Road To The VulkanBet Invitational Finals - Semis Recap

The $20,000 VulkanBet Invitational tournament has reached its final stages. Last week we witnessed the last two teams qualify for the playoffs – HAVU and Epsilon. It was surprising to see the Finnish team (HAVU) have so much success in the group stage. With ease, they beat the favored team to win the whole thing – Epsilon.

In the deciding game against Alternate Attax, HAVU acquired a 16-7 victory and secured a spot in the playoffs. As for Epsilon, because they lost the opening match, they played two more bo1’s for the playoffs. In the deciding match against SJ Gaming, the European mixture pulled off a miraculous comeback to come out on top.

The final group stage game of the VulkanBet Invitational was a battle between Epsilon and Alternate Attax. It looked like an interesting game on paper, but it didn’t deliver to its full potential. There were a couple of rounds were the Germans would have a significant numbers advantage (i.e a 5v2) and still lose. Epsilon banked on those mistakes and acquired a win.

With the group stages concluded, the next stage started off with the playoffs. Depending on how the teams finished the groups, second or first, determined their seeding. The initials bo3’s were: Nemiga vs HAVU and ex-3DMAX vs Epsilon.

Nemiga vs HAVU

The first bo3 of the playoffs began with Nemiga vs HAVU. The odds were stacked against Nemiga and for good reason. During their time in the tournament, they were able to beat the lackluster VP roster and the French LDLC. On the other hand, a team like HAVU has had profound success. After all, it is the victories against Epsilon and Alternate Attax which helped them secure a 1st place finish.

First Come, First Served

The Belarusians decided to pick Inferno as the first map. This is the map in which Nemiga has found success in tier 2 Counter-Strike events. Virtus.pro, Windigo, Nemiga, etc. are just some of the scalps they’ve proclaimed. And yet, as the match began, Nemiga had a grueling start. On the ct side of Inferno, they managed to scrape 1 round to HAVU’s 6. Nemiga held on to their defensive and began winning consecutive rounds on after the other. It didn’t take them long enough and by the end of it was 7 rounds for them and 8 for HAVU.

Things looked good for Nemiga as they also won the pistol round. But disaster struck for the Belarusians as they ran into a stacked B bombsite and couldn’t hold their own against the mere pistols. The momentum shift couldn’t come in a better time for HAVU. Since they played on the ct of Inferno, they didn’t have a difficult time closing out the first map 16-10.

Illusions Of An Easy Victory

The second map was Dust2, picked by HAVU. Nemiga is no stranger on this map, after all, it is their second most played map. It saw staggering to witness their proficiency on the t side. You could’ve very easily blinked and missed the whole first half. In a very decisive manner, lollipop21k & co. bounced back from Inferno and led the first half by 12-3.

With the pistol round victory going in favor of Nemiga, it looked like the end for HAVU. However, the in 18th round the tides changed completely. In a 1v3 hold on the B bombsite, ZOREE secured HAVU’s first round on the t side. What happened next was an impeccable comeback from the Finns. They won 9 rounds in a row and they had the lead by 15-13. Thanks to some solid hold on the bombsites from Nemiga, they acquired the last two rounds in regulation and the game went to overtime. It was a back and forth affair and even led to the second set of OT. But in this second overtime, it was Nemiga who put their foot down and won the map 22-18.

Settling The Score

The final map wouldn’t be as exciting as Dust2. On Mirage, HAVU had a difficult time on the ct side. They won the second round after the pistol round went to Nemiga. This meant that the ct’s had a short lasting lead of 3-1. After which the Belarusians began playing full force on the terrorist side. They overcame HAVU’s early lead and secured a 9-6 half.

