Image via Ubisoft/@joao_ferreria
The first four maps of the upper bracket semifinals all went to an 8-6 scoreline, including the first two maps of the Soniqs-Team Empire matchup.
The first pair of maps were won by TSM FTX in a matchup against Team Liquid. The North American side sent the Brazilians to the lower bracket. The next two came from the Soniqs-Empire matchup.
Through the first map of the Soniqs-Empire series, it looked like there was going to be a similar neck-and-neck result in this match. Soniqs rebounded from a commanding 6-3 Empire lead on the first map, Coastline, to take the map 8-6. The map was punctuated by multiple man advantage losses on Empire's side, Soniqs adapted and punished them extremely well.
Empire won a hotly contested map two, Clubhouse affair by an 8-6 scoreline. Soniqs nearly came back from a large deficit in this map as well, after their attacking half Empire was winning at a 4-2 pace. Soniqs equalized, but it was the Russian side that triumphed in overtime 8-6, not the North Americans.
The expectation was that the third map would be thrilling, a fitting conclusion to such a hotly-contested series. It wasn't meant to be.
Villa wasn't as close, not by a longshot. Empire raced out to a dominating 6-0 defensive half en route to a 7-0 victory, knocking Soniqs to the lower bracket following the 2-1 win.
"As for me, I was really nervous during the Coastline," Danila "dan" Dontsov said following the match. "And I feel that was the main problem, why we lost so many rounds when we were like four-vs-two."
Pablo "Gryxr" Rebeil has been the statistically dominant player for Soniqs the entire tournament, and his 17 kills on Coastline propelled Soniqs to a huge victory. However, his statistics from the entire match show that Empire did an excellent job containing him. Gryxr only had 14 kills across the other two maps, pedestrian numbers compared to his normal brilliance throughout the tournament.
For Empire, the big factor statistically was Artur "ShepparD" Ipatov. He nailed down a 1.27 SiegeGG Rating over the course of the match and led Empire in kills. However, the balanced Russian stats tell a story about the entire team's effort. No Empire player had less than 20 kills over the course of the best-of-three match. Dmitry "Scyther" Semenov was the team's lowest-rated player ... with a floor Rating of .91, which by all metrics is a good showing.
As a team, Empire bowled over Soniqs on Villa. "I think the key to my success was my insane teammates," dan said of the Villa romp. "I died first, like, I think all of the six rounds. First round, JoyStiCK did insane double kill, very important. Second round, Scyther. Third round, I think ShepparD. Then, Always."
With the victory, Empire secured their second 2-1 victory of the tournament over Soniqs. The first one came in the group stage. Empire advance to play another North American team in the upper bracket finals next -- TSM FTX. Soniqs drop to the lower bracket, where they will face the winner of the DarkZero vs FaZe Clan match slated for later today.
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