While WESG got off to a clumsy start and had its buildup mired by an unfortunate number of visa issues, when the games finally began it proved itself to still be a compelling event. Its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in particular has stolen the show.
Featuring a number of world-class teams and recently crowned champions, it has featured an excellent blend of storylines and good ol’ fashioned CS:GO action.
With just four teams remaining and the grand finals less than a day away, however, it’s worth taking a look over who is still left, and how each of them got to this point.
Grand Finals Match: Fnatic (SWE) vs. Space Soldiers (TUR)
In an event that was chock full of upsets, Fnatic was the one thing that went according to plan. Hot off its first-place performance at the IEM Katowice, the Swedish team made good on its favorite status with an emphatic run to the grand finals.
At no point during the event did Fnatic seem off its game. Starting with a 3-0 run in the first phase of the group stages, the squad dominated the tier-two organizations it came across while still consistently besting other established teams. It sealed a playoff berth by once again coming out on top of its group on Friday, and knocked off MVP PK and Team One to reach the grand finals.
Now, the only thing standing between the team and the $800,000 top prize is a familiar face in Space Soldiers.
Despite flying under the radar, Turkey’s Space Soldiers has quietly been one of the world’s better teams in recent months. Since earning a spot in the ELEAGUE Major by winning the Europe Minor in November 2017, SS has acquitted itself well at both the regional and international level with solid performances at smaller LAN tournaments and a respectable 9th-11th-place finish in Boston.
After a taking first in both of its groups with 3-0 and 2-1-0 scores, SS opened its playoffs with a strong showing against a solid Godsent. From there, it was tasked with taking on one of WESG’s most intriguing entities in Team Russia but ultimately had little trouble making its way to the grand finals.
The knocks on SS to this point have been an inability to hang with top-tier teams and the lack of a signature LAN win. That could all change on Sunday, though.
The odds heavily favor Fnatic here, given both how thoroughly proven Fnatic is and how hot the team has looked in recent weeks. The SS team is clearly hungry, though, and that could prove to be the difference.
Third Place Match: Team One (BR) vs. Team Russia (RU)
The Team Russia competing in CS:GO is everything that’s right about WESG.
In theory, WESG is basically supposed to be the esports Olympics, pitting super groups and dream teams against one another in a “one time only” delight for fans, a la the Games’ hockey events from 1998 to 2014. With most of the CS:GO field comprised of established teams from around the world, Team Russia--which features players from Gambit Esports, FlipSid3 Tactics, Natus Vincere and EPG--stood apart from the rest.
It showed it meant business early by defeating a heavily favored SK Gaming in the first phase of the group stages and only got stronger from there, taking first-place in the second phase by defeating Team EnVyUs (which included a 16-0 sweep) and Recca Esports in best-of-two series while splitting with MVP PK. It advanced to the semifinals by edging out a game AGO Esports 2-1 but ultimately fell to Space Soldiers.
It has the chance to take the proverbial bronze medal, however, as it faces Brazil’s Team One in the third-place game.
Team One became something of a breakout star on the penultimate day of WESG’s Counter-Strike tournament. After taking second place in both of its groups, the Brazilian upstarts stunned CS:GO fans by taking a 2-1 series win over Cloud9 in the first round of the playoffs. That bracket buster destroyed what seemed to be an inevitable showdown between C9 and Fnatic that would likely serve as a stepladder for the future champion.
While this win doesn’t establish Team One as world-class contenders, it does establish them as one of the top teams in the wide-open South American region. And with SK Gaming struggling in recent weeks (more on them tomorrow) a case can maybe, just maybe, be made that they’re the best team on the continent today.