After four games between the two strongest teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, it was the old guard who came out on top.
The Brazilian SK Gaming roster defeated European superteam FaZe Clan 3-1 in the grand finals of ESL Pro League’s sixth season—after ending the series with an overtime victory on Train.
Between the two rosters, the teams have appeared in a total of 15 grand finals throughout the year, and faced each other in three of them. SK have, however, always prevailed in the confrontations, despite FaZe’s incredible amount of star-level talent.
The grand finals in Odense, however, started out in FaZe Clan’s favor on opening map Inferno.
Map one: Inferno
Off the back of a pistol round victory, FaZe established a comfortable lead in the opening half, establishing a five-round lead against the Brazilians. SK’s first success on the map came after a series of solid holds against FaZe’s attempts at breaching the A bomb site—where a vigilant Epitácio “TACO” de Melo fended off the Europeans from the Pit position.
After the first 15 rounds, FaZe held a one-round lead against SK. The Europeans, however, once again got off to a strong start in the half by winning yet another pistol round. But SK kept on fighting back time and time again with successful forcebuys, which FaZe also answered back after having their economy stunted. Brawling all throughout the second half—with incredible performances out of star players Marcelo “coldzera” David and Fernando “fer” Alvarenga—FaZe’s early lead in the second half proved to be too much for SK to deal with, and they walked away as victors of the first game.
Map two: Overpass
Despite being a favorite map for both teams, it was only the first half of Overpass that proved to be truly eventful. Starting out on the CT-side, FaZe were once again successful in winning the opening pistol round, primarily on behalf of former Fnatic star Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, who executed four SK players with his P250.
Similar to the first map, however, forcebuys proved to be the most appropriate response to any kind of setback—as SK immediately ran over FaZe in the second round with a sub-par armory. SK, in fact, established a minor lead following the second round, but FaZe quickly answered back off of an incredible set of plays from in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. The first half ended 8-7 in favor of FaZe, but the Europeans had no time to enjoy their lead as SK took control of the second pistol round.
From there on, FaZe barely found any openings against their Brazilian opponents. One of the critical difference makers for SK was undoubtedly fer, whose now infamous control of the upper half of the map saw FaZe prioritize the B bomb site, which SK seemingly always had an answer for. When all was said and done, FaZe only claimed three rounds in the entire second half, as SK tied the series.
Map three: Mirage
In stark contrast to the first two maps of the series, Mirage was the sole game to not see the losing team with a double-digit round score. The reason for this was due to SK absolutely demolishing FaZe on the opening half.
Despite being the Europeans’ map pick, the Brazilian team read FaZe like a book—ending the first half with a 13-2 scoreline. To say this is an irregularity when it comes to FaZe is an understatement, but what was even more shocking was the absolutely dismal performance of the team’s superstar Nikola “NiKo” Kova?, who at the end of the first half had only scored a single kill in 15 rounds.
With this said, FaZe did put up a good performance in the second half, scoring seven round wins in total. Had they been a bit closer to their opponents, they could have perhaps staged a comeback. But SK’s lead was already too great, and after only three wins, the Brazilians were suddenly on tournament point.
Map four: Train
For most of the first half, SK looked as if they were going to repeat their feat on the opening half on Mirage, as the team blasted away from FaZe and accrued an eight-round lead. FaZe eventually put their first round on the board, and from there on came back to win all seven remaining rounds of the half.
After also winning the second pistol round and the three following rounds, FaZe suddenly found themselves in the lead at 11-8. This type of comeback is rare, especially against what could be considered the strongest roster in the world, and things looked all but guaranteed to lead into a deciding fifth map.
But in the face of FaZe’s onslaught, SK proved to be far more comfortable on the CT-side of the map, and caught up with FaZe almost immediately. With SK once again in a comfortable position, SK came closer and closer to finishing the series.
FaZe grew all the more desperate, and in what can only be considered as one of the most clutch victories in CS:GO’s competitive history—GuardiaN, on match point, found himself in a one-vs-two situation with only a CZ-75 in his armory. After dealing with one SK player, the Slovakian player had no more bullets in his clip, and SK captain Garbiel “FalleN” Toledo was defusing the bomb while under the cover of a smoke grenade. With only a few seconds to spare, GuardiaN charged into the smoke, and knived FalleN to death with little more than a second left on the defuse timer—which kept FaZe’s tournament dreams alive.
With the extremely clutch victory in the previous round, SK’s economy was in tatters, and FaZe tied the series up at 15-15 to force overtime. But despite the heroic play of GuardiaN a few rounds earlier, FaZe only grabbed a single round during Train’s overtime—ending the series 3-1 in SK’s favor.