ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals – NA is Back in Business

October 31, 2016 - Esports

The Brazilian Adventure for some of the best CS:GO teams in the world is over, only one team emerged victorious. With the memes, which have being going around the scene for years, ridiculing NA CS:GO, the winner of ESL Pro League Season 4 is definitely surprising. Let’s be honest, even their mothers wouldn’t have bet that Cloud9 will win a tournament, where SK Gaming played on their home turf. Let’s talk about everything in order, starting with the Group Stage.

Cloud9 were place in the more difficult group B, where SK Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas, FaZe Clan, Team Dignitas, and NRG eSports were vying for a shot at the $200,000 big prize. On their way to the Playoffs, C9 defeated FaZe Clan, NRG, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and the EPICENTER champions, Team Dignitas, losing to SK Gaming. With a 4-1 record and +9 rounds more won than lost, Cloud9 finished the Group Stage in second place. Even though SK Gaming had the same 4-1 score, they won 33 more rounds than they lost, meaning they were first, earning an automatic ticket to the Semifinal.

If Cloud9 wanted to move to the Semifinal, where Group A’s mousesports were waiting for them, they had to take out OpTic Gaming first. The three maps picked for the series were Dust2, Cobblestone, and Overpass for the decider. The first match on Dust2 was a little bit weird, because C9 had the best rounds of the map while on CT side, when they usually did better as Terrorists over the last three months. In the second half, OpTic Gaming tried to start an epic comeback, but weren’t successful in the end. C9 won the map, 16-12.

The second map to be played in the series against OpTic was Cobblestone. Hell knows if OpTic were shaken after the first match or what, but they lost. Badly. Despite being the ones who picked Cobble in the first place. C9 started the game on the CT side and absolutely dominated, only giving up 2 points in the first half. The second didn’t go much better for OpTic either, they lost straight three rounds to Terrorist C9 and lost the match in an embarrassing fashion, 2:16.

Next, Cloud9 had to face mousesports. The three maps picked for this series were Cobblestone (C9) and Mirage (mouz), with Dust 2 left over for the decider. The first half on Cobble, where Cloud9 played as CT, went more or less even in the end. When the 15 rounds were done, Cloud9 stood 1 point behind, 7-8. Once the Americans got the chance to fight terrorists, however, they started dominating, only giving up 1 point to their 9. The match ended with the score of 16-9 in C9’s favor.

Starting as CT on Mirage, Cloud9 clobbered their opponents to oblivion in the first half, 13-2. When the tables flipped and mouz had the honor to protect and serve, they almost did the same thing, going 8-2 before C9 managed to stop them by winning the match. While it would have been awesome if mousesports could have delivered a similarly dominating performance, they came close enough to make the match at least a little bit exciting, which is all we could honestly ask.

Moving on to the Finals, Cloud9 faced SK Gaming, the team which crushed them in the Group Stage 16-6 on Dust2. For the Final series, SK Gaming picked Overpass, while C9 picked Mirage, which was quite dangerous because the Brazilians made their name by bodying fools on Mirage. When all bans were spent, the decider map was Dust2.

The first map, Overpass, did not go as expected. After the first half was done, the CT Cloud9 looked to be sure to win the whole match, due to their huge lead, 13-2. SK didn’t agree with that presumption at all. They dished out a massive beatdown as well, winning the second half 13-2 and bringing the map to Overtime, which they managed to win, 4-2, to end the game victorious, 19-17.

Now, on Mirage, Cloud9 could have been beaten psychologically or angry and determined to win. It looks as if the second option was closer to what they felt. C9 rallied and won the first half of Mirage as Terrorists, 9-6. When they got to play the advantageous CT side, it went even worse for SK Gaming, the locals lost 0-7. Cloud9 tied the series 1-1 against the one-time best team in the world. The next map? Dust2, the one where they lost very badly in the group stage.

Getting the aggressive T side, Cloud9 didn’t hesitate, mounting a thundering offense on Dust2’s bombsites, managing to win 13 rounds to SK Gaming’s 2. While awesome, that was not a guarantee of winning, like the Americans learned after the first map. Fortunately for them, SK weren’t up to performing miracles this time. The teams went even, 3-3 in the second half; however, that was enough to end the series.

With this win, Cloud9 is the first team to win a big international event in more than 10 years. Previously, Team Liquid with Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev had come close at ESL One Cologne 2016, reaching the Final, but they were stopped by… SK Gaming. This could be a big step in NA CS:GO, however, the truth of the matter is that Europe is still a stronger region over all. Also, teams like Natus Vincere or weren’t participating, putting a bit of a shade over this achievement. Still, SK Gaming used to be the best team in the world. Taking them down is definitely something to be proud of, even if they aren’t the best anymore.