With such drama in SFV and Reason's Rocket League team sweeping aside everyone in their path, was CS:GO Season 2 slightly underwhelming by comparison? Far from it. With the matches adjusted to a Best-Of-1 format, we were treated to much punchier and more aggressive contests and a playoff race that went right down to the wire. Envy taking inspiration from their SFV team and romping home to an emphatic victory in the final still made for a fitting climax to the season.
Envy Are Epsilon's Kryptonite
A lot of the big stories in Season 2 revolved around reigning champions Epsilon. With their sister teams struggling so badly, a lot of pressure was on the CS:GO squad's shoulders to anchor the franchise and defend their title. Ultimately their record of making a second consecutive Grand Final would suggest a relatively successful season – but if we learned one thing in Season 2, it's that Envy are most definitely Epsilon's kryptonite.
After a semi-final defeat in Season 1 to Prophecy, Envy started Season 2 on the back foot with just one win in their first four matches. Avenging that semi-final loss in Week 5 helped them turn things around, and it all came down to their Week 7 clash with Epsilon. The stakes couldn't be higher – nothing less than a big win and denying Epsilon a losing bonus point would do for Envy. Few were prepared for what would happen next, though – an utterly brutal 16-2 domination as the reigning champions were spectacularly swept aside.
A few weeks later the two teams met again in the Grand Final, and no-one expected the same result. This would be a different Epsilon team, one that would be better suited to the Best-of-5 format of the Grand Final. Ultimately, lightning did strike twice – and indeed three, then four times as Envy destroyed Epsilon 16-4, 16-9 and 16-3 in consecutive games to emphatically take the trophy. In the end it almost didn't matter what Epsilon did in terms of map choice, tactics or anything else – Envy well and truly had their number in Season 2, and Epsilon will have to solve this conundrum to have any chance of regaining their title in Season 3.
Reason's New Faces Clinch A Double-Overtime Epic
Reason's dramatic transformation was felt across the board in Season 2, and although their CS:GO squad didn't quite hit the same heights as their Rocket League brethren, it was still a vastly improved campaign. After just one win in Season 1, the decision was taken to tear down and rebuild the roster from scratch with a new-look Danish lineup, one that team owner Adam Heath had previous knowledge of. A loss to Envy in Week 1 was a false dawn, and Reason went on an epic run of six straight wins to finish top of the table and help secure the Franchise Championship. Frustratingly we won't know just how far they could've gone in playoffs, as the team had to forfeit their semi-final against Envy due to illness in desperately unlucky circumstances.
So instead let's focus on their greatest moment in Season 2; THAT double-overtime victory over Epsilon in Week 4. Perhaps the match of the season, it was a truly incredible contest as two titans of the division went blow for blow. Epsilon's experienced lineup looked to be marching towards victory at 13-7, but Reason's young guns dug deep and really showed just what they are capable of under pressure, denying Epsilon multiple match points before eventually prevailing in multiple overtimes. As impressive as the likes of Basso, TeSes and KS were in this match and all season, special praise must go to ZEO; a British substitute called up on the morning of the match, he slotted in and played his part alongside his Danish counterparts in a brilliant match.
The Decline of Prophecy
Season 1 finalists Prophecy will have felt confident about going one step further in Season 2 but unfortunately it was far more a case of one step forward, three steps back. Just two wins from seven in Season 2 and a 7th place finish was a poor return for the largely Bulgarian roster, and for the most part they seemed to struggle as other teams took large strides forward. They at least ended the campaign on a high with an impressive 16-13 victory over semi-finalists Endpoint, and so have a little momentum going into Season 3 – what they do next in terms of roster recruitment is vital. Do they rip it up and start again like Reason, or identify key talents and build around them?
Honours Even Between Endpoint And Epsilon
In comparison to the other big hitters, Endpoint flew relatively under the radar in Season 2. However, there's no ignoring their improvement across the board which yielded a first appearance in Playoffs, with their campaign ultimately defined by two key clashes with Epsilon.
The first came in Week 6, with Endpoint knowing that securing ten rounds would surely guarantee their place in Playoffs for the first time. In a fascinating battle on the rarely-used Nuke map, they went one better – defeating the reigning champions 16-14 in an engaging contest featuring moments of individual brilliance from the likes of MightyMax and Stan1ey.
Just three weeks later came the rematch, as the two faced each other once more in the semi-finals. The Best-of-3 format meant Endpoint would have to repeat their heroics twice, and they started off strongly to lead 5-2 in Game 1. But Epsilon wouldn't be fooled again, and had clearly done their homework from that first contest – they adapted time and again to Endpoint's tactics, and combined with some brilliant individual moments from the likes of Ericip, they were able to see off Endpoint's advances 16-12 and 16-4. When the Season 3 matchups are released, mark your calendars – you won't want to miss the moment these two sides renew hostilities.