That quickly turned around, though, as NIP turned the tide. Despite how low he may have been on the scoreboard, Charles “CREA” Beauvois’s Viper and Astra utility were integral in bringing NIP through. 13-10 on Icebox and 13-8 on Bind meant the Masters champions were eliminated in the first round.
There’s not too much to be said about the Guild Esports–Alliance series. Tautvydas “hype” Paldavicius dying to fall damage during a crucial retake on Haven about sums up how things went for Alliance. It was a very disappointing performance, losing 13-4 and 13-6 respectively, and they’ll have things to work on if they want to make a push for EMEA finals.
In a more surprising outcome, though, Masters finalists and ever-consistent Heretics went out in the quarterfinals to Opportunists, ex-DfuseTeam. It was a great series from Opportunists, using utility very well and swapping up some agents to great effect. For Heretics, it’s a loss that seems to have little to do with niesoW’s departure, as they won Split, a map they played with him, and lost Haven and Ascent, maps they didn’t. It’s the first disappointing performance we’ve seen in a long time from Heretics, but they’ll still be favourites in Challengers 2.
Lastly, FunPlus Phoenix ran over Team Vitality. Split was fairly close, at 13-9, with Jesse “JESMUND” Terävä and Théo “LoWkii” Téchené seeming like great additions, but Haven was not. FPX IGL Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow pulled out the Phoenix for this map, and it was a stellar performance all around in a 13-1 win.
NIP and Guild played out a great semifinal semifinal. The match was incredibly close. NIP took the first map, Haven, before Guild battled back thanks to an incredible performance from Yacine “Yacine” Laghmari – 459 ACS on Bind! – to win 2-1.
Guild were firing on all cylinders, and the progress the team has made over the last weeks and months was obvious.
It was a bit disappointing on NIP’s side, with some of the fragging not showing up when it needed to, but on the flip side it’s another proof that this team is among the best in Europe. They’ll be another favourite to take Challengers 2.
Continuing a very odd trend of teams winning the first map but failing to close out the series, Opportunists started out their semifinal by taking the win on Haven against FPX.
It wasn’t to be, though, as FPX’s solid play brought them through the final two maps. This team is so practiced and knows exactly what they want to do, and when a team fails to adequately disrupt or challenge them as Opportunists did, they’ve made it very clear they’ll run over you. 13-7 and 13-4 put FPX through to EMEA Challengers Finals and the grand final of EU Challengers 1.
We got a big surprise right away to start off the grand finals – ANGE1 pulling out Reyna on Ascent. While the pick didn’t end up being incredibly impactful, the Sage’s on each side were – the map was a perfect example of why European teams still love this agent. Between Leo “Leo” Jannesson and Pontus “Zyppan” Eek, it seemed like we got a Resurrect every round, and both sides used it to massive advantage. Ultimately, FPX pulled away to win the map 13-9.
Reyna play continued for Icebox, with both Zyppan and Saif “Sayf” Jibraeel pulling out the pick. This time, though, the impact was crystal clear. Zyppan’s 523 ACS marks quite possibly the greatest statline ever recorded in a tier 1 professional game. He was all over the place, grabbing multikills seemingly every round, recording a big amount of first bloods, and snagging huge impact kills. By the end, the Zyppan show wrapped up at 13-5 FPX, and things were not trending well for Guild.
That continued moving over to Split. It was a dominant showing from FPX, not letting Guild get anything going, and by the midway point of the game, Guild looked completely out of it. To their credit, they managed to snag some late rounds, with William “draken” Sundin getting 5 kills on the final round, but it wasn’t enough. Split went 13-4 FPX, and the series was a dominant 3-0 sweep.
Final Standings for Stage 2 Challengers 1 Europe:
1. FunPlus Phoenix – €15,000 + qualification to EMEA Challengers Finals
2. Guild Esports – €10,000 + qualification to EMEA Challengers Finals
3-4. Ninjas in Pyjamas – €5,000
3-4. Opportunists – €5,000
5-8. Team Heretics
5-8. Team Vitality