This weekend, a new chapter was added to one of the of the biggest rivalries in Counter-Strike.
North America’s four best teams gathered in Philadelphia, Pa., for the live playoff final of CEVO’s fifth professional season of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Three of the names were familiar to fans of the game. Cloud9 and iBUYPOWER, whose rivalry may be the game’s biggest, have long staked out their place among the world’s best teams. Fellow entrant Netcode Guides have for some time now been a regional power.
The fourth and final team, Denial Esports, have been doing their best to break up the traditional power structure at the top of North America’s Counter-Strike scene. But the results of the event showed that they still have a long way to go.
Denial was easily bested by Cloud9 in the first round of the double elimination tournament. Their second and final loss, to Netcode Guides, started with a 16-2 blowout. Denial acquitted themselves better in the second game of the series, but it still resulted in a loss.
Netcode Guides put on a better showing but weren’t able to extend their stay for much longer than Denial. The team lost twice to iBUYPOWER, first in the upper bracket and then in the lower. Each game saw Netcode Guides score at least 10 rounds, but each was a win for iBUYPOWER, and Netcode Guides was gone.
The main focus for most fans was the seemingly inevitable battle between Cloud9 and iBUYPOWER for the title, and the teams did not disappoint. In fact, they gave fans far more than they could have hoped for.
Between the upper bracket final and grand final, the two teams would compete over seven total games. During those games, they would play close to 200 total rounds, and through it all remain almost exactly even; Cloud9 would win 101 rounds to iBUYPOWER’s 95.
But Counter-Strike matches are not played on aggregate. After Cloud9 defeated iBUYPOWER in the final of the upper bracket, they met them again in the grand final following iBUYPOWER’s second defeat of Netcode Guides. iBUYPOWER immediately staked out their place in the event’s championship round, winning two games to reset the bracket and set a single best-of-three series to determine the tournament champion. What followed was a series of games that could hardly have been closer.
Both of the first two games in that final series, which were split between the two teams, came down to the final round of regulation. iBUYPOWER won the first, 16-14, and Cloud9 came back to win the second by the same margin. This set up a third and final game that would decide the fate of both participants, and the last game of the event did not disappoint.
Cloud9’s most recent acquisition, Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek, proved his worth once again by dominating the game, including a key three-kill final round of regulation that would secure overtime in the game.
But iBUYPOWER had key performers of their own step up. Kevin “AZK” Lariviere and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham posted big numbers in leading their team to an overtime victory. The win was marked by exuberant yells and celebratory hugs from iBUYPOWER’s side of the venue, while Cloud9’s players could only sit and reflect on what had become a marathon competition that was more about the two finalists than the four teams making up the whole of the field.
Cloud9 and iBUYPOWER will now commence preparations for the Faceit League final in Milan, Italy, which opens on Oct. 26.