With Tier 1 North American teams taking some time off, all eyes were on the Tier 2 scene this weekend as teams were showcased in the PULSE Series. 18 teams battled it out to take the crown of team to watch when facing the big boys. On top of debuts from Spacestation Gaming, beastcoast, and Noble, the tournament was set to be a great one.
We went into the group stage not really knowing what to expect, and the groups were exciting and volatile. In group A, Complexity disappointed, dropping out in last place without winning a game. China Nguyen handily won each of their games to win the group 3-0, and Second Wind, playing with Josh "JoshRT" Lee, made it out in second after a big win over Spot Up.
Speaking of Renegades, they had a fantastic run with their recently-finalized roster, going 3-1 in the group. It was capped off by a stellar play from Chuck "Cp2" Proud against Pretty Boyz, with a no-scope Operator shot to finish off an ace.
Group C saw Built By Gamers have a rough outing. The team, in their final outing with Jake "Tork" Lepoff and with Joseph "Bjor" Bjorklund on trial, only managed to beat L8R Bot. Morning Light topped the group with some impressive performances, though they only beat Luminosity Gaming when they were playing with a substitute.
Finally, Rise had a VERY impressive day as they topped Group D without dropping a map. Spacestation Gaming, beastcoast, and Gonzo Gaming, all making their debuts, ended up tied at 2-2. Beastcoast went through on round differential.
Mamba Mode turned it on when they hit the bracket. They played two close series against China Nguyen and Renegades, before absolutely destroying beastcoast 13-2 and 13-1 to seed themselves directly into the tournament finals. When you consistently make plays like this, you’re going to win. Mamba Mode looked amazing in their upper bracket run.
Beastcoast looked impressive with close wins over Morning Light and Luminosity, but, as mentioned, got slapped around by Mamba Mode. Rise, who had been so dominant in the group stage, fell out of the upper bracket after only winning one map against Luminosity, a disappointing performance.
Bracket stage woes continued for Rise, as they took a 2-0 loss to Morning Light - including a 13-1 on Ascent - to drop out of the tournament. For a team that had looked so good in group stages, it was a massive letdown. Morning Light and Luminosity advanced from round two, setting up a huge showdown.
Luminosity came into the match looking better and better all the time. The new additions of Justin "Ksiaze" Goszczynski and Zachary "Venerated" Roach had made a massive difference. The rest of the team was really unlocking their potential, and, despite their upper bracket loss to beastcoast, Luminosity looked like a team that could win the whole tournament.
On the other side, Morning Light had beaten Luminosity in groups. Their ace, Bryan"mAKKA" Drouillard, had been having a fantastic tournament. While the team in general struggled in the shadows of Mamba Mode, Morning Light could not be underestimated.
The match was the closest, and probably best, of the tournament, and Luminosity took it after three long maps. Since the additions of Ksiaze and Venerated, Brady "thief" Dever had been playing high-fragging agents like Reyna, and he showed it all off this game as he top fragged for the winners every map. Luminosity would rematch against beastcoast for the second spot in the grand final.
The lower bracket final started out incredibly tight on Split. Staying true to its defensive-sided nature, Luminosity and beastcoast each won nine rounds on their defense. This led us to overtime, where Luminosity pulled off a fantastic attacking round with two kills by thief to win the map.
Despite losing the next 2 rounds after winning the pistol, Luminosity pulled out to a gigantic lead on Bind defense, winning eight straight rounds, including this gorgeous retake from Ksiaze.
Despite beastcoast having a slightly better defense, they could not pull the map back in their favour, and Luminosity took Bind 13-8 and the series 2-0. It had been a good debut tournament for beastcoast, nothing to be ashamed of. But Luminosity were the ones off to the grand final.
Mamba Mode, with a map advantage, started off incredibly strong on Bind. Addison "zecK" Gorzeck came up huge in many rounds on their defense, and Matthew "Wedid" Suchan had huge impact and zone denial on his signature Viper. Mamba Mode came off of their defense up 10-2.
It seemed like a comeback was off the cards, especially as Mamba Mode won the pistol and anti-eco to put themselves at match point. But Luminosity strung together nine consecutive rounds on their defense to make it 12-11. With their backs against the wall, Luminosity had pulled it back from defeat, but couldn't close it out. Mamba Mode, with Spectres and Bulldogs, clutched out against a full buy from Luminosity to win the map 13-11.
Luminosity kept their momentum riding high into Split, though, and won the map with a convincing 13-3. Mamba Mode, shockingly considering how they had performed all tournament, looked very outclassed. All of Luminosity was firing, and even the bottom fragging members, Venerated and Brenden "stellar" McGrath, were pointed out as massive contributors.
Luminosity continued it all on a closer map of Haven. While Tristan "Critical" Trinacty did his best on the Killjoy, Luminosity continued to lead the way. The map had some exciting double kills, with Ronan"Osias" Javelona and Ksiaze contributing, but Luminosity's 9-3 attacking half was too strong, and they brought the series to one final map of Ascent.
Critical came absolutely alive on Mamba Mode's Ascent defense. Quad kill, triple kill, round after round, Mamba Mode pushed into the lead. They ended the half up 8-4 after Luminosity took a few late rounds, but it felt more dominant than that.
The second half was Venerated's turn. Odin barrage after Odin barrage, he and Luminosity shut down Mamba Mode's attack. Overtime was in the cards.
But after 2 quick overtime rounds, Mamba Mode reclaimed their throne. Their teamwork was in full force as they shut down Luminosity as they tried to rotate. Mamba Mode had truly broken out as the PULSE Series champions.
Final Standings for the PULSE Series:
1. Mamba Mode Gaming - $6,000 2. Luminosity Gaming - $3,000 3. beastcoast - $1,000 4. Morning Light 5-6. China Nguyen 5-6. Renegades 7-8. Rise 7-8. Second Wind 9-12. Spot Up 9-12. Noble 9-12. Built By Gamers 9-12. Gonzo Gaming 13-16. Complexity 13-16. Pretty Boyz 13-16. L8R Bot 13-16. Spacestation Gaming 17-18. Up For Sale 17-18. Team Shiba
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