Last week we witnessed the long awaited ELEAGUE Major unravel in front of our eyes. The tournament had great production, intense competition, and an eccentric crowd. Viewership was amazing, which is expected for a tournament of its scale. The major was one of the most watched CS tournaments of all time, and also broke the record for most concurrent viewers for a stream on twitch. CS events are only getting bigger and better.
The Eleague major was not like traditional majors we’ve seen for so long. The old legends NiP failed to qualify, making this the first ever major without the Swedish side. Then, we saw a playoffs bracket with no French teams, no American teams, and no JW-flusha duo. The major also used the swiss system over the standard GSL for the group stage. On top of all that, this was the first major to be broadcasted on television. With all those differences, it’s time for us to evaluate the tournament. Here are four takeaways of the ELEAGUE Major.
1. Preparation leads to higher levels of competition
As obvious as it may seem, the time off before the major increased the level of competition at Atlanta. This is the first major in a long time where teams had plenty of time to prepare and practice for the major. With ECS Season 2 Finals ending the season, teams had over a month to polish and refine their game for the major in Atlanta. We saw incredible playoff series in Astralis vs Natus Vincere, Virtus.Pro vs North, Virtus.Pro vs SK Gaming, and of course Astralis vs Virtus.Pro. The offseason provided time for players to re-energize and show up with their A-game.
The one month break allowed for teams to iron out their problems. Na’vi, who were a disaster at ELEAGUE Season 2 and IEM Oakland, showed a massive improvement on T-side tactics and CT-side coordination. SK Gaming, who looked horrendous with fox and ECS Season 2 Finals, used to offseason to rebuild the team around fox. While they are not the SK that won back-to-back majors, the Brazilians still managed top 4 in Atlanta, an amazing feat with a stand-in. North looked like a one-hit wonder, having all the talent to succeed but showing disastrous results after Epicenter. They proved they deserved to be recognized as elite in their series with Virtus.Pro. The Danes played at an elite level but loss cobblestone in a heartbreaking fashion to VP in plow mode. As a result, narrowly losing the match 1-2. The break created intense competition that really developed and enriched the tournament.
2. The pros and cons of the Swiss System
The group stage of the major used the Swiss system over the standard GSL system. The new system is far superior to the GSL format for both the players and spectators. The players only needed to play one match a day, letting them rest and relax for their next match. Teams needed to win three matches to advance, giving them more breathing room after losing a match. The group stage was a blast to watch, unlike GSL groups. The format allowed us to watch teams face many opponents, instead of just three others. Also, the Swiss format prevented groups of death, such as group D at Cologne 2016 and group C at ELEAGUE Season 2.
Although the Swiss system is miles better than GSL, there are still some problems that stand out. A problem that carried over from the old system is the lack of proper seeding. With such a long break between majors, seeding using the “legend” status is terribly inadequate. Roster changes, slumps, and other factors can change a team’s level drastically. For example, at Atlanta, Flipside and Team Liquid were seeded higher than North and Optic. Optic was forced to face Vp and Astralis in their first two matches because of poor seeding, which led to the Americans being eliminated in groups. We need reliable seeding to make group stages more exciting and less rng-based. Whether the seeding is from a panel of experts, or a site like hltv, or maybe even from the tournament organizers themselves, seeding by “legend” status needs to go.
3. The ELEAGUE Major’s Veto system
The ELEAGUE Major used an unconventional veto process that was simply awful. The Major used a ABABA ban process, in which a randomizer decided the last map between the two remaining. The team who only got to ban two maps could decide what side they wanted to be on. The problem with this veto procedure is that 9/10 times the map matters much more than what side you start on. This veto system lead to a much higher upset chance than normal. Going forward, this veto process should be avoided.
4. The Resilience of Astralis
One cannot forget the heart-stopping final that was gifted to us in Atlanta, perhaps the best finals series of CS:GO major history. The intense brawl went to all three maps and all 30 rounds on the last two maps. It was a series that pushed both teams to the absolute limit. Virtus.Pro was in full plow mode and had Astralis with their back against the walls. They were consistently locking down the Astralis superstar, device. However, they did not collapse under Vp’s choke hold. Here we observed the resilience that Astralis have gained under the leadership of gla1ve. When device could not perform for the team, everyone else stepped up. Dupreeh held his own by providing firepower, Xpy9x saved the Danish side by winning key clutches, and Kjaerbye unlocked the superstar within him, performing as the MVP for the series. In the end, Astralis took home the trophy, overcoming the Polish juggernaut. As we head into Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas, I hope the two teams meet again, as this could develop into the rivalry of a lifetime.
Photo Credit: ELEAGUE