The Elite Series Season 2 Playoffs are finally upon us, and after a rollercoaster two months leading up to this point, we're here to remind you that despite everything so far, you ain't seen nothing yet. Our Season 2 SFV champions will be crowned this weekend, and by the end of play on Saturday we'll know our finalists for CS:GO and Rocket League. Let's break down the epic matchups we have on deck for you.
First up is a matchup some believe is worthy of the finals itself; Prophecy vs Infused. When we chatted to him earlier this week, Prophecy team manager Tatl said that he believes that if his squad can get past the Season 1 semi-finalists the trophy is theirs for the taking. You can see where he's coming from: despite finishing above Infused in the league table, Prophecy come in as slight underdogs, having lost to them 4-3 in Week 5. They also lack Infused's experience, making their debut in playoffs. One thing they certainly aren't short of, however, is talent; the core trio of Zera, Akainu and Shivryuken have executed incredibly well under pressure multiple times this season. Infused have game changers of their own in Gun Slinga and Shakz, and if ImStillDaDaddy can find top form again and match his wingmen's performances, they have every chance of going one step further than Season 1.
The second semi-final is a straight rematch of the Season 1 final, as Envy square off against exceL. On paper this is absolutely too close to call, but Envy's chances of gaining revenge for last season look reasonably good; they clinched a thrilling 4-3 win over the reigning champions in Week 5 and toppled Prophecy in Week 7 to finish top of the table. Nassim-Claw, TKR, Layo and Mr Crimson have made a habit of coming through clutch for Envy, with brash pop-offs belying nerves of steel. ExceL themselves faced a tense final few weeks, only securing playoff qualification with a nerve-shredding 4-3 victory over Endpoint. Their anchor players Infexious and Hurricane boast strong stats, with both winning over 65% of all the rounds they've competed in. If Envy can make a dent in those stats, they'll take a huge step towards consecutive finals.
Endpoint and Prophecy kick off Saturday's semi-final action with an intriguing battle. Cast your minds back to Week 5; Prophecy were unbeaten with four thumping victories, and defending champions Endpoint were recovering from a poor start to the season. One 3-0 shutout for Endpoint later, everything changed – Endpoint went on to win their final two matches and coast into playoffs in 2nd place, and conversely Prophecy would suffer two further 3-0 defeats and limp into the playoffs in 4th place. We seem to know what Endpoint team we'll get - one anchored by Cheerio's consistent goal threat and all-round organisation – but question marks remain over Prophecy. The core trio of Mummisnow, Sebadam and EyeIgnite are downright unbeatable on their best day, but after such a drastic downturn in results, can they lift themselves up to their best form once again? They'll need to, else Endpoint will move one step closer to defending their title.
In semi-final 2, spare a thought for poor Method. The Season 1 semi-finalists qualified for back-to-back playoffs relatively comfortably in 3rd, only to come up against the fearsome juggernaut that is Reason. A team unbeaten in Season 2, scoring goals for fun and shutting out teams week after week, including Method in Week 7. Worse, Method had several key players – including top goalscorer Mognus - missing for that defeat, and they won't be returning in time for this rematch. Let's be charitable here; Method are going to need a miracle.
Reason's CS:GO team also start as favourites, although there is a chink in their armour – and it was semi-final opponents Envy who revealed it in Week 1 by defeating them 16-12. A lot has changed since then however, as Reason would go unbeaten for the rest of the season. Their Danish squad has shown considerable resolve and an ability to not crumble under high pressure – see their epic 22-18 victory over defending champs Epsilon in Week 4 – which will put them in very good stead for the playoffs. Having said all of that, Envy also come in with huge momentum; it looked like they were out of contention by Week 5 after three straight defeats, but they picked themselves up off the canvas and took three crucial wins to qualify for playoffs. The final one was nothing short of a statement of intent; they smashed the reigning champions Epsilon 16-2 in one of the great CS:GO performances. Both teams come into this matchup in form, brimming with skill and determination; expect this one to go all the way.
Speaking of the defending champions, Epsilon go from that disastrous result straight into a semi-final with Endpoint; another team who lost in Week 7 but in far less spectacular fashion, succumbing to a 16-13 defeat to Prophecy. Couple that to Endpoint's victory over Epsilon in Week 6, and the omens start to look bad for Epsilon's quest to retain their crown. We know their Swedish squad is capable of great performances, anchored by the likes of Kevzy, Jayzwalkingz and Zinken, but they've looked far from invincible so far in Season 2 – especially when you also consider that epic defeat to Reason in Week 4. But a best-of-three format and championship-winning experience should help even the odds against Endpoint's British roster looking to advance into the finals for the first time.