Image via Ubisoft/@kirill_vision
On paper, Team Empire might have lost the map ban phase.
They allowed Bank through and selected Kafe, two maps that TSM FTX excel on. Empire are no slouches, but it seemed questionable to allow two of your opponents' best maps to be the first two maps of the match.
According to Danil "JoYStiCK" Gabov, it was a calculated move, made after Team Empire improved their map pool during the offseason.
JoYStiCK explained that earlier in the year, Empire realized they needed to work on their map pool, so they did. They have a degree of comfortability on every map.
Their comfortability on Bank ended up allowing them to win the series.
Empire went up early on TSM FTX, winning three defensive rounds on the opening half, a big win considering TSM FTX's strong bank attacks. From there, they went on to win the map 7-4. "On the previous tournament, we have [a] not very good map pool," JoYStiCK said.
TSM FTX stormed back on Kafe, winning 7-2 to push the map to the decider: Coastline.
The action was frentic, but a stalwart Empire defense ended up being the deciding factor again. Empire won three of their defenses on the attacker-friendly map, and closed out the map in a 7-5 scoreline.
Statistically, the entire best-of-three was won in the margins. Two of the top three slayers in the match were JoYStiCK and Matthew "Achieved" Solomon, who each finished with 26 kills. The pair were trumped by Jason "Beaulo" Doty, who finished with 27. In the final numbers, no team pulled away from the other, which tells a story of close rounds, but not necessarily a close first pair of maps.
With the win, Empire advance to the Six Invitational 2022 grand finals, their second grand finals as this roster. Empire reached the 2019 SI grand finals as well. "When you are going...to the grand final, it's all about your mentality," JoYStiCK said. "...If you see a 5-6 score, and you're not scared to do something that your opponent d[oesn't] expect from you right now ... it's all about mentality."
Empire take their unflappable mentality and demeanor to the grand finals, scheduled for tomorrow. TSM FTX drop to the lower bracket where they will face the winner of the MiBR vs FaZe Clan match, which will be played later today.
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