Evil Geniuses solidified their top-five ranking this weekend by winning StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8, defeating Fnatic in the grand finals in just two maps. EG’s firepower was simply too much for Fnatic to handle, even as the Swedish team was coming off a statement win at DreamHack Masters Malmӧ earlier this month.
The victory restores some faith in the North American organization, especially after their own rough performance in Malmӧ. Evil Geniuses crashed and burned in Sweden, losing 16-10 to Grayhound Gaming and dropping a best-of-three against Mousesports to exit the tournament in 14th place.
StarLadder, however, was a different story.
EG only lost two maps during the entire tournament, cruising to a grand finals berth with wins over formidable opponents including Heroic, FURIA Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Renegades. They set the stage for the grand finals by defeating Fnatic 2-0 in the upper bracket finals, establishing them as the clear favorites to win.
Fnatic had a similar climb to the finals, only losing three maps to cement their place against EG. Their lower bracket series against FURIA was an especially interesting watch that saw Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin come alive on Mirage and post a +15 K/D, 108.9 ADR, and an incredible HLTV rating of 1.64.
The end of the tournament had to come at some point, however, and this morning’s series between Evil Geniuses and Fnatic showed that EG is hitting their stride.
The Grand Final veto went predictably, with EG picking first as a reward for winning the upper bracket. EG currently holds an incredible 93.3% win rating on Dust 2, the highest win percentage out of every single CSGO team with a minimum of five Dust 2 maps played.
Fnatic’s removal of Vertigo was a standard ban, and their Mirage pick was based on comfort rather than a planned counter. In fact, EG on average performs better on Mirage than Fnatic does, meaning that the Swedes hoped for personal outplays rather than a map advantage. Inferno, as always, remains a map that every Counter-Strike team worth their salt can play, making it an easy decider map. Even more so when the other options are Train or Nuke.
Dust 2 started off with a ferocious T-side pistol round from Fnatic, which kicked off a 9-0 run from the boys in orange. A combination of well-timed executes and contact plays kept EG on the back foot. EG finally found a semblance of stability with their first-round win in round 10. That single win was just enough to give EG some confidence, leading to a halftime score of 5-10 in favor of Fnatic.
The second half of Dust 2 was an entirely different story, however. If Fnatic’s T-side looked good, then EG’s overwhelming aggression, particularly from Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte, was godlike. An EG T-side pistol round win lead to a run that closed Fnatic’s lead to a single round. While Fnatic managed to pick up their first CT-side win in round 20, EG would win five in a row to complete the comeback and take their map pick 16-12.
Brehze’s impact here cannot be understated. He posted a +13 kill differential and 102.4 ADR to spearhead EG’s victory. No one else on EG owned a differential higher than +8.
Fnatic’s Mirage pick went worse for them than EG’s Dust 2 pick did.
Though Fnatic started strong thanks to a Jesper "JW" Wecksell ace and ended the first half with a 9-6 lead, it didn’t matter in the end. EG didn’t give up a single round in the second-half on the T side, winning ten rounds in a row to polish off Mirage 16-9 and take home the StarSeries & i-League Season 8 trophy and the $250,000 top prize.
Ultimately, the tournament showed that both EG and Fnatic deserve their current top-five standing. With EG starting to come alive tactically and individually since their transfer from NRG Esports, fans can only expect more big things from the team.
Fnatic has also shown serious promise of late. Their win in Malmӧ combined with their performance here indicate an upwards trend for a team that many left for dead months ago.
Fans can watch Evil Geniuses at Intel Extreme Masters XIV Beijing, where Team Liquid’s absence bodes well for their chances to take home a win in China. Fnatic is currently deep in the ESL Pro League Season 10, with ECS Season 8 starting on October 28.