After three days of amazing matches, two teams came out of the playoffs for the Grand Finals of ESL One Katowice 2015. This is the first major Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournament of 2015 and the 5th CS:GO major overall.
Two Swedish giants faced off against each other in a record-breaking event. The finals of the event saw over 1 million concurrent viewers over the game’s native broadcast service, GOTV and popular video game streaming site, Twitch.
Ninjas In Pyjamas (NiP), arguably the greatest team in CS:GO history and currently the number three ranked team in the world, faced off against tournament favorite, Fnatic. NiP experienced worldwide renown for pulling off a miraculous win during the ESL Cologne 2014 tournament. On the other hand, Fnatic reached the top of the tournament standings by virtue of being the number one team in the world, according to Duncan “Thorin” Shields. Fnatic had to slog through a grueling semi-finals match against Polish home team Virtus.Pro before securing a slot at the grand finals.
This is the third time that these two teams are facing each other in a major grand final, with Fnatic winning the first instance during DH Winter and NiP winning the second face-off during ESL Cologne. It is interesting to note that NiP has been in every major final of each tournament, while Fnatic’s runs have varied from one tournament to another.
The Ninjas won the first pistol round, but it was Fnatic who took full control of the driver’s seat by winning seven rounds in a row. Fnatic kept their opponents off balance by scoring a quick 6-1 lead before NiP stabilized and took a round for themselves. The last five rounds were a rather mixed bag as the Ninjas started to hit their stride, ending the first half of Dust 2 at 10-5.
With NiP starting on the CT side in the second half, the third ranked team worldwide scored the pistol round as well as the next two economy rounds, reducing the gap to 10-8. In the first buy round for Fnatic, they forced the Ninjas to play their aggressive split and lurk game, extending their lead to 11-8. The streak continued for two more rounds before NiP finally made it 13-9.
From then on, wonderful retakes and individual chip-ins from the NiP side turned it back to 13-13, at which point Fnatic called for a tactical pause. The results kicked in immediately as Fnatic took the lead once again at 14-13. However, in the following round, a clutch performance from Adam “friberg” Friberg made it 14-14 for the Ninjas.
Still, Fnatic closed out the next two rounds to win the first map of the finals.
Cache has proved once again that its strong CT-side became the deciding factor as teams struggled to hold their lead from T-side.
The Ninjas started with a very fast 5-0 on from T-side but after the 6th round where Fnatic was able to buy full equipment, Markus “pronax” Wallsten’s Fnatic team won eight rounds to make it 8-5 in favor of Fnatic. However, Richard “Xizt” Landstrom and company secured the last two rounds of the first half, ending it at 8-7.
For the second half, Fnatic managed to plant the bomb for most of the rounds but it was the Ninjas that showed everyone why they are one of the best site retake teams in the planet. The Ninjas took seven rounds back-to-back despite Fnatic’s best efforts to stop NiP from doing so.The score quickly snowballed into 14-8 in favor of the Ninjas before Fnatic took their first round of the half.
Still, Cache’s strong CT-side metagame quickly allowed NiP to close out the match at 16-10, bringing the finals to the all-important third map showdown, on one of the most important and deadly maps in the scene: Inferno.
While both teams are known for their performance on Inferno, popular consensus was of the opinion that the map favored Fnatic heavily. However, in the two instances that the teams have faced each other in this map in past major tournaments, the Ninjas have slipped the rug off Fnatic’s feet.
Tournament favorites Fnatic started on the CT-side as they took rounds back and forth until the 5th round when pronax and his comrades started to lock down the sites with impressive coordination. There were even points in which Wallsten’s squad just sandwiched their opponents, giving them no room to escape.
The score quickly became 6-2 and from that point on, everything went south for NiP as they ended up with an 11-4 deficit at the end of the first half. The first half of Inferno was a slaughter for NiP.
In the second half, Fnatic took the pistol round as well as the following two rounds on T-side, making it 14-4 and seemingly putting NiP out of the game. However, in the 19th round, the Ninjas rallied back and started to utilize their setups on their side of the map efficiently. The Ninjas won four straight rounds to bring the score at 14-8. After Fnatic won their 15th round, NiP seemed completely shut out from any possibility of a comeback. However, the Ninjas showed iron will and determination to make it 15-13 before Fnatic was finally able to close it out with a good play on the A bombsite.
With the win, Fnatic took home $100,000 and the much coveted trophy while NiP brought home $50,000 for their heroic efforts.
Fnatic is the first team to win two major tournaments in CS:GO history, a feat which has proved to be elusive even for teams such as Ninjas In Pyjamas and EnvyUs, among others.
It is important to note Aleksi “allu” Jali’s performance in the tournament as he led the frag boards for the Ninjas in the second and third maps of the series, despite the fact that he has just been recently picked up by the organization. Furthermore, the game showed that the Tec-9 semi-automatic pistol has once again proved its worth especially in the “eco rounds”, allowing seemingly inferior Terrorist teams on paper to take the fight to their better-equipped Counter-Terrorist opponents. Finally and most importantly, the grand finals match has broken another record as it breached the 1-million mark in terms of concurrent viewership.
Featured image taken from the ESL One website.