With 2016 over, a new leaf has been turned in the Counter-Strike scene. Rapid updates and explosive professional matches have had us all at the edge of our seats. I think I speak for all die-hard fans when I say we can’t wait to see what else 2017 has in store!
The opening major tournament of the year was hosted in Atlanta by ELeague, with the playoffs in the Fox Theatre. The excitement was high moving into the tournament, and it most certainly lived up to the hype. For those of you unsure of the format, there were 8 “Legends” and 8 “Challengers”. The Legends were selected from the previous major, Cologne 2016. These teams were:
The Challengers were selected through offline qualifiers hosted in 2016. The teams that advanced out of these qualifiers and into the majors were:
While SK Gaming had taken the previous two titles, their recent decision to remove Lincoln “fnx” Lau from their roster to replace him with Ricardo “fox” Pacheco had many fans stirring. Statistically speaking, SK Gaming should have been the favorite moving into the major, but two upcoming talents contested their run for a 3rd straight title. With the addition of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Natus Vincere seemed like an unstoppable force after winning ESL One: New York 2016. This being said, Astralis was on the rise after taking the previous Eleague championship in season two over Optic Gaming. After a bloodbath in the group stages, 8 teams prevailed. The matches set to occur in the playoffs were the following:
Astralis vs. Natus Vincere
Fnatic vs. Gambit Gaming
North vs. Virtus.pro
FaZe Clan vs. SK Gaming
I was disappointed to see these match-ups, unfortunately the two best teams were pitted against each other in the very first match. I was very confident that the winner of the Astralis vs. Natus Vincere match would go on to take the title, and I was correct. This being said, I expected the victors to be Natus Vincere. After a phenomenal group stage run, only dropping 13 rounds in 3 games, Na’Vi seemed like the clear favorite. To the surprise of many, Astralis plowed their way to the grand finals against Virtus.pro. In a bone-chilling series, Astralis were crowned champions after three hard fought maps. Virtus.pro took their map, Nuke, 16-12 in a somewhat convincing fashion. This did not stop Astralis from taking both Overpass and Train 16-14 each. It was truly an invigorating tournament and a pleasure to watch for any Counter-Strike fan.
The most recent update has many disappointed, myself included. Dust II, a beloved map among the community, was removed from the Active Duty Group map pool. While this has not stopped it from being the most played map in matchmaking, it has eliminated it from the professional scene. Unfortunately, like many of the updates Valve releases, this was an abrupt change made without the knowledge of the players. Although we will no longer be seeing the “rush B” tactics we all know and love, Dust II will always remain in our hearts.