Written By PeeKay - 2022-06-12
Important victories for FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming over Evil Geniuses and Luminosity Gaming respectively saw them lead the Group B table, while Cloud9 ensured Sentinels remained winless at the event with a dominant performance to round out the group stage.
It was a series of dominant halves as FaZe overcame the challenge of Evil Geniuses with a 2-0 scoreline. Both teams finished the group phase with a 3-2 record and qualified for the playoffs in third and fourth place respectively.
EG got things rolling on Icebox, a great pick in theory, considering they had taken down the likes of Luminosity Gaming and Sentinels and just narrowly lost to Cloud9 on it so far at the event, while FaZe’s recent experiences there were quite the opposite, facing losses to LG and TSM FTX on the map. A good start gave Xavier "flyuh" Carison’s side some confidence, with Evil Geniuses’ force buy after losing the pistol not paying dividends. Kelden "Boostio" Pupello and co., not to be outdone, switched their gaze to the B site and found success in the rifle rounds, pegging the score back to a competitive 3-4 scoreline. Those would be the only rounds EG would win in the half, however, as every player on FaZe stepped up with flyuh leading from the front with 23 kills and a 1.18 rating to shut down the opposition attack, and the score was 9-3 at the break.
The tables turned very quickly in the second half, as Evil Geniuses started off with a defensive pistol of their own and converted against the forcebuy to begin mounting their comeback. But an early exchange going FaZe’s way, followed by the Viper’s Pit in the post-plant allowed flyuh’s side to win a huge thrifty and then move to a dangerous 11-5 scoreline. But it was deja vu for EG from then on, who put together a huge defensive streak of their own, and even despite FaZe moving to map point, were able to win the last three rounds to take us to overtime.
The Evil Geniuses camp was bubbling with confidence going past regulation, but it was their opponents who struck first on a 2v2 retake. The next two rounds were messy and brawly, the first going the way of EG thanks to a Corbin "C0M" Lee multikill, and the second was closed out by Quan "dicey" Tran's flank. It was now a must-win situation for Boostio’s side and they finally faltered on the B retake, as FaZe took map 1 15-13.
The second map of the series was FaZe’s curious pick of Breeze, a map neither team had played yet at Stage 2 Challengers, and it was clear flyuh must have had something in his back pocket. That something certainly wasn’t a great attack side, as FaZe found themselves down 2-6 early in the half, their only two rounds coming off the back of a low-buy Viper’s Pit round. Evil Geniuses lived up to their name as Boostio called a great defensive half, and it required heroics from Andrej "babybay" Francisty’s elusive Neon to even salvage a round. EG grabbed three more rounds at the end of the half to make it 9-3 going into the break.
Not many people would have expected FaZe to come back after such a demoralizing half, but flyuh’s side had the mental resilience to not only do that, but also not concede a single round in the entire second half. They began their marathon with a pistol and anti-eco conversion, and star man Babybay was on hand with four kills to hand FaZe the bonus. flyuh and co. didn’t make it easy for themselves either, constantly pulling off retakes as they leveled things up at 9-9. FaZe didn’t even give EG the luxury of a spike plant the last few rounds, shutting them down completely to pull off a flawless defense and take Breeze 13-9 and the series 2-0.
An unsurprising result saw Cloud9 batter Sentinels 2-0 and add to their misery, meaning the latter did not win a single match in the entirety of the Stage 2 Challengers Group Stage. In relation to this event this match did not matter, as both teams finished towards the bottom of the table and outside playoff contention; however, it now puts the fate of Sentinels’ Last Chance Qualifier hopes in the hands of other teams.
While Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan’s side haven’t had a good time on any map as of late, Haven is one they can bank on as being a decent pick. But the little optimism Sentinels fans might have had quickly disappeared, as Cloud9 raced to a 4-0 lead with dominance, losing just three players on the way. An A fake granted Sentinels their first round, but they couldn’t build on it, and Anthony "vanity" Malaspina and co. took control of the map yet again. Erick "Xeppaa" Bach was absolutely impeccable on his site holds, going 22-4 with a 2.18 rating and posting a 100% KAST stat. On the other side, moments of brilliance for Sentinels were few and far between, but Michael "dapr" Gulino had one for the highlight reels as he ace clutched to give his team their second and last round of the map. The half ended 10-2 in C9’s favor and there were no signs the momentum would shift anytime soon.
