The Starladder i-league invitational was hosted this weekend in Kiev. There was a lot of good Counter-Strike competition between some of the top teams in the world. There were definitely some good highlights. Here I want to highlight the winners and losers coming out of the tournament.
FaZe Clan (The Actual winners)
FaZe went into StarLadder with decent expectations. This would be one of the first tournaments with their new squad cemented. After being the runner-up in the last tournament against Astralis in the grand finals, FaZe was ready to take Starladder by storm. They barely made it out of groups, having to beat SK Gaming in a one map tiebreaker to get to the quarter-finals. Once they got there, FaZe narrowly beat out G2 to get to the semi-finals.
Faze Clan faced off against HellRaisers in the semi-finals. HellRaisers making it to the semi-finals may have surprised some, but they definitely earned respect. Finn “Karrigan” Andersen evidently did his homework, and he led FaZe to a confident 2-0 victory.
After making their way to the grand finals, they were faced with Astralis for the second grand final in a row. Even though I’m sure it is intimidating to play against a team that you just lost to a month ago, FaZe played very well. One of the most important parts of their play was that they dominated the pistol rounds. It was unreal how well Faze seemed to manipulate each round in their favor. In my opinion, with this tournament win, they became the best pistol team out there.
Photo Courtesy: dotesports.com
HellRaisers started off well in the Starladder groups, beating FaZe and CLG fairly comfortably. They still lost to G2, however. Where they really shone was the quarter-final matchup against North. North is a very strong team, and things were looking dire for HellRaisers after they dropped the first map to them. HellRaisers showed off their ability to keep themselves composed.
As the competitive scene in Counter-Strike continues to evolve, team mentality and resolve are becoming extremely important. The higher up the team is, the better the mentality. When you get to the top flight of Counter-Strike, the players are the best of the best and it is less about individual skill and more about team play/dynamics. This is what separates the low quality teams from the high quality teams. HellRaisers made some positive strides in this tournament.
Photo courtesy: hltv.com
G2 came into the Starladder finals looking like they were going to pick up this trophy easier than a European team in North America. In group stages, they went undefeated. Though this lineup hadn’t been truly tested in a best of three yet, their individual and team play in the group stages were unparalleled.
They went into the quarter-finals against FaZe Clan and saw a disappointing exit after losing 2-1. Making the quarter-finals is nothing to scoff at, but with the big names and talent on G2, it was a very disappointing performance. Their group phase dominance seemed to vanish into thin air after FaZe won the first map.
The series was extremely sloppy from both sides. Countless times a team would be on full buys, and lose to full ecos. G2 and FaZe had a strong amount of back and forth between them, but FaZe ended up edging G2 out of the tournament by just a few rounds. It was very weak from G2, and they will be looking to improve their form heading into the next tournament.
Photo courtesy: wwg.com
Virtus Pro (VP)
Starladder was really a sucker punch for VP. They came out extremely timid in group stages. VP was stomped in all three of their matches, and did not even manage to secure more than five rounds in any of their games. I don’t have any explanation for their poor play other than they got caught on the wrong day. VP coming into this tournament looked to be in contention for the trophy. However, with their swift exit after the group stages, it seemed to be a poor sign of what’s in store in 2017.