After over three months of games, the fifth Polish Masters league season will come to an end this weekend. Four teams will come together to fight for the €15,500 prize pool, the Polish Masters title, and a spot in the upcoming EU Challenger League 2021 tournament.
Let’s take a look at the games that led to this point, the four finalists, and what to expect during this weekend’s games.
Kicking off back in May, the Polish Masters initially saw a double-round robin league take place over 14 play days, where the top four teams progressed onwards to the upcoming Finals.
The league began with all attention on Homeless (initially NOX) who came in as the standout favorite. The team swept into the lead with four regulation wins in a row, before suddenly hitting a snag against ESCA Gaming.
In that match, ESCA’s Groone excelled with two separate quad-kills, helping his team secure overtime, before starving Homeless on time and winning the match 8-6.
The following play day, Homeless lost once again, a 4-7 to xXx, in its only regulation defeat of the season. Here, two 1v2s in a row opened the game for xXx, before TOUDix took control of the match and secured a 1.30 Rating on Iana and Jager.
Homeless’ only other challenge had been Invicta, where GrZ’s 14-7 kill-death performance and Walus’ 14-8 count led to another 6-8 loss. But a 10-1-2-1 record was what Homeless finished with, thus topping the table at the end of the group stage.
Elsewhere, a battle for second raged between Invicta and ESCA from the third play day until the last. The teams swapped places four times throughout the season, before ESCA initially broke away to jump up into first. ESCA was unable to hold onto first after two unexpected losses, however, including a 0-7 loss against last-placed Illuminar Gaming.
Five wins in a row for Invicta was just enough in the end to catch up to ESCA, with the teams tied on points, but Invicta winning the tiebreaker to place second.
Finally, for most of the season, xXx and Revenge had been locked in battle for fourth place and the final spot at the LAN Finals.
While these two teams were tied all the way up to play day eight, a 7-3 win by xXx over Invicta helped it break away from Revenge. From here, Revenge struggled significantly in the second half of the season, only winning one game, and allowing Forsaken to get ahead and catch up to xXx. This charge was too late, however, with xXx ending three points clear of fifth to take the final playoff spot.
With this, the following four teams progress onto this weekend’s Finals:
Starting with Homeless, this roster won both the Polish Masters 2020 as well as the 2020 Winter Cup, and represented the nation on-course to a joint-fifth place in the 2020 EUCL season.
Since last year’s Challenger League season ended, this team has seen two new players enter its playing roster. Optyk moved from the bench to the main roster and Szagi joined from Cromcodiles, with the duo replacing Royal and Mekses, the bottom rated players from the EUCL group and playoff stages, respectively.
Now, with this new roster, Homeless has once again topped its national league to enter the playoff as the favourite to win it all.
Just four points behind Homeless was Invicta Gaming, which had also finished both the 2020 Masters Season and the Winter Cup second to Homeless under the devils.one organisation. This roster includes three players from the devils.one roster -- JiN, Grzegorzu, and Denio -- as well as SLAVGENT's Mefisto and Illuminar’s Walus.
While it managed the early 8-6 win against Homeless, it later lost 3-7 in the reverse fixture and suffered two further losses against the third and fourth placed teams of ESCA and xXx. As a result, it comes into the playoffs as the second seed.
ESCA tied with Invicta on points, but though it had a better head-to-head record (7-8, 7-5), it finished below Invicta due to a worse overall round differential at +22, compared to Invicta’s +26.
ESCA finishing in third was quite a surprise for most, with the team having been an underdog after signing A7s0n and Malczyn from the Winter Cup seventh-place team Avez. The team also stars three relatively unknown players with no prior national-tier experience, and the Czech duo of Groone and Hunt -- the only non-Polish players in the finals.
Seeded fourth is xXx, which was nine points adrift of third-placed ESCA, but two points ahead of fifth-placed Forsaken. With its initial matchup against Homeless, xXx will be under no expectations to progress.
This roster includes the ex-Polish champion Krzok, who leads a roster of mainly new and returning players to this tier of competition with the one exception of TOUDix. TOUDix had recently competed on the former Invicta Gaming roster and had topped the team stats-wise during the league phase.
Stats-wise, the group stage had a clear standout, as Homeless’ newest player -- Oskar “Szagi” Stabiński -- was also crowned the official MVP of the groups. Additionally, Invicta’s captain Mateusz “JiN” Romanowski also deserves a special mention for finishing the season as the team’s second-best player while also achieving 12 defuser plants in total.
The double-elimination finals will take place over the next two days at the Polsat Games Studios in Warsaw, which marks the first official national LAN in Europe to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of all in-person events last year.
The Polish Masters Finals will follow the following schedule (all times in CEST / UTC+2):
- 1PM -- Homeless vs xXx
- 4PM -- Invicta vs ESCA
- 7PM -- Lower-Bracket Semi-Final
- 1PM -- Upper-Bracket Final
- 4PM -- Lower-Bracket Final
- 7PM -- Grand-Final
The games will be cast in Polish by the same names we saw during the league stage -- Marcin "Marciu" Prusinowski, Karol "Alban" Pakosz, Patryk "k1kS" Cieszyński, Mikołaj "Łazarz" Boroński, Maciej "Sebol" Majewski, and Daniel "Yden" Zegar -- with Agnieszka Borysiuk and Tomek "Magvayer" Filipiuk hosting.