The crumbs have fallen into place for the qualifiers, as the four teams for the BenQ Zowie eXTREMESLAND LAN Finals for Australia have been decided over the past weekend.
For the teams who have made it through, their focuses now turn to one another as they look to take out the ANZ spot for the Regional Finals. But before they can book their tickets they have two more battles to fight as they fly down to the Melbourne Esports Open this weekend for more exciting CS:GO action
SEMI FINAL 1: Chiefs (1st) vs Legacy (4th)
The El Clásico of Australian Esports appears once more.
After a tight OPL Gauntlet Final on Sunday, these two orgs will fight again for another grand final spot, albeit on a different field of battle. But for this fight at least, the odds seem just a little clearer.
With a dominant performance closed qualifier, seeing them only drop one map against Tainted Minds, the Chiefs have stormed into the LAN Finals with an unexpected 1st Seed. Flying off the back of an strong month online, they seem to have solidified themselves recently as the constant challenger to ORDER, Tainted Minds and Grayhound. But their biggest strength is their performance on LAN.
Having won three out of their past four offline finals (Gfinity Elite Series being the only exception), the Chiefs know how to perform at LAN, something that has eluded both ORDER and Tainted Minds in recent times.
They come into this LAN as the dark horse, but they are all but ready to cause an upset.
After being called up last minute to the closed Qualifier with the withdrawal of Grayhound, Legacy were able to make it through to MEO with only a few hiccups along the way. In other tournaments, the trees have had mixed results, having lost 0-2 against Grayhound in ESL AUNZ while gaining a few 2-0’s at the start of the league.
But the winds are changing for the trees.
With the recent departure of their coach SnypeR, the players will go into the event relying on the minds of Lons and BL1TZ to guide them through the matches. And without their mentor behind them, Legacy may just lose that guidance at a critical point.
At their last encounter on LAN, the Chiefs put Legacy to bed, defeating them 3-0 (Bo5) in the Grand Finals of the CGPL LAN Finals at the end of July.
However, both maps were decided by a margin of 6 or less, so Legacy may rock the crib once more if the Chiefs aren’t careful.
While the Legacy upset is definitely a possibility, it’s hard to see Chiefs losing this El Clásico fight.
Legacy still need more time to gel, and maybe even a change before they can become a constant challenger for the Top Tier in our region. Meanwhile for the Chiefs, they have fire in their guts, a good chance at an international LAN and are looking to catch their critics flat-footed.
However, it won’t be a cakewalk for them, so don’t be surprised to see the third map being played in this battle.
The Call: CHF to win 2-1
SEMI FINAL 2: ORDER (2nd) vs Tainted Minds (3rd)
ORDER vs Tainted Minds, a combination more common than bread and butter. This will be their 12th encounter this year, but the drama never seems to dissipate.
From the Bo5 reverse sweep for the IEM Katowice Spot to tense LAN finals, this battle will always bring the hype a tournament needs.
So how will this encounter turn out?
After making it to the Regional Finals last years when under the Kings banner, ORDER will be looking to make back to back appearances. And after a confident closed qualifier campaign, they enter this tournament as most peoples favourites to win this LAN.
But ghosts do haunt them.
While they have been blistering in recent online battles, ORDER lost their higher seeding game against Chiefs 0-2, and have had some gremlins at LAN in recent memory. However, with more another shot at an international LAN on the line, expect the army of ORDER to come in with all guns blazing as they look for their second eXTREMESLAND Regional Finals.
The perennial bridesmaids looks for victory once more.
Tainted Minds have had the monkey on their back for the past year, repeatedly coming in the place dividend spots for the past year against the likes of ORDER and Grayhound. But they continue to knock on the door. With every LAN they attend, they seem to get closer with every attempt, edging closer to becoming the bride instead of the bridesmaid.
And with one of their fiercest opponents overseas, this may be the event we see TM break the trend.
At the last encounter between these two, it was ORDER who took an dominant 2-0 win over TM in the ESEA Mountain Dew League Playoffs.
But this seems to be the outlier.
Most games against these teams have been thrilling and tight, with no quarter asked nor given by either side. Yet it is ORDER coming into this fight with the historical advantage, holding a 7 – 4 match advantage over Tainted Minds this year.
This game is the closer of the two Semis for a reason.
Both of these teams can get the victory on their day, but the question will be who will turn up. Will it be the overconfident ORDER, who overextend and have to rely on individual plays to save them from potential embarrassment? Or will we see the army at their best, waiting for the opportunity to pounce, giving the respect that their opponents deserve while punishing their slightest mistakes?
Similarly, what version of the brains will arrive at MEO come Saturday? Will it be the the bridesmaids, who can’t get out of the shadow of the Top 2? Or will they finally break their curse and finally get their LAN monkey off their back.
I expect a three map thriller with multiple overtimes and ORDER coming out the battered victors.
But never doubt those with Tainted Minds, as they will be coming out with all guns firing.
The Call: ORDER to win 2-1
GRAND FINAL PREDICTION: CHIEFS v ORDER
So, if I am proven to be the all-knowing pundit that I am and the favourites make it through, how will the final play out?
The Grand Final will be a Bo5, meaning 3 maps are needed to qualify for the Regional Finals.
But who will be in the box seat in the favourites scenario?
For most, it’ll be ORDER to take home an easy victory.
But as I stated earlier, this iteration of the Chiefs have been looking good at LAN and have defeated ORDER before at a LAN Final before. However, if ORDER don’t get cocky, and get the early control of the game, then I expect it to be ORDER taking the win and booking their seats to Shanghai. If the Chiefs stay calm, survive the open salvo and force ORDER to make mistakes, then the Chiefs may just have it.
No matter what happens at MEO though, these two days of CS:GO will be packed full of intense action and nail biting moments throughout.
All these teams want to go to Shanghai for the Regional Finals, but only one can make it through this weekend.