The third and final day of SLCG is when everything gets resolved. It’s not uncommon to see the finals stretching on all the way into the night and all the way into the next day. Especially in team-based games, which we’ve been covering so far.
Nevertheless, this year’s SLCG pulled off a considerably more refined ending. Amidst huge roars from the crowd, the Call of Duty 4 draw boiled down to just Team Maximum vs Pnx | Lanka Lions and Maximum | MeetYourMakers vs the Tech Morphers. Both Maximum teams won their respective matches, leading to a finale played out between members of the same clan. The full draw is available at challonge.com (no, that’s not a misspelling).
Most of the vocal fanbase who’d been cheering for Phoenix Gaming or for the shot-in-the-dark Tech Morphers left in disappointment; while everyone had expected a Maximum team to emerge, they’d also expected a fierce fight and something to cheer for at the finals.
Dota 2 ended in drama. Kingdom (aka Death Sentence), having collectively horsewhipped Xiphos’s fRN into submission (poor Tidehunter!), made it to the finals – as expected. But Pnx | The Kade, having lost two members of their team, wanted to forfeit the finals match and let Kingdom walk over to become the champions this year – the anticlimax of the year, as many people turned up simply to see these two legends go at it again.
However, despite a push for the walkover, an hour and a lot of hushed discussions saw The Kade entering the match with grim faces and one largely untried substitute player who we’d never seen before. Death Sentence, perhaps expecting an easy game, opted for a very experimental strategy with a Broodmother pushing the bot lane while everyone else traded kills for map control.
It went disastrously wrong. The Kade retaliated viscously, pushing a 28-1 game that saw a very smart Templar Assassin outfighting a midlane Viper and a hellbent Ursa practically nuking everyone all over the map. Our reaction – the only appropriate reaction cannot be written because of profanity filters. Nobody ever expected The Kade to win that one. It was an impossible victory.
The next game was played much more cautiously; Kingdom dropped the experimenting, stuck to their usual playstyle and pushed the skill advantage. Nevertheless, people were still hoping for a comeback.
What nobody expected was that The Kade would forfeit, leaving Kingdom to become the champions – but with the clear memory of that humiliating first loss still in their minds.
Now we’ve been covering Call of Duty and Dota 2, but SLCG is much more than that. Counterstrike: Global Offensive, the new team entrant in team-based competitive eSports, had yet to gain the following of CS 1.6, but this year’s diligent start saw n00b Alliance’s Encore go up against the RIPD for a 2-0 victory.
And in the middle of all this, a whole lot of awards were handed out, recognizing individual players as well as clans for excellence in their field. Phoenix Gaming claimed the Best Clan award, and as expected there was much rejoicing and happiness among the red shirts. One thing that struck me was how much the numbers had grown for Phoenix – formerly massive clans looked positively dwarfed by the numbers of Phoenixes that turned up in the hall.
Over at the League of Legends pit, some 16 teams fought it out, leading to a finale curiously similar last year’s match (Team Plus versus the Troll Brothers, 2013). Names and allegiances had changed, however; Plus had joined Tech Morph, adding League of Legends to the green clan’s portfolio.
Meanwhile, 3 Xiphos players, 1 player from n00b Alliance and 1 from Tech Morph joined together to form team JRC, the mystery contender who had apparently taken the place of the Troll Brothers.
Only later did I find out the story behind the team. “JRC” stood for Rezmon, a friend and fellow Summoner who passed away this year.
JRC played in his memory, and won – earning an extra champion medal and certificate, both of which will be handed over to Rezmon’s family by the team.
This, perhaps, was the best part of SLCG 2014: a show of simple humanity amidst the flying bullets, the drama, the skillshots and the glory.