After a Regular Phase where Team Heretics were crowned champions, the Finals finally arrived in Madrid. Alongside the Heretics, x6tence and Vodafone Giants were the favourites to win the Spain Nationals Finals, and the largest part of the €20,000 prize pool. Missed the action? Here’s a roundup of what happened and who was crowned MVP.
The First Day had the most action, with six matches -- two of them following a best-of-three maps format.
Group Stage Game 1: Team Queso 7-5 Movistar Riders (Border)
The Finals kicked off on Border, with a clash between Team Queso and Movistar Riders. The match promised lots of ups and downs, as it was a game between the fourth and the fifth placed teams, respectively. Furthermore, Movistar Riders presented an entire new roster, as D4rk1 and Foskito made their professional debuts this weekend. If this wasn't enough, sakke was playing with some pain in one of his wrists. A long and hard-fought game initially saw Movistar Riders take a 2-0 lead, but Team Queso eventually came back to win 7-5.
Group Stage A Game 2: Team Heretics 8-7 Cream Esports (Consulate)
The following match was between Team Heretics and Cream Esports, expected to be one-sided as Team Heretics had finished the online section in first place, while Cream had been eighth. Playing on Consulate, the Cream Esports roster took Team Heretics to their limit, being three rounds up (4-1) and two just before teams switched sides, before Heretics mounted a comeback to get onto match point. Cream still had fight left in them, though, and prolonged the game, but Heretics would run out eventual 8-7 winners thanks to a final-round Illuzjionist spawn peek.
Group Stage B Game 1: Vodafone Giants Spain 7-5 Arctic Gaming (Consulate)
Next up was another exciting match between Vodafone Giants Spain and Arctic Gaming. The Spanish Giants were the only ones that had been close to Team Heretics and x6tence in the Regular Phase, after registering a league-best second-half showing (eight wins and a loss). Arctic, on the other hand had shown late improvement but were coming in with a new roster. Down 2-4 at the half, DriD lead his team well to overturn the deficit and eventually win 7-5.
Group Stage B Game 1: x6tence 7-3 Wizards (Clubhouse)
The first stage of the Finals came to an end with this match on Clubhouse, the backdrop for the two teams’ previous meeting in the Regular Phase (when Wizards had got a draw after getting the last kill of the match with a Bandit charge). Wizards, playing on the defensive side, chose to play on Bar and Stock and started off with a win despite a planted defuser, but would eventually fall to their more esteemed opponents 3-7.
Group A Elimination Match: Movistar Riders 2-0 Cream Esports (8-6 Consulate, 7-4 Clubhouse, Kafé: Not played)
After their losses against Team Queso and Team Heretics respectively, both Movistar Riders and Cream Esports were fighting to avoid elimination. The first match was Consulate, Movistar Riders' pick. With Cream dominating initially, the Riders would eventually turn things around to force overtime and take the map 8-6.
Later on Clubhouse, Movistar took a comfortable 4-2 lead on defense despite the lack of a hard-breacher ban, and while Cream would put up some resistance with two round wins after Movistar Riders were up 6-2, they would eventually fall 4-7 after a failed CCTV/Cash Room defence, and crash out.
Group B Elimination Match: Arctic Gaming 2-0 Wizards (7-2 Bank, 7-3 Coastline, Consulate: Not played)
The last match of the first day featured Arctic and Wizards, where we would see another team leaving the Finals. The first map was Bank, where Arctic began on the defensive side. Arctic Gaming had showed off an improvement during the last stages of the Regular Phase with an impressive first half, and seemed to be replicating it here, winning five out of the six defensive rounds. Wizards, though, could not copy Arctic's good first half and they lost two of their three defences to lose Bank 2-7.
The second match was played on Coastline, where Wizards gave Arctic Gaming a tougher fight. After a very close first half that ended 3-3, the teams switched sides and Arctic began to dominate as they had on the first map. Thanks to two clutches by Wild Mike, a 1v2 and another 1v1, and an almost flawless round, Arctic Gaming took four rounds in a row to win the map and eliminate Wizards.
Now with only six teams left, it was time to decide the four semi-finalists. The day kicked off with the Winners’ Matches, Team Queso vs Team Heretics, and Vodafone Giants vs x6tence.
Group A Winner's Match: Team Queso 2-7 Team Heretics (Border)
Playing on Border, Team Heretics were the favourites to win after having finished top in the Regular Phase, where they had won both matches against Team Queso by scores of 7-5 and 7-3. This was also a special match for Iluzjonist, as he was a member of Team Queso during the first half of the online season.
