Year 4 Team of the Year: Team Empire

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Team Empire are your Team of the Year after winning Pro League Finals and the Raleigh Major back-to-back to start Year 4.

The best lineup the game has seen since the decline of the G2 dynasty is Team Empire.

The Russian squad ended Year 3 on an upwards trajectory, reaching the grand final of the Six Invitational. However, they would not reach their true peak until the roster winning this award was properly formed: two weeks before the end of the online portion of Season 9. The team inexplicably replaced Shockwave with Dan, an unproven young player, with a shot at a LAN looming. They had already clinched a spot in Milan, but even so, the decision was widely questioned in the community. This was further reinforced by a 4-7 loss to the similarly LAN-attending LeStream Esport exacerbated calls that the change was a mistake, and a final-week victory over mousesports did little to ease the criticism.

At the Season 9 Finals, the team would put all the doubters to rest. The team beat both Darkzero and Fnatic in relatively convincing fashion to earn a spot in the grand final against Evil Geniuses, who were looking for redemption and to finally win another title for North America. 

EG won the first map in a 7-5, and map two was Oregon, an Evil Geniuses staple that they had only recently lost a world-famous winning streak on. Things looked bleak for Empire, especially after facing a 3-6 match point. What happened next is often blamed on Canadian's famous "CZ on white stairs" play, but it was also a tremendous show of mental fortitude by the only recently promoted PL newcomers. Many lesser teams would crumble facing a similar situation, but the Russian Machine kept grinding, and eventually they were able to secure a series win. Dan, their once-questioned new addition, was awarded MVP of the event. 

Following this, there was a debate over Empire's status as the best team in the world. Many fans still claimed that G2 was owed the top spot due to their history of dominance, saying that their weakened form online was not indicative of an overall decline. Empire would still need to knock off G2 directly in order to be universally recognized as number one. 

They would get exactly that chance at the next Major, held in Raleigh. The two powerhouses were on a collision course, set for a legendary rematch in the grand final. Once they got there, the best of five was something special. The two European titans went blow-for-blow through the first three maps, each one going to either maximum regulation rounds or overtime. It ended on Coastline, the map Empire had heartbreakingly lost 10-12 in the previous Invitational final, where the Russians finally broke G2's back and ran away with the win 7-3. 

This cemented Empire's status as the best team in the world and the team to finally end the G2 era. In the remainder of the year the team remained strong, but was unable to continue their previous success, missing the Season 10 Finals and exiting in the group stage of the Six Invitational. Even so, they still left an undeniable mark on Year 4 and forever changed the course of Siege history.

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Stay tuned for more awards, you can check out the full list in the awards hub and make sure to let us know what you think about each one on social media!