Summary: We checked out the CPL Extreme World Championship West Coast Qualifiers while down in LA, witnessing Rival's hard-fought victory over F1 late at night. But rather than bore you to death with verbal descriptions, we have 50MB of demo files ready for download. Come on in and check it out!
The big-time nature of the event and Counter-Strike as a competitive arena made themselves known at a few points during the proceedings, but generally the show went off without a hitch. I was only able to catch the end of the winner's bracket proceedings, the conclusion of the loser's bracket and of course the all-important finals. It should be noted that Rival displayed a remarkable degree of easy-going professionalism as D!E and Formula1 battled it out, maintaining the poise of a champion despite having fought their way from the loser's bracket.
D!E, which had defeated Rival earlier in the double-elimination winner's bracket, found that revenge was a dish best served cold (really cold, given the timeframe involved) as Rival took it upon themselves to school them in the matter. Despite their highly competitive nature, D!E wasn't able to pull out the meaningful win against Rival when it counted, and ended up ceding the spot for the finals.
F1 and Rival had thus far managed to avoid meeting each other at the qualifiers and the stage was set. F1 had earlier sent D!E to the loser's bracket to face Rival again, whereas the latter had both won and lost against D!E. The pundits favored Formula1, but F1 had a long layoff after their protracted earlier battle with D!E, while Rival managed to warm up against D!E in the loser's bracket right before the finals came around. Continuing the contrary streak that had been with me since I bet on the Brazilians in the MOHAA World Championships, I put my money on Rival and proceeded to observe the finals.
It's been a long time since I watched competitive CS, Canada simply doesn't have that huge of a scene (certainly nothing concentrated like in southern California), and unlike the US, Canadian teams are spread far and wide across the country. Demos can give you an idea of how a match plays out, but seeing the competition live on a LAN is something else. The level of competition has really gone up over the past four years, not only do team members have incredible individual skills and a general ability to adapt to the situation, but everyone has their strategies down pat.
While I'm not sure of a volley of all three grenades thrown simultaneously by all team members - enough to seemingly block out the sun for a second - is exactly a real-world tactic, Counter-Strike played competitively is almost there. Teams move together, cover doors, ladders, peep under train cars and from windows. Attackers flow forward if at all possible, stopping for a slugging match only if necessary. Commands, warnings and acknowledgements are tossed back and forth… and all of a sudden, it's over and time to restart. The consistency with which teams have milked every advantage of a map means that even the most balanced maps are usually blowouts, with the advantaged side winning 80% of the time.
The matches in the finals were extremely close, resorting to two tie breakers before Rival came out on top. Rival's performance impressed a few CS regulars who were sure that the parting of ways with one of their better known players, Ph33R, earlier this year, would have disrupted the team (he returned just a few days ago, incidently).
You can find all tournament results over at iGames.
Congratulations to all finalists and to Rival for winning the tournament and getting on their way to the championships!
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