The Euro Cup is the first tournament of its kind, and it was held in Italy this weekend. The winners, runners-up or leaders of the national cups of France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland, Germany, and the Benelux region were invited to compete for their slice of a €10,000 prize pool.
As the only Pro League team in attendance, PENTA Sports were the obvious favourites going into the cup, however, with significant experience and expectations behind them, both Giants Gaming and Team Empire were keen contenders for the title.
The Friday matches saw just two games be streamed from the main stage which saw both the home teams fall at the first hurdle. The Italian Challenger League team of EnD Gaming fell against the surprisingly impressive German team of Team Prismatic who, despite limited experience and multiple recent roster changes, won their match 6-4 to book a place into the semi-finals. Here they were met by PENTA Sports, who had just defeated SLAVGENT, the Polish Champions, while Giants Gaming would play Team Empire in the other semi-final.
Team Empire vs Giants Gaming drew in a massive audience as two of the biggest up-and-coming teams in Siege faced off. Excluding a forfeit against EnD Gaming in the Challenger League, Team Empire had yet to lose a single game since their Paris Major loser’s bracket final against “i don’t know” (now Team Secret) back in July, whereas Giants Gaming had not played a single game against international opponents since their reformation a few months ago.
The matchup itself saw a fairly close game in its first half with neither team creating a significant lead, however, when Empire went onto defence, they were unable to slow down the advance from Giants and kept on losing players early, eventually losing the game by a 6-3 scoreline.
The second semi-final saw the German lineup of Team Prismatic try to create another upset by knocking out the current fifth-placed team in Europe. While Prismatic did manage to take some rounds off of PENTA, going down 1-4 on attack meant they had too far to climb back from and so, as Panix explained, seemed simply outmatched throughout the game:
This set up a winners bracket final between Vodafone Giants and PENTA Sports, where the teams traded rounds back and forth constantly. Neither team was able to gain a two-round advantage until round 10, in which Giants’ classic Montagne/Glaz push strategy allowed them to push the site very effectively while a double kill from sakke on Ying effectively ended the round and game for PENTA Sports:
Despite losing against Vodafone Giants, the losers’ bracket was a dream run for Team Empire as they simply demolished their opponents.
Their first game was against EnD Gaming -- the only surviving Italian team at this point. While EnD seemed in control for a number of rounds, the sheer fragging power and mechanical skill of the whole of the Russian side was too much for them; a fact highlighted best in round number four as seen below in which karzheka pulled off an ace despite being down in a 2v5 situation. After going down 4-0 EnD managed to win two further rounds to end the game, sending Italy’s last hope home empty-handed.
In that game, karzheka secured an astonishing 11 kills to just 3 deaths, though the rest of his team were determined not to be overshadowed. In the next round against Team Prismatic, JoyStiCK achieved a k-d spread of 14-3 while karzheka still managed an 8-2 spread to yield two incredibly impressive performances which eliminated the German hopefuls in the only 6-0 of the tournament.
This set up a losers bracket final between PENTA Sports and Team Empire -- a game which many people expected to be the grand final. Empire went 4-1 up on defence which led the casting pair of mzo and Flynn to effectively write off PENTA’s chances. However, PENTA managed to come back and, thanks to an ace by Panix on round 10, brought us to the first and only overtime of the whole tournament. Nevertheless, standout plays by JoyStiCK yet again proved to be too much for their opponents as they took down the “French” representatives of PENTA Sports 7-5.
And so after three days of competitions, the Euro Cup came down to Spain vs Russia, a match between the two returning contender teams.
Team Empire: karzheka, JoyStiCK, ShepparD, Shockwave and Scyther
Vodafone Giants: DriD, LioN, baroz, sakke and vASS1LYY
As a rematch of a game seen earlier in this very tournament, the only thing the analysts were sure of was that this would be a close matchup -- a prediction which flew right out of the window from the start. Empire continued their unstoppable march as seen in their previous games, which was simply too much for Giants as they won just a single round in Map 1.
The second map started off pretty closely with Empire acquiring a 3-2 lead at halftime, however, just as it looked like Giants were going to tie the score, JoyStiCK pulled out one of his signature Ash clutches in this incredible 1v3 situation.
Empire eventually won the map 6-3 and thus the game 2-0, meaning they claim their €5,000 winnings as well as the title of ESL Euro Cup 2018 Champions for themselves and their nation of Russia.
The success of teams such as Empire, Giants and Prismatic in this tournament is a real testament to the quality of teams seen in these rarely highlighted lower level leagues, a fact which shows that the future of Siege in the European region is as bright as ever.
The roster of Team Empire is now the reigning Euro Cup, Russian and CCS Champions, attended the Six Invitational, were two maps away from the Paris Major and are set to become the European Challenger League Champions as well. You can watch this incredibly successful team play next in Challenger League this evening against 3DMAX and Overtime eSports as they aim to get another step closer to Season 9 of Pro League.
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