As we posted about last week, the Oceanic ESports Masters LAN finals for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and SMITE took place over the past weekend on August 20-21. With a full house of fans eagerly watching their favourite teams live, it added another dimension of not only pressure, but excitement, for Australia’s top cyber athletes. Across both titles, we saw some major upsets as teams played their hearts out to take home some serious cash prizes.
The True Gods
The finale of SMITE’s second split of their Premier League had some huge stories heading in. Most notably, could Team Pandamonium win yet another Australian title despite not playing up to their typical standards in the regular season?
The storylines continued on the day of the finals with Avant player Robert ‘Robdigidy’ De Jong being playful with opponents Legacy eSports, saying “I’m more worried about our Grand Final match tomorrow.” For those not in the know, Legacy eSports had an outstanding regular season and only suffered one loss. Not only that, but they had defeated Avant Gaming at all of their meetings so far. De Jong’s playful remarks would soon become a reality, however, with Avant performing the most significant upset of the League by sweeping Legacy 2-0. Whether Legacy simply underestimated their opponents, or a different Avant showed up on the day, the underdogs had booked themselves a place in the finals.
In the other semifinal, Pandamonium had a hard fought 2-1 victory over fellow veterans Incite Gaming. After dropping the first game Pandamonium captain Daniel Rowe and his boys pulled out some ballsy and confident plays to secure victory, finding themselves yet again in the grand finals of an Oceania SMITE tournament.
It wouldn’t be another repeat for the Pandamonium squad. In a fairytale victory that the crowd was rooting for, Avant outplayed the Australian giant to take the series 3-0. While the scoreline would indicate a clean sweep, the gameplay itself told another story. Avant needed to pull out all the stops to control the momentum of each game and edge out the highly skilled Pandamonium. Meanwhile in the third place match, a best of one, Incite took it over Legacy eSports. With this turn of events we saw the #1 team going into this weekend finish up last in the playoffs, while the lowest ranked team would end up shining when it mattered most to take the victory.
While on the mainstage the mood was serious and focused, after the games a few of the SMITE finalists were being cheeky on social media. Avant’s ‘Gruff’ admitted he drank some Shine+ before the big finals upset, while Pandamonium’s Daniel Rowe said he might have forgotten his Sunday fix. This playfulness really highlights that despite the large prize pool and seriousness needed to be the best, the colourfulness and banter of the players shows true sportsmanship.
The Upsets Don’t Stop There!
SMITE wasn’t the only final which ended on a fairytale note. The CS:GO finals saw another top dog get upset by an unexpected team. The Chiefs, formerly known as Team ASDF, had recently dominated the Australian scene and qualified for the ESEA Global Championship finals. On top of that, they finished on top of their group for the OEM with a clean 5-0. Their opponents on the other hand, Parallax, had snuck into the top 4 with a 3-2 record, qualifying with a superior Kill/Death difference (like points for/against in traditional sport) over another 3-2 team. With their recent domination of the Australian scene, the Chiefs being cleanly swept 2-0 isn’t what anyone really expected. Like SMITE earlier in the day there was yet another underdog story in the making.
In the other semi-final on Saturday, we saw Athletico and Avant Garde clash. Avant Garde is a well established eSports organisation in Australia, and Athletico is one of the oldest CS teams in the country. The games that came out were what was expected from the two veteran teams with Athletico taking victory 2-1, with both victories being hard fought and extremely close. This set the stage for Sunday’s final: one of Australia’s biggest organisations battling it out against the fresh squad from Parallax.
The OEM finals started strong for Athletico, taking a quick 16-7 victory on the first map. This would light a fire under Parallax, and they returned the favour with an even faster 16-2 to even up the scoreline. Once they were rolling there was nothing which could stop Parallax as they closed out the third and final game with another 16-2 to take home the top prize. In particular, Parallax player Razmik ‘Raz’ Bastadjan had a killer performance. He finished the series with a Kill/Death difference of +52, significantly higher than anyone else playing on the day and by even global standards an incredible score. Even members of Athletico would later joke that there was no stopping Raz’s rampage as he secured his team the upset victory.
Back to Business
As life is for professional gamers, there is very little time for rest. The third season of SMITE’s Oceania Pro League starts up again on September 10. This time there is even more money at stake with a $40,000 prize pool for playoffs, as well as a ticket to the SMITE World Championships in January 2017. For the CS:GO squads, they are currently competing in the ESL ANZ Championship for the best cut of a $20,000 prize pool. With the surprise upsets that occurred this past weekend at OEM, however, it could be anyone’s game to take home the victory.
Interested in eSports? You can learn more for yourself about how the scene grew to what it is today here.
WORDS BY HAYDEN FITZGERALD