The eight finalists remaining in the FACEIT London Major took to the SSE Wembley Arena stage this week after two weeks of gruelling competition leading up to the playoffs. As contenders thin out of the Champions Stage, viewers will be left to witness the best of the best skirmish against one another for the lion’s share of a $1,000,000 prize pool. These fixtures are more cutthroat than ever and we’ve got your match analysis covered in this week’s ESI Gambling Report, Powered by Thunderpick.
Keeping the dream alive
Quarterfinals had already shown two teams who had battled vigorously for their spot in the playoffs, BIG and Complexity. Both sides drew dangerous opening opponents, for BIG this challenger was a squad that had swiped away a title finish from them at ESL One Cologne – Na’Vi. The matchup was believed to be considerably closer on the bracket than what the reality was in the first playoff game – in short, Na’Vi disposed of BIG rather easily (16-2 & 16-6). As for Complexity, this was a team with a wealth of momentum behind them – having booked the first playoff slot while many never even considered them a threat of any degree at the start of the Major. Unfortunately for the NA hopefuls, they were pitted against MIBR in Quarterfinals; the mix of Brazilian and American players that makes up MIBR is a fiery squad who has maintained a sharp velocity since acquiring coach YNK. Complexity was able to put up a fight on the second map but ultimately fell to the exceptional firepower of MIBR’s roster. Now, these two victors will face against each other in the Semi-Finals.
Both sides seem to be so evenly matched in this upcoming series that a clear winner isn’t distinctive; stacked rosters, capability on a deep map pool and hunger to win makes this one too close to call.
Dark horses emerge as favourites
Team Liquid entered this tournament as a (literal) dark horse and surfaced in the playoffs as the new favourite over Danish superteam, Astralis. It was completely fair to be sceptical of Liquid’s prospect at the start of the Major as they had regularly failed to perform after acquiring Brazilian superstar Epitácio “TACO” de Melo – this didn’t stop the team from putting in the work to improve, though. The team breezed by the Challengers Stage and did the same once pitted in the Legends Stage – that was until they met Astralis in the third round. Surely this is where Liquid’s armour would be pierced as their cast of opponents up until this point was not necessarily of the upper-percentile… Albeit a close and hard-fought win, Liquid was able to overcome Astralis in overtime in a Bo1; the win was very significant in assessing the team’s true form at this event – what better way to legitimise your presence than beat the #1 ranked team in the world? We can’t think of many.
There’s not much to say about their matchup against HellRaisers; don’t get us wrong, they are a solid team and found themselves here in the playoffs – it just doesn’t seem they can penetrate Liquid in this form. Now, we wouldn’t say it’s beyond the scope of reality as HellRaisers is a spirited team that can catch fire quite easily. They also have Turkish AWP technician, Özgür “woxic” Eker, who is a game-changing sniper in the professional circuit in this era. Liquid is a team that is simply dripping with confidence at the moment – however, if HellRaisers can shake them up a bit by stringing together some rounds, it could be possible to unnerve the NA giants.
It’s raining Danes
While the best team in the world may have been overshadowed at the London Major by other teams such as Ninjas in Pyjamas, Complexity and Liquid making significant runs through the tournament, there’s no avoiding them here. Sure, they showed they could bleed against NiP and Liquid on their way to playoffs, but examine the scorelines – 15-19 & 28-26. Up against Liquid, they were down 9-0 on Inferno before winning a few critical rounds that brought them right back into the game and there’s something to be said about that; Astralis is a side that consistently demonstrates their professionalism – they pay less attention to the score and focus more on what they have to do to win the map. No matter the situation, the Danes always appear calm, cool and collected – they exhibit a mental toughness that allows them to be in the game where other teams would be discouraged and fall off. These are the elements that make Astralis who they are – the game’s greatest. Despite losing to Liquid, we believe a rematch in a Bo3 format would heavily favour the Danes if they make it that far, after all, they do have to play FaZe Clan in the Quarterfinals.
FaZe simply hasn’t been anything to write home about this tournament; joining in the Legends Stage of the event, they seemed dull, lacklustre and shaky. Their opening two losses against BIG and Na’Vi forced them into a situation where they needed to win each of their next three matches to advance – luckily for them, they did. Even then, wins against Mousesports, TyLoo and G2 were still not that convincing. What some people might not know is that after going down 0-2, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač took over the in-game leader role to try to regroup the team, a strategy that seemed to work for them.
“I took it over just to come up with something fresh in the team, to build some confidence in the team which we were lacking at the start, so people start believing in something,” NiKo said after their win against G2 that sent them into playoffs.
While you may absorb this information as a reinvented FaZe Clan, the reality of the situation is likely not as bright for this squad. It’s evident they are struggling internally, NiKo taking over this pivotal role was perhaps the proper move to help them advance, however, now they have to pull it together against Astralis. NiKo will have to come out remarkably strong to counter Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander in a brain game – it’s not impossible, but given the circumstances, we can see things coming undone for FaZe quickly if they take a downturn.
Although some of the Quarterfinal matches might seem ‘self-explanatory’, these fixtures are poised to be razor-sharp by the next round. The playoffs are the culmination of a wide qualifier and 2 treacherous weeks leading up to this moment and we’ve still yet to see the best the London Major has to offer. If you do plan to bet on any of the action in the final leg of this tournament, Esports Insider reminds you to bet responsibly!