With a number of national and sub-regional tournaments taking place around Europe each week, most of which offer Challenger League qualification spots, it can be hard to keep a track of all the Siege happening in the region and so here's a quick rundown of all the action you may have missed:
PG Nationals Finals - SMS makes Challenger League
The PG Nationals Finals took place last weekend, as the Samsung Morning Stars and Italian Gaming Project competed for the title of Italian champions. The two were also eager to take the game and join LowLandLions, PENTA, ex-forZe, and Sector One in 2020's FACEIT Challenger League.
The single Best-of-Five was swept by the favourites of SMS as they took the game in a straight 7-1, 7-3, 7-4 scoreline. You can read more about the Finals in an upcoming article in the next few days.
Samsung Morning Stars -- j3n4 , SirBoss , Keenan , Fratelli , Hunter , Neska , and MrBox (their coach and analyst)
Spain Nationals S2 - Riders get crucial win against Heretics
After Vodafone Giants’s recent results, Team Heretics and Movistar Riders were left alone in a fierce battle to be crowned the best team in the regular phase. The prize would be an extra €1,000, plus escaping from sharing a group with the Giants in the Finals, which would definitely make things better, as the three teams were the favourites to win the competition and take the Challenger League spot.
As such, this game between the Heretics and the Riders was crucial. Heretics was heading into the match after losing its very first match the week before, meanwhile Riders had a 6-1-0 record during the second leg. It was difficult to say who would win the match, as these were probably the best two sides in the country.
The game was played on Kafe, with the Heretics starting on the offensive side. The Riders’ first defence was in Bar/Cocktail and, as we have seen recently from them, they played Oryx with the Jäger-Wamai combo to protect Mute’s jammers while burning immense utility.
This strategy had not worked for them before, as it had a blind spot, which allowed Kuriboh (Thermite) to open the Freezer wall inside the first minute without using any of the attackers’ utility. However, Dark1 stopped the attackers’ final push with a 4k in order to give his team the first round.
The following two rounds ended in offensive wins as Team Heretics successfully planted the defuser in Kitchen -- both times -- which gave them the lead. Back in Bar/Cocktail, Movistar Riders adapted the Freezer wall strat in order to avoid the previous mistake. This clearly worked, as Heretics opened it with only 30 seconds remaining, which was key as the attackers didn’t have time to build a solid push to the site.
After their two previous losses in Kitchen, the Movistar Riders decided to play in Library, which proved to be a good decision as they restored their lead. However, with both Cocktail and Library blocked, it was time to defend again in Kitchen, which Heretics once again won. With the half at 3-3, Heretics were the favorites to win the game. The seventh round saw a bunch of crazy plays as Juk4 got a Caveira interrogation that revealed just where Billordo was planting.
The following round was even crazier, though, as the Riders decided to rush the vacant Kitchen site and planted the defuser with a mere minute down. After the defenders won the ninth round in Kitchen, though, Team Heretics went back to defend in Bar/Cocktail and re-introduced Caveira in their lineup. The Brazilian operator was once again used to protect white stairs but, this time, the result wasn’t the same.
Although the Heretics started the round on the right foot by killing the Hibana inside the first 20 seconds, the Riders were able to plant the defuser in a 3v5 situation and take the round.
The following two rounds were then also won by the Riders, as they won the eleventh round after an amazing play by Foskito at the white stairs that gave his team the chance to plant. The decisive 12th round, played in Kitchen, was won by Movistar Riders after leaving Juka in a 1v2 situation, giving Movistar Riders the three points and the first seed for the Finals.
This was also the last week of regular phase, as the eight first teams have progressed to the Finals, giving us the following groups:
6 French League S2: BDS demolishes Tempra to stay top
Coming into the game with a 4-0-0 record in the European League (now 4-0-1) and a 2-0-0 in the 6 French League, BDS Esport was the clear favourite in this French League game. Tempra Esports was the foe who needed to be felled, and had not started well in neither the EUL (2-1-1), nor in the 6 French League (1-0-1).
The match, played on Clubhouse, was a quick one, with some pretty one-sided rounds. The first one of them was BDS’ first defence in Armory/Church, as the team lead by Shaiiko left Renshiro in an impossible 1v4.