Team Heretics got off to the best start possible. Starting on defense, the boys coached by Rivas won four consecutive rounds -- the last one thanks to a 1v2 clutch by Jwey, the team’s Regular Phase MVP. Team Queso trimmed some of the distance, but as both teams switched sides, Team Heretics had a 5-1 lead. A 3k by Therox gave hope to his team, but Team Heretics finished the game with two more rounds to close things out and secure their ticket to the semi-finals.
Group B Winner's Match: Vodafone Giants 7-3 x6tence (Kafé)
Next, Vodafone Giants and x6tence featured in the first derby of the weekend in the last Winners' Final. Playing on Kafé, a map well-known for being defender-sided, Vodafone Giants started on attack, putting them on the back foot.
The game began with a chaotic defence on Bar, where eight out of the ten players were still alive with 20 seconds still left in the round. The round ended with the defuser planted and a 1v1 ensuing between baroz and Juk4, eventually leading to the latter winning out the tense battle.
Both teams were putting up a good fight, but a near-flawless round from the Giants seemed to tilt the scale in their favour. The Aliens (x6tence) once again tried the Kitchen defense, where DriD got to plant in a 1v2 situation, but the Giants were still the winners after a successful post-plant retake.
Building on, Vodafone Giants also won the following two rounds, going 4-2 up into the second half. Although x6tence won an offensive round, a Giants leaded by baroz -- who ended the match with 15 kills -- closed things out, winning 7-3 against the second-placed team.
Group A Decider Match: Movistar Riders 2-1 Team Queso (7-4 Kafe, 5-7 Consulate, 7-5 Coastline)
The first match of the day following a best-of-three maps system was between Movistar Riders and Team Queso in a rematch from the previous day. In that match, Team Queso had won against Riders, but this time, things would change.
Team Queso started off things on defence, the stronger side of the map. However, it was Movistar Riders were the ones to taken an important 4-2 lead after the first half. The blue team added another round after winning on Bar and, despite some resistance, eventually closed out the map 7-4.
Now on Consulate, the roster of Team Queso seemed to wake up as they won five out of the six offensive rounds, swapping sides with a strong 5-1 lead. Although Movistar Riders almost pulled off a great comeback, Team Queso secured match point on the tenth round (6-4), losing the next round but winning the map in the final round of regular time, pushing things to Coastline.
The third and last map of the match was played on Coastline, where Movistar Riders started on the defensive side. Team Queso got the early advantage as they went up 3-1, but a 3k by Foskito at his first LAN and another good round from the Riders' levelled things before switching sides. Now on attack, the Riders took control of the match and featured a successful comeback. After 35 rounds, Movistar Riders got their tickets to the semi-finals, where they would meet Vodafone Giants.
Group B Decider Match: x6tence 2-0 Arctic Gaming (Clubhouse 7-5, Border 7-5, Bank: Not Played)
After the unexpected win from Giants against x6tence, the Aliens had to face their biggest enemy: the Bo3 format. Their opponents were Arctic Gaming, the first team that had been beaten by Vodafone Giants.
Starting on defence, x6tence won four out of the six first rounds to get a strong 4-2 lead. Arctic Gaming won the next round after a very good passage of play from Ghost, who completed a 1v2 clutch with Valkyrie. However, after that play, the Aliens got control of the match, winning the following two rounds, which meant they were on match point. After two attempts to finish the match, a Billordo clutch against Flama with the defuser already planted gave his team the win.
The following map, though, was chaos. While x6tence won the first defensive rounds, putting them well on the road to a win, but a clutch by GroLazZ against WeskeRR and a double kill by Ghost were key as Arctic got to survive until the twelfth round. With the scoreline at a tense 6-5, WeskeRR -- who was playing with only 1hp -- was alone against Flama. With only ten seconds left, WeskeRR had to push Flama, who took the wrong decision to follow him instead of waiting for the end of the round and led to the Aliens’ captain taking the win and sending his team to the semi-finals.
With only two Semi-Finals and the Grand Final left, Sunday was the most awaited day. The winner of the Grand Final would win the First Edition of the Spain Nationals.
Semi-Final 1: x6tence 2-0 Team Heretics (7-0 Consulate, 7-2 Bank, Border: Not Played)
The semi-finals kicked off with what some people expected to be the Grand Fina gamel: the champions of the Regular Phase, Team Heretics, facing the second best roster of the league, x6tence. Starting on defence on Consulate, x6tence won the first round and followed it up with a second after a 1v2 clutch by Kuriboh, who killed Jwey with a Maestro Evil Eye. The Aliens kept their momentum and went on to the Piano defense twice, alongside two further round wins, to complete a flawless defense and were able to keep up the momentum to complete a crushing 7-0 victory.
