EnvyUS and Meta Athena both came in to their final match of the group on the back of win streaks. In Envy’s case, the European champs had yet to lose a match since Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod joined in season 1’s quarterfinals. As for Meta Athena, the newly qualified Korean squad were on a 17 match win streak, which started in season 1’s challenger league. With the two titans ending the group stage against one another, one side’s win streak was guaranteed to end tonight.
Since both won their matches against the BK Stars and MVP Infinity, the group’s top and bottom 2 were already locked in. Although both sides’ places in the playoffs were secured, the upcoming matchup would still decide who would earn the first seed, and who would earn the second.
Considering Envy’s massive pedigree, as well as the fact that meta Athena were debuting a new tank player, the North American squad were considered favorites to take the first seed.
Flash Lux VS. KongDoo Panthera looked like a pretty uneven matchup going in, considering the squads’ polar opposite seasons. For Flash Lux, this matchup wouldn’t have any impact on their end of season. With only a single map win to their name, the rookie squad were already locked into fourth place. As for Panthera, the squad hadn’t lost a match yet, and would advance even if they lost.
Although the match itself didn’t carry any weight in the standings, there was still a certain amount of pride associated with it. Whether it was Panthera’s string of wins, or Flash Lux’s string of losses, a miraculous win from Flash Lux would put an end to both streaks going into their respective playoff and relegation matches.
Although both teams had lost convincingly to KongDoo Uncia (who had already clinched first place in the group), their difference in map score versus Cloud 9 painted a worrying picture for CONBOX’s hopes for the season. Considering Afreeca had won their game against the North American squad with a score of 3-1, while KongDoo had lost with a reversed score of 1-3, the former seemed favored to win.
Previous performances aside, a win for Afreeca would guarantee safety from relegation matches, as well as put them in good standing to reach playoffs. In CONBOX’s case, a 3-0 or 3-0 win would open tiebreaker possibilities, while anything less would force them to play in relegation matches.
Considering how strong Afreeca Blue had historically been on control and assault maps, they came in to the matchup with high playoffs hopes.
Even though Afreeca Red were 0-2 going in to the day, group B’s fierce competition meant that they still had a fighting chance. Although Afreeca were already knocked out of the tournament, a 3-0 win would still shake up the other teams’ standings. While a loss would send Afreeca to the promotion tournament and put LW Blue into playoffs, a win would put Misfits into playoffs, and LuxuryWatch into relegation matches.
Hypothetical scenarios aside, LuxuryWatch were massive favorites in the matchup, considering the difference in performances. In LW Blue’s case, their team were still considered tournament favorites, and had looked competitive in their loss to Lunatic Hai. On the other hand, Afreeca Red had only shown a single dive strategy in both of their losses, and hadn’t yet managed to take a map.
Despite the difference in form, both sides remained confident in the pre-game segment. After each arguing for their contrasting play styles, the two teams’ Lucio players both predicted a 3-0 for themselves. As for twitch chat, focus was split between a 3-0 for LW, and a debate about Lucio’s role.
After both losing to EnvyUS and Meta Athena, BK Stars and MVP Infinity were left without a single point, going in to their third and final match. Although the two squads’ shared 0-2 records meant that neither could qualify for playoffs, they didn’t make the games any less meaningful for either side. Since the upcoming games would determine third and fourth place in group A, the winners would be safe to enter the next season, while the losers would need to play in the promotion tournament.
Even though both teams were coming in to the match with 0-2 match scores, their map scores showed a clear difference in seasons. For the newly introduced MVP crew, two map wins in both prior series showed that they came close to wins, even if they ultimately fell short. As for the former semifinalists of BK Stars, a single map win against EnvyUS showed a worrying state of play, and a fall from grace between seasons.
Considering the stark contrast in previous performances, MVP were predicted to take the day.
Considering how dominant KongDoo Uncia looked against both Fnatic and RunAway, group D’s competition had become a brawl for second place. Considering both Fnatic and Flash Lux suffered crushing defeats in their debut matches, a win in this matchup was vital for both sides.
For Fnatic, a victory would mean parity with RunAway’s 1-1 record, as both would have already suffered their mandatory loss to Uncia. For Flash Lux, even winning today would lead to rocky playoff chances, as they had yet to play KongDoo’s monstrous lineup, and had already fallen 3-0 to RunAway.
Coming in to this matchup, Both teams’ playoff hopes were on the line, albeit to different degrees. For Cloud 9, a second win would guarantee a spot in the round of eight, as CONBOX and Afreeca would both only be capable of 1-2 finishes. As for Afreeca Blue, a win would recover their season, allowing them to fight for second, rather than fight against relegation,in their final game.
Cloud 9 were considered favorites by most fans going in due to superior mechanics, but the majority had not ruled their opponents out. Afreeca were famously talented on control maps throughout season 1, although they were considered below average in other gamemodes. As a result, Blue’s main hopes rode on securing wins on their strong maps, while Cloud 9 aimed to steal those vital wins.