Indeed it didn’t, as vanity’s side continued to beat down Sentinels on the pistol round by running to C through the B site, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. At 11-2 and back against the wall, ShahZaM and co. were compelled to force buy but to no avail, as they lost both of the remaining two rounds, with their final death coming at the hands of Xeppaa’s Trailblazer. 13-2 was how Haven ended and Cloud9 took a 1-0 lead in the series.
Sentinels’ map pick having gone the wrong way, ShahZaM now entered Cloud9’s rather vulnerable Ascent. The latter had only played it against OpTic Gaming and suffered a 5-13 loss, giving some hope for the former to come back. C9 started off with a pistol win, now the third of the series, led by vanity’s four kills. But Sentinels rebounded once they had rifles in hand, with dapr putting up four kills of his own to drag his team to a 3-2 lead. Momentum swung back in Cloud9’s favor, as they were able to convert a few post-plants, but Sentinels certainly made it close, and indeed, broke the C9 attack toward the end of the half to lead 7-5 at the break.
That was about as competitive as this series would get, as the second half saw an incredible defense by Cloud9 that their opponents simply could not cope with. It began with yet another pistol round, all four of the series now going the way of C9, and continued as they dismantled Sentinels’ A site post-plant setup with just Spectres to take the lead on Ascent. They did not look back from there, stringing together round after round without resistance and destroying Sentinels’ economy. vanity and co. wrapped things up with a simple 4v2 retake on B and claimed the map 13-7 and the series 2-0.
In a top of the table clash, OpTic Gaming showed off their quality to defeat Luminosity Gaming 2-0 and take top spot in Group B. The latter moved down to fourth place with a 3-2 record and now find themselves in a hard playoff bracket.
As is often the case, Luminosity’s pick of Split was a map dominated by two solid defensive halves. OpTic were the first to shine, taking the first couple rounds as Victor "Victor" Wong laid down the law with seven kills. They were not able to convert the bonus round, however, but were right back once they had rifles in hand. Jaccob "yay" Whitaker was dominant as usual, locking down mid and A site, leading the scoreboard with 29 kills and a 1.55 rating on Chamber. The two rounds Will "dazzLe" Loafman’s side were able to gather came from active post-plant setups, but otherwise, OpTic sailed their way to a 9-3 half.
A pistol and anti-eco conversion saw Pujan "FNS" Mehta and co. move to a huge 11-2 lead and with the end zone in sight, they perhaps got too comfortable. From the following round 15 to round 23, Luminosity won a total of nine rounds in a row, stunning the OpTic Gaming camp. The performances of Kaleb "moose" Jayne on Cypher must be highlighted, with him being absolutely integral in holding down the A site and even shining on retakes, leading his team with 23 kills. With the map going all the way, LG just had to win the last round to secure Split, but a hero play by Victor helped his team convert a 3v4 and take it to overtime.
Unlike the rest of the map, overtime was a quick affair, with in-game leader FNS finding a triple on the B defense to shut LG down, and OpTic’s own B split was too much to handle, and they closed out the map 14-12.
Ascent was next up, with OpTic only having lost it to Evil Geniuses at this event, beating the likes of Cloud9 and FaZe Clan on it earlier. They did go down two rounds early, thanks to a pistol round clutch by Brandon "Bdog" Sanders, who was unlike his usual dominant self in this series. LG should even have gotten a third round, but OpTic pulled off a Thrifty win to put themselves on the board, and now with an economic advantage, strung together five attacking rounds in a row to move to 5-2. Still, dazzLe and co. made the best of a bad situation by winning the majority of the last five rounds, to keep it at a respectable 5-7 scoreline at the half.
OpTic Gaming won the third pistol of the series to put two more rounds under their belt, and despite losing the bonus, were able to get to a double digit score early on. A blunder in middle saw Tanner "TiGG" Spanu capitalize with a Classic, his three kills allowing Luminosity to win the thrifty round and find a bit of confidence. The victory was short lived, as OpTic showed off why they’re still one of the best teams in the world with three rock solid site holds, first by yay and Marved on A, followed by crashies and FNS on B, not even allowing a spike plant as they wrapped up Ascent with a 13-8 scoreline and took the series 2-0.
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