An air of excitement loomed over the stage as Australian side Vox Eminor took on European giants Fnatic at the Gfinity Spring Masters event in London. Favorites Fnatic came in on a dominant streak, scoring recent victories over some of the best in Europe at DreamHack Tours and IEM Katowice.
It could have been a pushover. But Fnatic was stopped in their tracks by the minnows from the other side of the world, tying them in a best-of-two.
“When we saw we had [Fnatic] first it was pretty daunting,” in-game leader for Vox Eminor, Chad “Spunj” Burchill, says. “But we just played our game and knew what to do to disrupt their game and I’m ecstatic”
The player produced a total of 40 kills over the two-game series. With a strong performance from the rest of his team, including a 52-36 performance from Justin “jks” Savage, Vox was able to take the first map 16-12.
Fnatic didn’t allow for a repeat performance, however, securing a tie in a tight 16-13 victory. The Australian team shocked the Europeans on Cache, pulling ahead to a 12-3 lead at the half. Fnatic fought back, winning six rounds in a row before Vox Eminor took the game back. The second map, Dust2, never truly looked like it was in Vox’s hands, as Fnatic took and held a lead for the entire map.
The result, however, leaves Vox Eminor in a strong position to advance from the group stage.
Vox will face off against fan-favorites Ninjas In Pyjamas, North American outfit Team Liquid, and Na’Vi, who are fresh off a hot streak. While the Australian team will be favored when they take on Team Liquid, the tables will turn when they face the Ninjas and Na’Vi.
“If we can continue that level of play I think we can definitely get out of the groups, Burchill says. “We need to make sure we can 2-0 Liquid, which I think we will, since they are the weakest team in the group. We’ll be going against really high quality teams so we need to keep up the level we had against Fnatic.”
Also representing Australia at the event is Team Immunity, which comes into Gfinity after a disappointing run at Dreamhack Tours, where they failed to get out of the BYOC qualifier after dropping to French side Awsomniac.
Despite falling to 0-4 on the first day at Gfinity, the team was still able to take French side Titan to overtime in the first map of their encounter. The performance from both team pushes the Australian scene further into the spotlight after a good showing from Vox Eminor at IEM Katowice, where they made it as far as the group stage.
“[European teams] still have a lot more depth than us and they understand the game on more levels,” Burchill says. “If we’re really going to compete with them we’d realistically need to come over and bootcamp for three to six months”
European Counter-Strike continues to reign supreme at events both near and far. Few teams outside the region have been able to challenge high flyers Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Virtus Pro, and EnvyUs. Cloud9 will be hoping to make an impact for North America, while Vox will be hoping to keep the momentum going—not just for Gfinity, but for the future as well.
“If the money starts to get there and the players can get on salaries you never know, maybe soon you’ll see an Australian bootcamp in Europe,” Burchill says.
A tough day looms ahead for Vox as the team prepares to run the gauntlet against two of the best teams in Europe and the challengers from North America: Ninjas in Pyjamas, Na’Vi and Team Liquid. But just qualifying for the latter stages of the tournament would be a major success for the region.
Photo via Vox Eminor/Facebook