After two grueling qualifiers in First Strike CIS: Qualifier A and First Strike CIS: Qualifier B, CIS’ best contended in their biggest tournament to date, First Strike CIS Regional Final, which saw the regions best, of Gambit Esports and forZe, take on many underdog teams looking to make a statement.
The matches were opened by a competitive opener which saw ROX TEAM take on the Ukrainian mix of aim.attack, starting on Bind where it was tight with both Sovas, Mikhail “Duno” Fokin and EpicOff, but saw ROX edge it out, 13-11. Despite many successful on Haven, aim.attack weren’t able to clean up as ROX were on fire with their retakes and eventually took the map 13-8 and the series 2-0.
forZe then skirmished One Breath Gaming where a battle ensued between Dmitriy “dimasick” Matvienko and Nikita “Coffee” Antsypirovich, with the Belarusian pulling his team ahead on Haven with a 216.8 ADR, closely taking the map 13-11. Bind was next, which had One Breath taking their attacking half 7-5 before losing all but one of their defensive rounds, getting outclassed, allowing forZe to take map 13-8, and series 2-0.
Axsor and Singularity began the second day with a three map series which saw Singularity’s Viper, Stanislav “Sp1ke” Koshel, completely obliterate Bind, 13-5. Split should’ve followed suit, but a 10-2 defensive hold from Axsor had Singularity drop the map 11-13, despite Nikita “trexx” Cherednichenko’s carrying efforts. To decide the series, both squads faced off on Ascent, where Singularity’s Ilya “NLaaeR” Koppalov, Artem “insider” Puzanov, and trexx all dropped over 20 kills, netting them the map, 13-7, and denying the reverse sweep with a 2-1 series.
Closing out the quarterfinals, AoeXe took on the favourites, Gambit Esports, in which saw a disaster as Gambit completely picked apart AoeXe with Bogdan “sheydos” Naumov achieving 40 kills and a 329 ACS, allowing them to take Ascent, 13-3, Bind, 13-4, and the series 2-0.
Starting the third day of the event, ROX TEAM were pitted against forZe. The series started on ROX’s Haven, where they couldn’t get their attack going, only one round in the half. Following this, they lost all momentum and the map, 13-3. Needing to win this to stay in the tournament, ROX went on to face forZe on their pick, Bind, which was an extremely back and forth affair, but Vitalik “B1SK” Yemel’yanov’s Operator eventually won ROX momentum, with the map following at 13-10. What followed was the event’s and region’s debut of Icebox, having Nikolai “zeddy” Lapko choose Viper, who’s utility was enough to prevail, winning the map, 13-8, and the series 2-1 to ForZe.
Singularity and Gambit Esports were next to face off for the finals spot, starting on Icebox. The match-up started super one-sided for Gambit, but after heroics from many of Singularity’s players, including a 1v4 by trexx, the score was brought to 12-11, but Nikita “d3ffo” Sudakov closed the map, 13-11, with a stunning Operator 4k. Not being able to take Gambit’s map pick, Singularity then put on a master class on Split, winning seven attacking rounds before insider’s Killjoy shut out Gambit’s attack, taking the map, 13-6. Bind was the decider, and similar to their previous showing, Viper was once again the pivot for Singularity, but a 31 kill game and 454 ACS from trexx’s Raze stole the show and completely obliterated Gambit, for a 13-5 scoreline.
Both teams showed their limits getting to the Finals, but this was Singularity and forZe’s greatest challenge yet, starting on ForZe’s map pick of Haven, it was even from the get go, with a 6-6 half. The match stayed close, with the map point being found by forZe at 12-11, breaking Singularities economy. Zeddy then ran out and took three of singularity to secure ForZe the map advantage in the Bo5 finals.
The squad’s then moved on to Split, where ForZe’s defence was completely dominant, locking Singularity behind closed doors with a 9-3 half. While Singularity opened up their defence by doubling their rounds using insider’s Killjoy to perfection, forZe found a weakness and exploited it to shut out the map, 13-6, making the series, 2-0.
With their back against the walls but finding themselves on a comfortable Icebox, Singularity had to win, and they did, with every single member lighting up the scoreboard on the first half, giving them a one-sided 10-2. There was some battle back by forZe’s members, with zeddy and Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin shutting up shop, but Denis “Gray” Danilyuk’s arrow placement was too strong, allowing them to edge out the rounds needed to bring the map to 13-8.
Bind was shut out for forZe, until, at 11-3 down, a flawless defence until the trio of trexx, Gray, and Sp1ke brought things to overtime. Both sides traded rounds, and with 14-15 on the score, a miraculous 2v4 from Gray and Sp1ke brought Singularity all the way back to 2-2.
The fifth and final map was Haven, and against all odds, Singularity were here, and 4-2 up, but a blunder from trexx saw momentum fall, with them ending the half at 5-7. It was do or die from both teams, but zeddy was ready to hold the line, duoing a strong defensive hold with Coffee, to give forZe the First Strike CIS trophy, in the series ending 3-2.
Final Standings for First Strike CIS Regional Final:
1. forZe – RUB 1,600,000
2. Singularity – RUB 1,000,000
3-4. ROX TEAM – RUB 500,000
3-4. Gambit Esports – RUB 500,000
5-8. Aim.attack – RUB 100,000
5-8. One Breath Gaming – RUB 100,000
5-8. AoeXe – RUB 100,000
5-8. Axsor – RUB 100,000