In a highly anticipated semifinal matchup in European First Strike, it was Team Heretics who finally dethroned 6-time Ignition Series champions G2 Esports to advance to the final, sending G2 home in 3rd-4th place. An incredibly exciting series, everyone showed up for Heretics when they needed to to clutch out the win. Heretics will play the winner of SUMN FC and FunPlus Phoenix in the final.
Agent selection for the first map, G2’s pick Ascent, was as expected for both teams, with the exception of David “davidp” Prins picking up his old agent Sage. The pistol round went G2’s way off a simple A hit, and they also grabbed the first rifle round by shutting down Heretics’ retake on the same site. Add to that two eco round wins and G2 had an early 4-0 lead. After taking yet another rifle and eco, Heretics finally grabbed their first win on the seventh round with a good Sova ultimate from Dustyn “nieSoW” Durnas. They would take one more several rounds later thanks to some good Operator work by Melih “pAura” Karaduran, and end out the half with an eco win. But it was still all G2. They continually read Heretics’ defensive setups, and consistently found tremendous entries to stretch their lead. It was 9-3 at the half.
As the second half began, it was Heretics’ turn to start off strong, grabbing the pistol round, eco, rifle round, and follow-up eco. Thanks to calm, collected hits on the B site, the score was quickly made 9-7. Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks very nearly clutched a 1v5 on A site, but couldn’t, leading Heretics to even up the score before G2 finally shut down their presence on A and won their own first round of the half. But their economy wasn’t great, and Heretics capitalized. Some very nice macro work from the team always lead back to the B site, until it didn’t, and an explosion onto A caught G2 completely off guard. One more mixed buy from G2 helped Heretics close out the game, and the comeback was complete. The map ended 13-10, and Heretics took a 1-0 series lead.
Agent picks were mostly standard on Bind, no Vipers or anything more interesting this time around. To kick off the map, G2 continued the trend of teams winning the pistol and the first rifle round to open up large leads. They began working the map aggressively and picking Heretics apart, with Oscar Cañellas “mixwell” Colocho’s Raze tearing up the server. Things were beginning to look similar to Ascent, and just like Ascent, Heretics slowed things down to give themselves some hope going into the half. Things ended 8-4 in favour of G2.
Despite niesoW continually doing damage with pistols, the opening round of the half went to G2, giving them a great advantage as they converted the eco to hit double digits. They won the third round as well, but a force buy from Heretics combined with a great lurk from Christian “loWel” Garcia Antoran on the Sage gave Heretics a fighting chance. Two B hits and two great B holds ultimately gave G2 the map 13-5. They had fought right back, and we were headed to map 3.
niesoW picked up Reyna for Split, the same pick he had rolled out against Team Liquid, while for G2, ardiis rolled out Breach. The pistol round was a relatively simple cleanup for Heretics on A site, and while G2 force bought for Round 2, niesoW and Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas pulled off the clutch to stave them off. Another force buy and another loss gave Heretics a 4-0 lead. G2 began to find clean entries onto B, though, and their holds were mostly flawless. Clutches by niesoW and Melih “pAura” Karaduran gave Heretics the only other rounds they’d get, and it was tied 6-6 at halftime.
G2 won the pistol by shutting down Heretics’ rotation from Mid to A, but subsequently lost the conversion against only pistols from Heretics. A 4k from ardiis holding in the back of B bailed them out though, and the teams continued to trade rounds in fast, exciting fashion. Things were back and forth, with clutches, multikills, site fakes, and everything in between. G2 would win one, Heretics would respond. G2 would grab two in a row, making it look like they were pulling away, before Heretics would answer in kind. Finally, lowel and pAura clutched a 2v3 that looked completely in G2’s favour, and at 12-11 Heretics, it would be either overtime or a 13-11 win. It was the former, as an ace from nukkye on the B site closed the match out. Heretics had pulled off the upset.
First Strike Europe Regional Final