Fnatic's ESWC victory puts them atop Counter-Strike scene
The world’s hottest Counter-Strike team has further solidified their place atop the scene.
Swedish team Fnatic triumphed at the Electronic Sports World Cup in Paris, overcoming a field of 23 other teams drawn from a diverse array of countries.
Fnatic’s journey began with a small bump in the road, as they fell to Natus Vincere in the group stage to finish second in their group. But an easy result over the group’s third-place finisher, Portuguese side Kick, saw Fnatic through with minimal concern.
The team’s playoff run began with a competitive series against Hell Raisers, but that series would still end with a sweep in Fnatic’s favor. A semifinal match with Virtus Pro would play out similarly, with Fnatic dominating the first game before closing out the series in a second game that was tighter, even if Fnatic was never seriously threatened.
These victories set up a finals match that many fans had been anticipating between Fnatic and French side LDLC.
LDLC has impressed since their roster was reconstructed earlier in the season. They've established themselves as one of the world’s best and most consistent squads in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The two teams almost met in the finals of the Faceit League final, but IBuyPower's upset victory over LDLC spoiled that potential encounter.
The Parisian crowd was loudly in favor of LDLC during a back-and-forth opening half of the final's first game. But after halftime, Fnatic took firm control of the match and all but silenced the fans, winning the first game by a score of 16-10.
The second game in the best-of-three final was nearly a blowout, as Fnatic sprinted out to a 13-4 lead. But LDLC fought back to make the final score more appealing, as Fnatic ultimately closed the game out at 16-11 to win the tournament.
Natus Vincere also had a good run in Paris, beating Fnatic in the group stage and making the semifinals before losing to LDLC.
Disappointing teams including Cloud9, who were eliminated during the group stage in spite of losing only a single game and tying in the standings with LDLC and Virtus Pro, and Ninjas in Pyjamas, who crashed out of the tournament in dramatic fashion and sparked further debate about their future.
The event was also notable for the inclusion of teams from countries rarely represented at international Counter-Strike events, including Brazil, China, India, Japan, and South Africa. The lack of experience at this level showed for these teams, as they struggled to produce results against the world’s bigger and more experienced names.
Screengrab via ESWC/Twitch