCE went down 16-14. That put the team up against it in terms of qualifying from the group.
Then, ENCE kicked into a higher gear in an elimination match. ENCE triumphed 2-1 over OpTic Gaming, coming back from losing the first map 13-16. They won the next two 16-11 and 16-9 to keep their hopes alive.
With Bravado Gaming taking an unexpected top spot in Group B, ENCE would face G2 Esports, the team that beat them in the opener. This time around, ENCE produced a much stronger display, winning the first two maps 16-11 and 16-13 to earn the second seed spot in Group B
In the playoffs, ENCE found themselves up against Heroic, who had qualified very strongly in Group A. But by that time, ENCE were right in the groove. The Finnish team produced a superb display, arguably their best of the tournament, defeating the Group A top seeds 16-7, 16-9 to move into the final.
There they would face another top seed, Bravado Gaming. It was a one-sided affair with ENCE’s greater experience showing. They ran out comfortable winners in the end 2-0 (16-9, 16-5) to claim first place in the tournament.
Bravado Gaming can be heartened by their display, however, as they were rank outsiders heading into the tournament and the second-place finish in the event is one of their most high-profile performances in the South African team’s short history.
SuperNova Malta 2018 recap
With $150,000 in prize money up for grabs, $50,000 more than at the DreamHack event, it is perhaps unsurprising that more teams opted for the greater cash on offer and the undoubtedly sunnier weather of southern Europe.
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As expected, the four teams that had qualified for the ESL Pro League Season Finals were dominant in the Maltese event. Team Liquid made the perfect preparation for the tournament in Denmark by wrapping up a fine victory in the final on Sunday.
It was a lockdown performance by Team Liquid. They ended up as the top seeds in Group A after excellent victories in their opening two games, a 16-10 victory over Virtus.pro in the best-of-one opener followed by a decisive 2-1 (8-16, 16-12, 16-5) victory over NRG Esports in the Winner’s Match.
In the semifinals, Team Liquid first met BIG, who had finished as the No. 2 seeds in Group B. Once again, Liquid showed top form, winning the first two maps 16-14 and 16-10 to ensure they moved smoothly into the final.
There they locked horns again with NRG Esports. It was another one-sided affair: Liquid wrapped up a 2-0 victory (16-4, 16-14) in relatively comfortable fashion.
The win was a welcome one for Team Liquid, who broke a string of second-place finishes at a number of top events (usually to Astralis). It marked their first win in a Major since the cs_summit 2 victory over Cloud9 back in February. They are likely to be one of the strongest challengers to Astralis this week.