After a seven-week-long regular season followed by a knockout playoff the four teams of Team Secret, Unnamed, Vexed Gaming and MnM Gaming UK met in Leicester, England, to fight it out for the top share of the £10,500 prize pool, the ESL Premiership title and this wonderful trophy:
Semi-Final - Team Secret vs Unnamed
As Unnamed includes two ex-Pros - Jugger and TankNinjaz - a reigning ESL Premiership title holder - M4DMAN - and a Spanish Masters titleholder - Kaktus - this matchup involved easily the two most experienced teams in the league with both sides individual skill and teamplay shining brightly throughout the game.
With the guest analyst Shas joining the casters of Xrtroika and Demo for this game we saw what was by far the closest matchup of the day despite its deceiving 2-0 scoreline. Despite both teams managing to pull out multiple round winning individual plays, the game continued to swing back and forth with neither team gaining any real advantage in the round count throughout.
Both Clubhouse and Consulate eventually went the complete distance ending 7-6 7-6 in Team Secret’s favour by the skin of their teeth with it ultimately being just the fragging prowess of LeonGids that put the Pro League team ahead.
Semi-Final - Vexed Gaming vs MnM Gaming UK
For the second game, Shas stepped down from the casting desk to watch his fellow G2 member, Ferral, play for Vexed Gaming on the main stage against MnM Gaming. This MnM Gaming roster, however, is an altered one compared to the lineup which secured a number of close games against Pro League teams at DreamHack Winter last week as both Doki and f0nkers had been loaned out to MnM just for that event; now, for this event, Doki had returned to his old team of Vexed eager to take down his recent teammates. Replacing Shas as the analyst for this game was Pengu followed by LeonGids who both provided a very high level of player and game analysis throughout making the game just that bit more interesting to watch:
While both maps were reasonably close, MnM simply couldn't control Doki on the Ash as he effectively tore through his opponents round after round making him easily one of the standout players of the tournament and booking his team a place in the grand-finals 6-4, 6-4.
Grand-Final - Team Secret vs Vexed Gaming
Team Secret - meepeY, leonGids, Lacky, sTiZze and Elemzje
Vexed Gaming - Doki, Jesus, NotPie, zak and Ferral
And so the ESL Premiership grand-finals came down to Team Secret vs Vexed Gaming - a game which involved old friendships and teammates from across teams. After Team Secret’s close call in their semi-final, the favourites definitely looked beatable and after the stellar performance seen by Vexed Gaming in the previous game, they would’ve been optimistic about their chances.
Map one of this best-of-five map game started out as close as we expected with the first half ending in a 3-2 split to Secret on defence but as we went into the second half Vexed inexperience as a full roster shown through while Secret’s advanced coordination that they have been practising for two seasons now allowed them to take a commanding lead. This wasn’t a walkover, however, as Doki in particular on multiple occasions stomped all over Secret’s coordinated tactics but was unable to gain a round alone ending the map 6-2.
Map two was a remarkably similar affair as an initially close competition breaking open in the second half, however, this time instead of Doki creating the highlights, sTiTze stepped up hugely for his team particularly during the second half allowing them to win ¾ of their defensive rounds and take the map 6-3.
Map 3 began quite differently compared to the two previous ones as vexed managed to win four back to back rounds on the defence, however, as STiZze went back onto defence and onto Smoke, his amazing performance continued as he managed to clutch multiple rounds with him almost securing a 1v5 of his own.
This defensive performance allowed Secret to mount an amazing comeback dragging Vexed to overtime where, despite Vexed getting the lucky coin flip and being able to defend twice, Secret won in yet another 7-6 scoreline, taking the series in a clean 3-0 and winning the ESL Premiership Winter title!
Team Secret went into this tournament as the clear favourites however after half the regular season games for Secret ended with a single round or fewer score difference as well as two nail-biting games at the LAN Finals the British scene certainly has proved they have the ability to fight with the best. The reigning British champions will next play in Pro League when Season 9 eventual starts while the ESL Premiership will likely return with a Spring season early next year - keep up to date right here at SiegeGG!