The second round saw another 1v4, but this time it was BriD who had the almost impossible mission to stop the attackers’ final push. Call him Ethan Hunt if you wish, though, as Europe’s perhaps strongest clutch player made it happen.
After killing Voy with the Smoke’s SMG, BriD had enough time to reload and hit Dirza’s and Shiinka’s head with a single 17-round magazine, and with only four seconds left on the clock, P4’s only option had been to kill BriD. However, the BDS player had no problem in stopping his opponent with what’s by far the best shotgun in the game.
The following three rounds ended with Tempra planting the defuser, with BDS only being able to disable it in one of these. Nevertheless, the first half still ended with a flawless round for BDS in CCTV/Cash. The following rounds were largely one-sided, though, as Tempra won another defense but couldn’t do anything to stop the rest of BDS’ attacks. The EUL and 6FL leaders successfully planted in two of the rounds, finishing with at least four men alive in all the offensive rounds they won.
The rest of the matches didn’t spring any surprises, except from Vitality’s game as the EUL team lost to BeKind in 5-7. PENTA dealt a 7-3 loss to Orbit, while the Maestria and Fawkes game ended in a draw, making BDS the only team to have a perfect record. PENTA and Vitality follow in second and third place, respectively, while Tempra is fifth just behind BeKind.
UK Ireland Nationals - MnM stunned by Cowana
This week saw the kick-off of the new UK and Irish Nationals, which acts as a replacement for the ESL Premiership tournament and offers its victor a spot in the upcoming Challenger League. While the ex-Pro League champions and three-times ex-Premiership victors of Na'Vi came in as the favourites to win the tournament, attention was on the reigning Premiership champions and ex-Challenger League lineup of MnM Gaming (previously known as CR4ZY) to take the CL position.
MnM Gaming -- Blurr , dats , Nathan , Jonka , and Fonkers
Cowana Gaming -- Anarchic , Grizzly , Rendy , Sloth , and GorgoNa
The best-of-one on Kafe started off as a close matchup between the two teams, with MnM taking the lead twice on rounds one and three with Cowana catching up each time. From this point, MnM completely fell off, each round they lost their gunfights on entry, putting them in a weak position throughout the rest of the round. Across the map, not a single loss came due to a clutch, with just a single large multi-kill deciding a round across the map on round five.
In the end, the Cowona players of Grizzly and Sloth excelled on the scoreboard as they went 9-2 and 14-6, respectively, giving them a 7-2 victory. Next week, MnM will face another tall obstacle in the form of Natus Vincere which, considering this loss, will be a mountain to overcome.
Following this game, we saw Na'Vi's debut in the league, as they decimated another one of the league favourites in Vexed Gaming 7-0 to take first place in the standings.
Elsewhere in Europe
This week saw a major matchup between Team Secret and G2 Esports, which Secret took in a very confident 7-2 scoreline on Oregon. The only two rounds G2 won were on rounds one (as they took a Kitchen defence on time) and five (as they cut down the attackers before they got in the building). This was the first time we saw G2 go to Oregon, while it was Secret's third attempt on the map after losing to BDS 7-1 and Na'Vi in the EU League.
With this, DIVIZON ends the first half of the season as the league leaders as they aim to also secure a Challenger League position. The next top non-EU League team is FACT down in fourth place, who will be aiming to rectify this as they followed up this week's game by bringing in two new players in the Austrian of Slypher and a German substitute in Whiteball.
This week, the top two teams in the league -- SLAVGENT and Invicta Gaming -- faced each other to see who will become the favourites to take the title and Challenger League spot as we approached the mid-season point.
While the two teams are close in the standings, there was very little competition in this game as SLAVGENT seemed like the better team throughout. Aided by their new Israeli analyst of Gunny, they took down Invicta 7-3, with the lowest rating on the team being 1.13 compared to Invicta's highest of 0.95.
Finally, the 12th of 14 play days took place in the Nordic Championship as second-placed Granit defeated third-place GiFu eSports, putting them as in a prime position to take this league's CL spot. This result now guarantees Granit and Chaos a spot in the playoffs to be met by GiFu, Ambush, GODSENT, or GamerLegion.
Keep an eye out for weekly coverage of these leagues as they continue and we find out which other teams will join LowLandLions, PENTA, ex-forZe, Samsung Morning Stars, and Sector One in the 2020 FACEIT Challenger League.