This past week was an eventful one from a CS:GO eSports perspective, with a major tournament wrapping up and a number of other going-ons unfolding, many of them impacting the whole of the competitive gaming scene in rather significant ways. The best way to make heads and tails of the week ending on March 7 is through a retrospective highlighting all the important events/news in a brief and no-nonsense format.
The week was obviously dominated by the Extreme Masters Katowice 2016, which came to a rapturous end, as the Swedish CS:GO team known as Fnatic was crowned winner. In the grand finals, Fnatic took apart the guys from Luminosity Gaming, winning the best-of-five series 3-0, thus securing the trophy, the bragging rights and the prize in style. Although the above said score is indeed suggestive of a blowout, that was hardly the case: the Brazilians fought mightily, taking two of the three maps to overtime, which means that these maps could’ve indeed ended up going the other way quite easily. In the end though, the Swedes triumphed, and they got to hoist the massive, NHL-worthy trophy into the air as glitter-confetti rained down on the jubilant spectators.
Despite the valiant fight put up by Luminosity Gaming, the community had Fnatic down as huge favorites from the get-go and they did indeed end up confirming those expectations.
In other news: Vici Gaming have finally completed the major expansion move into Asia that they had announced earlier this year. They have found a team to represent them there, in China’s Cyberzen, who are indeed among the most successful teams of the region and thus likely to fly the VG banner with honor. Cyberzen played their way into the semifinals of the Asia Minor CS:GO Championship, eventually only losing out to top favorites Renegades from Australia. The VG move will probably be beneficial for the Chinese CS:GO scene as well, as it will likely shine a much-deserved limelight to this rather neglected eSport genre there.
In still other news: E-Frag have announced the launch of the Razer Rising Stars League. The new league will be a world-wide one, looking to flesh out the CS:GO eSports scene by providing a solid, middle-tier stepping stone for as yet undiscovered teams and for downright newcomers. Intended as a grassroots organization, the RSL will be available in four regions and it will indeed fill a currently much needed role, one that is indispensible for the long-term health of the CS:GO scene. The prize-pool of the new league will be a rather impressive $64.6k and it will be powered by the Razer Arena platform. According to plans, some 50% of the slots in the new league will be given to open qualifiers, so those looking to make a name for themselves in competitive CS:GO will likely flock to take advantage of the opportunities. The league will have its studios set up in Belgrade, and it’s hoping to set a high standard as far as production values go. The most generous RSL prize-pool is that of the Europe region, which tips the scale at $20k. The European league runs from March 15 to May 1 and it features a total of 16 teams, of which 8 are invited and 8 are drawn from 4 online qualifiers. The other three RSL leagues are the North American, the South American and the Southeast Asian ones, each of which features a $10k prize-pool.
Right now, the CS:GO fan-base seems more interested in watching emerging teams compete for the laurels rather than the well-established and known pros, so E-Frag seem to be moving in the right direction indeed.
With their first Masters event just around the corner, Dreamhack have been busy filling out the spots of their upcoming Malmo event, and last week, the list of invited teams has been made public. There will be a total of 8 invitees vying for two of the available Malmo spots. The remaining spots will be taken by teams coming from open qualifiers, more precisely from a 512-team online qualifier which is set to kick off on March 12. The invited teams are Dignitas, mousesports, G2 eSports, SK Gaming, Vexed Gaming, Lounge Gaming, E-Frag and FlipSid3 Tactics.
The list of teams set to take part in the MLG Columbus has also been completed last week. With the last day of the closed qualifier in the books, the map of competitors is now complete as 8 more teams were added to the 8 already invited. The qualifier was testimony to the strength of the North American CS:GO scene: of the 8 available spots, 4 were clinched by North American teams, namely by Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, SPLYCE and Team Liquid, really a “usual suspects” sort of lineup. The other qualifiers who will be present at the MLG are Gambit, G2 eSports, mousesports and FlipSid3 Tactics. The invitees are Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Virtus.Pro, Natus Vincere, Astralis, Faze Clan, Luminosity Gaming and Team EnVyUs. While it looks like this may indeed be the year the North American region finally asserts itself in CS:GO, according to a poll run by Gosugamers, the community is still not convinced the North Americans have what it takes to pull it off.
Peter Wassenberg, a rabid Dota player/fan, has been involved with Gosugamers since 2004.