 After which, they yet again secured the pistol round and consecutive rounds followed suit. Even though there was another comeback attempt from HAVU, it didn’t pay dividends. The final score favored Nemiga 16-12 and they secured a slot in the grand finals.

ex-3DMAX vs Epsilon

The most anticipated match of the tournament. If Epsilon would’ve finished first in their respected group, we could’ve seen this match in the final. But still, the stakes were high and the teams couldn’t just breeze through one another. At least, that was supposed to be the case on Inferno. Ex-3DMAX went for this pick, as it is their most played map. Even though Epsilon tends to play this map, they have been battered by a lot of tier 2 and tier 3 opponents.

Blazing Start To Inferno

Despite their lackluster results, it was very surprising to see the Epsilon roster perform this well on Inferno. It didn’t really matter where Epsilon would hit on their t side, because ex-3DMAX had a difficult time holding any of the sites. It didn’t help the French that Epsilon had 3 of their players k1to, broky and Surreal popping off. Without much of a struggle, it was a 13-2 lead for Epsilon. Even though the match was more or less over, on the second half pistol round we witnessed an impressive ace and a clutch from hAdji, a sign of things to come. But his performance wasn’t enough for the team to still fight for a victory on Inferno. Shortly thereafter, Epsilon secured a 16-11 win on the 1st map.

Exhausting Affair

This lead to the second map, Mirage. Now that Epsilon arrived on the map they’ve chosen, it looked like this could be the end for the French. However, ex-3DMAX started things well, as they secured a half eco victory on the second round. After which a flurry of consecutive rounds went in favor of ex-3DMAX. At the end of the half, Epsilon began to recuperate and they themselves won a couple more rounds. It wasn’t enough to equalize the score, as it was still favoring the French 9-6. 

As far as the second half is concerned, Epsilon tried to pull off a reverse sweep. They began winning consecutive rounds on their t side and were on the brink of victory. But on the 28th round, LOGAN managed to deny a bomb plant on the B bombsite and secured 3 kills in a clutch situation. This play was just what the doctor ordered, as ex-3DMAX won one more round to reach 15. Yet, Epsilon secured the last round of regulation and overtime ensued. There were moments were the European mixture had a difficult time at closing out advantageous situations in overtime. That cost them dearly, as they managed to scrape only 1 more round in overtime. The French showed good ct and t sides of OT and secured a 19-16 win over Epsilon.

When On Dust2, Do As The French Do

The final battlefield was Dust2. This map wasn’t back-and-forth like the others. Primarily, it was ex-3DMAX with a constant lead in this map. Early in the map, ex-3DMAX had secured a nice 5 round lead. One of the reasons was hAdji. Just in the second round, he won a 1v4 clutch, including a triple man spray-down on short. Epsilon did retaliate with their own string of 5 rounds, but it was still the French who secured a 9-6 lead moving forward.

The lead wouldn’t stop there, as a pistol round and four more rounds went in favor of ex-3DMAX making it 14-9. Arguably, the French didn’t have the easiest time closing out the series. It would take 5 more round wins from Epsilon before ex-3DMAX could take matters in their own hands. At the 29th round, a half eco victory on the ct side and a gun round victory led to the eventual bo3 win for ex-3DMAX.

VulkanBet invitational Final Overview

That concludes the two semi-final games. Both bo3 were very close affairs, which took us on a 3 map journey to decide the eventual victors. And even then, there’s always a probability if a certain round would’ve gone a different direction, we could see different finalists.

Even though HAVU and Epsilon have lost the semi’s, their journey doesn’t conclude yet. There is still a 3rd place decider to be played out amongst the two teams. Epsilon was a couple of rounds away from securing a grand final slot, but there were too many rounds they’ve lost due to petty mistakes. On the other hand, HAVU is looking determined and might prove to be a more challenging foe than on first glance.

 As far as the grand-final is concerned, which will be held on May 2nd, it should be an intriguing series. Even though ex-3DMAX seems to be the better team, Nemiga has proven to be a worthy opponent. Be sure to tune in on Thursday’s stream and witness the conclusion of the VulkanBet Invitational.

Posted by Michele Schembri on 2nd May 2019, 12:27

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