Eight teams went into the ECS Season 6 LAN finals, but only one emerged victorious as Astralis took home the lion’s share of the $660,000 prize pool last weekend in Arlington.
But while Astralis’ brilliant display of dominance once again took center stage, there were a couple of takeaways from the event. This includes, among many other things, Ninjas in Pyjamas’ slow and steady rise back to relevancy and MIBR’s looming resurgence after what can only be described as quite the disappointing season for their star-studded lineup.
Below are our takeaways from the ECS Season 6 LAN finals.
Can Anyone Stop Astralis?
MIBR’s gameplan is one that’s hard to predict and prepare for. Although one can always expect for Marcelo ‘coldzera‘ David to play brilliantly like he’s almost always had, the rest are wildcards. They play an intentionally chaotic brand of CS:GO that can either fall flat on their face or catch their opponents off-guard. Even if we’ve seen the former happen more frequently in recent months, when the latter happens, it is a sight to behold.
That was the case in the Grand Finals of ECS Season 6. Unfortunately for MIBR, they had to go through the historically-dominant Astralis.
Unlike other teams, Astralis are a team that seems to thrive under pressure; excelling at communicating in even the most stressful of situations. Even when staring down at a 15-11 lead, such as in the second map of the Grand Finals of ECS Season 6, Astralis were no different. In fact, one could argue that they were even better as MIBR were one round win away from tying the series and forcing out a third map.
Perhaps what makes Astralis so dominant is that they don’t focus on star power alone.
No offense to Nicolai ‘dev1ce‘ Reedtz. He’s great, magnificent even. The fact that he now holds the record with the most HLTV MVP awards with 11 is proof of that. But, Astralis are built to survive cold spells from every one of its players, with each individual capable of carrying their own weight.
Regardless of what makes Astralis tick or successful, the question on everyone’s mind right now is, “who can stop Astralis?”.
NiP and North Are Primed for a Breakthrough
It’s quite easy to say that teams are ready to breakthrough when they’re playing in a smaller tournament with a limited number of teams. The GSL-style format during the Group Stage of the ECS Season 6 LAN finals also doesn’t lend to the common criticism that some teams just aren’t tested enough throughout the tournament, which is why there are those that seemingly give the illusion that they’re ready to break through.
For Ninjas in Pyjamas and North, however, their performance at ECS Season 6 seemed more like a confirmation than anything else.
The legendary organization, Ninjas in Pyjamas, had fallen on hard times lately, being relegated to an afterthought instead of a powerhouse. The same goes for North, who, save for an upset win at DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018, haven’t posted anything noteworthy in recent months. But, at the ECS Season 6 LAN finals, these two teams “turned it up” or so to speak.
While both were not able to make it to the Grand Finals, their performance during the semifinals showed that they have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the big boys. In particular, for Ninjas in Pyjamas, this is huge, as they look to claw their way back to relevancy and establish themselves as a dominant force in CS:GO once again.
MIBR Need More Time
It’s been months since we’ve been waiting for MIBR to fulfill on the potential of their lineup, and so far, we’ve seen so much of the occasional flash of brilliance that we can’t help but wonder if that’s all this lineup could ever amount to and if change really is inevitable.
Once an all-Brazilian lineup under the former SK Gaming banner, the core of this team was near-unstoppable in 2017. However, the team felt that a change was necessary and in early 2018, they brought in Jacky ‘Stewie2K‘ Yip from Cloud9, in hopes that he can be just as effective when he helped the North American organization win a Major in January of 2018. But, so far, even with former Cloud9 teammate, Tarik ‘tarik‘ Celik, now on the roster, it doesn’t seem like Stewie2K has found his place on the team yet.
As much time as the team has had to mesh with its current roster though, MIBR might just need more.
Their aggressive, chaotic style of play is predicated on near-telepathic levels of communication and for that to happen, MIBR need to be on the same page all of the time. Even if that isn’t always the case, they are getting there, and the only way to fully realize just how good this current lineup is if MIBR stay together and weather the storm.
Murky Waters Lie Ahead for Team Liquid
Have Team Liquid peaked? That’s a legitimate question for a lineup that has always come close to winning, but almost always seem to fall short. Even when not up against Astralis, the North American organization has failed to deliver on a trophy, and after a winless showing at the ECS Season 6 LAN finals, it’s fair to wonder if the current iteration of Team Liquid have reached its limit.
Six second-place finishes in a year is nothing to scoff at, especially for a region that has had no one to consistently cheer for in a while. However, even if they’re not mediocre results, they’re not wins either. After all, to paraphrase a common saying, no one really remembers who came in second.
Eventually, Team Liquid will have to face the reality and make the hard decision to try and break up the roster in hopes of finally getting over the proverbial hump or letting the roster playing things out to see how it goes.
If Team Liquid continue to look out of shape in future tournaments, the decision will likely lean more towards the former.
The Race for Second Place Is On
Is this a backhanded compliment to any team that is not Astralis? Maybe. Maybe not. You can take it as what you think it is. But, the truth is, Astralis are the best CS:GO team in the world right now, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
Having said that, it’s not exactly boring to try and predict what’s going to happen to tournaments going forward.
Even if Astralis are essentially a shoo-in to make it to the Grand Finals, it’s interesting to see who they’re going to face once they’re there. Is it going to be FaZe Clan? Or maybe it’s Natus Vincere? What about Team Liquid? Or, maybe MIBR? You can throw in mousesports and North right up there while you’re at it.
The thing is, even if Astralis’ presence makes tournaments slightly predictable, they haven’t made it any less fun to watch the events unfold. Not to mention, more and more teams are starting to make Astralis sweat now, with MIBR and FaZe Clan arguably topping that list.
No one might acknowledge the reality that every team other than Astralis right now is racing for second place, but to be honest, it’s not exactly half-bad.
Production Quality was Top Notch
FACEIT delivers once again with the ECS Season 6 LAN finals. Viewers may not have been able to enjoy it on Twitch, but it was on YouTube, which was pretty much the same thing if not better. No one could question the fact that anyone who wanted to enjoy some good ol’ CS:GO could do so without so much of a problem.
From the stream down to the pre-match and post-match shows, as well as the broadcasting team, FACEIT continue to prove themselves as one of the very best that the scene has to offer.
If Valve ever decides to host something similar to Dota 2’s The International for CS:GO, they’d be foolish not to at least consider giving the hosting rights to FACEIT.
At this point, it’s foolish to think Astralis aren’t going to win any tournament they’re not going to play in. This includes the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals next week, where the Danes are in the running for both the $750,000 prize pool and the $1 million award from the Intel Grand Slam if they win the tournament.
Should Astralis succeed, their spot among the all-time greats in CS:GO will forever be secured.
Having said that, the other teams shouldn’t really look to topple Astralis right now. Instead, they should look at as to how they can establish themselves as the firm second-best before trying to take the crown for themselves.
What do you think was the biggest takeaway from the ECS Season 6 LAN finals? Will Ninjas in Pyjamas or Mousesports continue improving? Will MIBR finally fulfill the potential of their lineup? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.