ESL Championship: Presenting the new champions
A thrilling season of the ESL Championship came to an end this weekend. In addition to long-established game titles such as Dota 2 and CS:GO, players also battled it out in Warcraft III: Reforged and Clash of Clans for the German championship title. We look back at the two weekends and the individual outcomes.
RECARO Gaming is the official partner of the Warcraft III: Reforged ESL Championship and the official chair partner of the ESL Championship Finals.
Finals on familiarly unfamiliar terrain
Like every year, the finals of the second half of the ESL Championship took place in January, during DreamHack. The only difference to last year was the location. Whereas in January 2020 the ESL Championship title was played in front of hundreds of fans on the big stage at the Leipzig Exhibition Center, this year they had to make do with a smaller format. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic forced the organizers to reschedule and switch to an online edition. However, this unavoidable change of scenery did nothing to diminish the excitement, the spectacle of the game, and the support of the many fans watching online. Every game, every map was superb to watch and hard-fought until the very last second, with the teams and players leaving nothing to be desired.
CS:GO: The favorites come up trumps
Following an exciting and intense season, the four semi-finalists had already been decided in December. In addition to the two favorites and finalists from the previous season, Sprout and BIG, last year’s semi-finalists ALTERNATE aTTaX and the boys from eSport Rhein-Neckar were also given the chance to claim the title, the latter having only narrowly missed out on the playoffs in the previous season.
Throughout the season, the superiority of the two top teams and eventual finalists, Sprout and BIG, became apparent: Sprout lost just one match in the entire regular season. And so things panned out as they had already done so in the preceding season. Sprout beat ALTERNATE aTTaX 2–0 in the first semi-final, while BIG gave the newcomers from eSport Rhein-Neckar no chance, winning the match 2–0.
And so once again this season, the final was a contest between Sprout and BIG. The only remaining question was: could Sprout prevail against BIG this time as well?
The game started as everyone had hoped, with both teams going all-out for the win. In contrast to the last time the two teams met, this time BIG won the first round 19–16. At the start of the second round, the defending champions Sprout shook off initial teething troubles and remembered their strengths. In a hard-fought second round, Sprout won 25–22, and then the decisive third round 16–10. With this comeback, Sprout once again secured the German ESL CS:GO Championship title.
Clash of Clans: The same old song
After a strong regular season performance, with only one defeat each, defending champions ALTERNATE aTTaX and eleVen Original had already been confirmed as semi-finalists early on. Meanwhile, the two semi-finalists that would join them later, Perry the Platypus and INQUISITION, still had to earn their place by winning their quarter-final matches.
Once this hurdle had been cleared, INQUISITION in particular pulled off a major upset in their semi-final match, defeating the clear winner of the preliminary round, eleVen Original, 2–0 and so became the first team to reach the final. In the second semi-final, however, the big surprise failed to materialize. ALTERNATE aTTaX lived up to their role as favorites and secured their chance to defend the title with a 2–0 victory.
This meant that INQUISITION faced ALTERNATE aTTaX in the final. Here, despite an exciting, self-sacrificing fight on the part of the underdog, last year’s and this year’s German champion, ALTERNATE aTTaX, prevailed 2–0.
WC3: The new and former champion
As in the previous season, it was ToD and XlorD who won both their groups and had already booked their places in the semi-finals. WaN also experienced a little déjà vu, making it through the playoffs to the semi-finals where he again met XlorD. The quartet was completed by EnTe, who this time managed to prevail in the playoffs and reach the semi-finals of the ESL Championship for the first time.
EnTe had to contend with ToD, whom he defeated clearly on rounds, but in an exciting match by maps. And so ToD, as in the previous season, was unable to win his semi-final match and went away empty-handed. The second semi-final between XlorD and WaN was a replay of the same game as in the previous season, with XlorD coming out on top again, thus securing another chance to defend his title.
He also went on to claim victory in the final where, despite hard-fought maps, the defending champion left no stone unturned and put EnTe in his place with a 3–0 win.
Dota2: The newcomers on top
In contrast to the previous season, the starting field was once again varied, and it was two teams that had impressed in the regular season that went straight into the semi-finals: newcomers Brame and the defending champion Recast Gaming, neither of whom had lost a single game in the regular season. So, after a strong season, we were able to watch the playoffs from our sofas and analyze both competitors, 5Coomrades and EURONICS Gaming. If we thought the semi-finals were going to be a foregone conclusion due to the strong performances of the two preliminary group winners, we were wrong.
While the first semi-final was a clear-cut 2–0 victory for Brame against EURONICS, the second match was a big surprise. 5Comrades beat the previous season’s champion Recast Gaming 2–0 following a fierce match, reaching the final of the German ESL Dota2 championship.
This left two newcomers—Brades and 5Comrades—in the final. Neither team let their hair down and played the match on equal terms. In the end, however, Brades was narrowly beaten 2–1 by 5Comrades.
We would like to thank all the teams for an exciting season and finals, and congratulate the German ESL champions on their title.