While Fnatic making it into the Grand Final of ELEAGUE Season 1 is not a happy little accident at all, most people would have bet that SK Gaming was destined to be their opponent. Instead, we get the perennial contender, Virtus.pro. With a win against the eventual finalists of ESL One Cologne, Team Liquid, in their resume, one would underestimate Virtus.pro at their own peril. If Virtus.pro was to defeat the Swedish Juggernaut, the ELEAGUE Grand Final was the most opportunate time for that to happen.
Determining the maps which were going to be played, Fnatic removed Nuke first. Virtus.pro responded by banning the derpalooza central, Dust2. Then, Fnatic picked Cobblestone, while Virtus.pro elected to play on Mirage. To settle on the decider map, Fnatic banned Overpass, Virtus.pro responded with Cache, leaving Train as the map to be played in Game 3, if it came to it.
Map One: Cobblestone
The initial three point burst was performed by Fnatic in the first half after their pistol round win and the following successful anti-eco. When it came the time to play the gun round, Virtus.pro came out out ahead on Round 4. A somewhat expected comeback run by Virtus.pro didn’t happen, however. Fnatic clinched four more rounds rounds after the Polish got their first point of the match, 7:1. Virtus.pro managed to stop Fnatic in Round 9, getting a point, but the Swedes answered back with two more. Next, Virtus.pro won a round and finally managed to keep their streak going until the end of the first half, closing in by three points, 6:9 at the end of their Cobblestone run as CTs.
The second half of Cobblestone couldn’t have went better for Virtus.pro even if their coach was the one to determine how it was going to go. Starting with a desired pistol round win, Virtus.pro started a rampage through the ranks of Fnatic, giving up only one point for their ten. Could it be that Virtus.pro made a deal with the Devil, which allows them to go 10:1 in the second half? While not really possible, it’s certainly what comes to mind when you notice that they came into the second half and totally blew their opponents out of the water against mousesports on Cache too.
Looking at stats of teams’ performance on Cobblestone, one thing immediately jumps out. While the only player to have a rating of 1.00+ on Fnatic was Robin “flusha” Rönnquist (-1, 83.0 ADR), four Virtus.pros could say the same, with Paweł "byali" Bieliński having a .99 rating. Of course, this could be easily explained by the total beating Virtus.pro delivered to their opponents in the second half. The player who contributed to it the most? Filip “NEO” Kubski, with a Kill/Death difference of +8. ADR of 116.0, and a HLTV rating of 1.40.
Map Two: Mirage
Before the playoff tournament began, some Fnatic players expressed that they didn’t practice too hard, having played Natus Vincere a lot. After the clobbering in the second half of Cobblestone from Virtus.pro, I suspect they regretted that a little bit. This lack of professionalism, sometimes seen in the CS:GO pro scene bothers me. When you are about to play in the playoff of a televised months long competition with a huge prize pool, you don’t “take a bit of a vacation” if you expect to win. Okay, rant over.
The first half on Mirage began exactly as it did on Cobblestone. Fnatic won pistol and two anti-ecos, Virtus.pro came back on the gun round. The Polish didn’t go on a dominating streak this time. They got two rounds, lost one, and then came back once again. This time, however, their streak lasted almost to the end of the first half. When it was over, the score was 10:5 in Virtus.pro’s favor. Somehow, I get a feeling that Virtus.pro didn’t take a semi-vacation prior to one of the biggest tournaments of their lives. Why am I not surprised that they clobbered Fnatic?
Anyway, the second half began with Fnatic gaining an advantage on pistols and using it to pick up three points in total. Unfortunately, that was the end of it. Following their win on the gun round, Virtus.pro picked up six points straight and won the Season 1 of ELEAGUE. While it might have ended differently if SK Gaming wasn’t removed, the fact of the matter is that the usual suspects, which I would have bet to win, dropped the ball in this tournament, to the advantage of the Polish VIrtus.pro team. I’m quite happy for them.
Looking at stats from Mirage, Fnatic had one player trying to drag them by the whiskers, while the rest did… okay, at best. Dennis “dennis” Edman had +5, 103.6, and 1.37, while the rest of the Swedes had sub-1.00 ratings. On the Virtus.pro side, four players had ratings of 1.00+, with Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski being the leader. Snax had +14 Kill/Death Difference, 98.9 ADR, and a 11.82 HLTV rating.
Virtus.pro defeating Fnatic in the Grand Final of ELEAGUE was certainly an upset; however, when you keep in mind Fnatic players’ blasé attitude, it starts making more sense. If a $1.4M prize pool tournament is just business as usual for you, requiring no extra practice, you might as well do the scene a favor and retire. I realise that I’m being harsh, I realise that Fnatic’s players are some of the best in the world and obvious favorites. With that said, resting on your laurels is the easiest way to lose. I also realise that there’s been many high stakes tournaments in a short period of time with ECS, ESL One Cologne and now ELEAGUE Season 1 Playoffs. With that said, when you are a professional eSports athlete, many people would do unspeakable things to get a chance to do what you take for granted, practicing hours upon hours every day. Burnout is a real danger, however, you can take a break AFTER that $1M+ tournament. You have a job to do, so do it,