Giants Gaming Giants Gaming Europe Rank #3 guaranteed the first of two available EMEA Challengers Playoffs today by winning the upper bracket final against Team Liquid Team Liquid Europe Rank #4 . In the lower rounds, Fnatic Fnatic Europe Rank #6 beat TENSTAR TENSTAR Europe Rank #8 and survived elimination.
Giants Gaming vs. Team Liquid
The first map between Giants and Liquid was Bind, where the former had been immaculate leading up to the event. And it showed, despite David "Davidp" Prins' disdain for the map. “To be honest, the map I hate the most is Bind. I've always int'ed on this map. But since I joined, Daniil "pipsoN" Mesheryakov helped a lot because I wasn't feeling comfortable at all.” Giants scored the game's first seven rounds in a row as Adolfo "Fit1nho" Gallego started getting comfortable. Liquid managed to score two rounds before the half closed, but that was about it.
Switching sides, Liquid started out the right way by winning the pistol round and the follow-up but Giants didn't drop the ball. They got right back into the match and finalized the next three rounds to guarantee the first map win 13-4. “Bind is our best map by far and people should be scared to play us on Bind. It's our map,” Davidp warned.No round looks lost when Fit1nho is playing like he did today.
Giants just kept going on Split. They took three rounds, and then Liquid won their first point thanks to a solid A defense. Giants won another six rounds and eventually finished the half 10-2, as casters revered Davidp's ability to earn his team space with the Omen, which led him to ending the series with 281 ACS.
After switching sides, Liquid managed three rounds but it ended up a repeat of Bind, with Giants taking the final three rounds they needed to demolish Liquid 13-5, securing the first EMEA Challengers Playoffs slot.
Davidp doesn't consider any of this luck. “Since I joined as a stand-in, we just keep on rolling. We barely lost practice, we were really, really good in practice. It's not the reason but we've been working a lot, practicing from 12 p.m. to 19 p.m. We've been giving everything to qualify. I knew we could beat anyone in the region.”
Looking toward the future, the Belgian only has two teams in mind. Regarding Challengers 2, he said “the best team still in is Fnatic. If they win [the lower bracket], we'll have to win against them again to prove we're a strong team.” But with today's win and qualification, Giants now aim for the big stages. “I'm really excited to play Acend. They're the best team in Europe right now.”
Fnatic vs. TENSTAR
The next two teams to enter the server were Fnatic and TENSTAR. The last time these two faced each other, in the first Closed Qualifier of Stage 3, had no problems closing it out 2-0. This time, though? Fnatic come in after a Herculean day which saw them lose to Giants and survive elimination against BDS.
Fnatic picked Icebox. They had won it against TENSTAR previously but kept a shaky track record since, contrary to their opponents. But according to Domagoj "doma" Fancev, they're “really confident on Icebox. Our losses weren't based on strats or how we played it, it was more us just not being focused and not hitting shots.”
So Jake "Boaster" Howlett shrugged their past results off, entering with a game plan that outclassed his fellow Brits' as they surged to 11 straight rounds before TENSTAR got one on the board to close out the half.
Fnatic held onto the pistol round to secure match point and TENSTAR managed two more, but it was there that Fnatic put an end to everything 13-3. The team looked cold even though they crushed their opponents. “When you're winning 10-0, I guess you want to stay as focused as you can to just close it out so you don't start celebrating too early or losing focus. So you want to be cold - just close out the map - and then celebrate.”, doma said.
TENSTAR picked Breeze as a second map - and with reason. Heretics, BDS, Liquid and Rix.GG Lightning all fell on their Breeze. Fnatic hadn't played it this event. As a result, we saw a very close half, with TENSTAR finishing it ahead by two rounds. On the switch, two back-to-back 3K's from James "Mistic" Orfila tied the result up and renewed Fnatic's vigour.Masterclass from Mistic: A 180 and a 5HP peak.
Their renewed hopes had Fnatic slowly creep to match point, with TENSTAR just behind all the way there. With doma and Mistic putting on a show, the team only let up two rounds while defending and secured their place in the lower bracket finals with a 13-9.
Regarding this turnaround, doma recalled yesterday's match against BDS. “I think we just didn't switch ‘on' quick enough on this map. We were doing some questionable stuff at the beginning but then we snapped back into it. The same thing happened in the BDS game, we just snapped back into it after the tac pause and then we just started hitting shots and winning rounds.”
Tomorrow Fnatic and Liquid have a long day ahead of them. The format introduced for Stage 3 sees both lower bracket finalists face off in a Bo5 match to determine the final EMEA playoffs slot holder.
They obviously want the win. But Liquid isn't the team they aim for right now. “I 100% am looking forward to playing against G2 the most again. When we lost against them, we were at 65%-70% of our full power. The second time we played them was 10 minutes after the Guild loss so that wasn't very fun… I want the rematch against G2.”