Led by WeskeRR, x6tence showed that they had learnt from from how Heretics had played during the Regular Phase, springing open a more offensive style, out-aggressing and surprising Team Heretics on their own map as they headed to x6tence’s own map.
The Aliens play style was the same during the second map -- on the first round, WeskeRR pulled off a Nokk push from Garage and killed Team Heretics' Maestro to cleave open the defense. Team Heretics once again tried to defend CCTV, but x6tence knew exactly how to neutralize their game style with another almost-flawless round. Again and again went x6tence, before Team Heretics finally seemed to wake up as they won the next two rounds. However, on defense -- x6tence’s favourite side on Bank -- it was all about to come to an end. Without breaking much of a sweat, x6tence won the following three rounds while defending Open Area, CEO Office, and CCTV, with a 3k by Billordo with Kaid on the last round to send his team to the Grand Final.
Semi-Final 2: Movistar Riders 2-1 Vodafone Giants (Clubhouse 7-3, Kafe 4-7, Consulate 7-1)
The second match of the day was a replay of the last ESL Masters Grand Final where, after five maps played, Movistar Riders had been crowned champions. As such, this was the perfect opportunity for Vodafone Giants to take their revenge. The series started off on Clubhouse, Movistar Riders' pick -- with the Giants on defense. However, the first blow was struck by the Movistar Riders on the basement defence, when sakke, stuck in a 1v1 situation, planted the defuser to kill baroz mere seconds later.
With the first half ending in a draw, a very good result for Movistar Riders, Welshy pulled off a 3k to begin the second half of the match. A double kill by chOi and a triple by sakke gave the fifth round to Movistar, before the Riders clinched match point in the next. Vodafone Giants couldn't react well enough to the Riders' dominance on Club and lost another round, and thus the map.
Moving onto Kafe, Vodafone Giants' pick, DriD’s team felt way more comfortable and won four out of the six offensive rounds, before taking the following two rounds to put themselves on match point (6-2), winning the map after two rounds of pushback from Movistar Riders was snuffed out in the eleventh round.
The last map was Consulate, a map that had been played more times in these Spain Nationals Finals than any other. This time, Movistar Riders were the ones that began the match on the defensive side -- something that they took advantage of as they won five out of the six rounds they played on. Despite being new to the roster, Foskito and D4rk1 had clearly improved the roster with very little practice before the Finals. Also of note were Sakke's performances were top-tier as well, even though he was playing while injured.
The only offensive round win for the Giants came on the second round of the map, however, where even Foskito could not pull off a 1v3 clutch. However, Movistar Riders took control of the match and won the following six rounds, winning the match 7-1 and booking their tickets to the Grand Final.
Grand Final: x6tence 2-1 Movistar Riders (Border 7-4, Kafe 4-7, Consulate 7-4)
Finally, it was time for the match everyone had been waiting for. Movistar Riders and x6tence started off on Border, later going to Kafé and Consulate as they fought to determine which team would win the Spain Nationals championship.
Kicking things off would be x6tence on their own map, starting off on attack. As expected, the first round kicked things off with a bang, with an almost perfect first round from the Aliens, and Movistar Riders would then respond in kind as the back-and-forth well and truly began.
Heading into the half, x6tence would be up 4-2, an advantage that they would not lose during the second half of the game. After conceding a round when they were up 5-2, x6tence finally got to match point and, despite dropping a round, finally secured the first map 7-4 after an near-flawless round.
Now on Kafe, x6tence started the match on defence. Juk4 and Kuriboh were key in the first round, but Movistar Riders took the lead later with three consecutive rounds. Conscious that Kafé is a defensive map, however, the Aliens pushed and won the following two rounds to level the score. However, Movistar Riders were still in control of the match and won the next three rounds, pushing the match to match point (6-3). Although Wispy kept hopes alive for his team, Billordo was left alone in a 1v3 situation that he couldn't salvage and Movistar Riders got the win to force the third map.
The last map was Consulate, and while the Riders took control of the match in a very stylish fashion, they would be unable to maintain it. Movistar Riders would initially be the ones with the lead, mainly thanks to Foskito, who could usually be found rappelling on the balcony windows with Ash' holographic sight cutting off all the angles and rotations, not unlike Dan doing during the Raleigh Major.
As such, the Riders would be the one with a 4-2 lead, but a rehost would help x6tence to get their heads back in the game and start to mount a comeback. Round after round went to the Aliens, and they not only tied the score but went on to win three more, including a final one on Garage. 7-4, 4-7, 7-4, and x6tence were the Spanish champions, with Juk4 the MVP of the tournament, and so fell the curtain on the inaugural Spanish Nationals Finals.
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