We predicted excitement, drama and thrills in the Gfinity Elite Series playoffs, and that's exactly what we got. We also got side orders of controversy, whitewashes and even some breakdancing, which were unexpected but only helped add to a crazy first weekend of playoffs. With new SFV champions crowned and the Rocket League & CS:GO finalists set, let's run down the wild weekend that was.
The semi-finals got off to a shocking start as Prophecy blew away Infused 4-0. This was a Prophecy team who entered the matchup as underdogs, having lost to the more experienced Infused squad during the regular season and in playoffs for the first time. Ultimately none of that mattered one iota – after Zera downed GunSlinga in the opening round, Prophecy's young stars never looked back. On paper the selection of sub DarkMoonHado over regular star Shivryuken was questionable, but Hado more than justified his selection by seeing off Imstilldadaddy in Round 3 to stall any potential comeback effort. Meanwhile, Akainu was once again the anchor for his team, defeating Shakz twice to send Prophecy storming into their first ever final – and ending Infused's journey at the semi-final stage once again.
The other semi-final was much closer. An epic rematch of the Season 1 final saw Envy eliminate reigning champions exceL 4-3 in one of the most entertaining SFV matches of the season. Similar to Prophecy, Envy also went with a surprise team selection, leaving out Layo to make room for TKR and Mr Crimson alongside stalwart Nassim-Claw. It seemed to pay off initially as Envy raced into a 2-0 lead, before Brian helped exceL turn the tide spectacularly and lead 3-2. Under immense pressure with no room for error, TKR downed Brian to set up the deciding round – and as two of the best players all season went head-to-head, Nassim-Claw defeated Infexious in a titanic final round to spark wild celebrations (and breakdancing from Layo!) and send Envy into back-to-back finals.
What then followed in the Grand Final was perhaps the most shocking result of all; a dominant Envy victory, as they destroyed Prophecy 4-0. Differing selection strategies set the tone for the final; Prophecy brought Shivryuken back in at DarkMoonHado's expense, whereas Envy went with an unchanged lineup from their semi-final. Naturally after such a one-sided result, questions were asked of Prophecy's lineup, but here's the truth of the matter; Envy were nigh-on unstoppable.
Coming off that epic semi-final win, confidence levels were sky-high, and any Prophecy team would've struggled to halt their march. Right from the moment TKR fought off Zera in the opening round, the match quickly became an Envy masterclass; Nassim-Claw and Mr Crimson playing with all the flair and precision execution of a champion team, as they despatched Shivryuken and Akainu with what seemed like relative ease to spark jubilant scenes in the Gfinity Arena. Prophecy will rightfully be gutted to not even fire a shot in the final, but the scoreline doesn't reflect just how impressive a season this young squad have had; they will only get better from here, using the experience learned this time round to bounce back for Season 3. This was Envy's moment to shine, and deservedly so; the Season 1 runners-up will enjoy their day in the sun.
Defending champions Endpoint moved into back-to-back finals with a repeat of their Week 5 victory over Prophecy, edging a thrilling match 4-3. We predicted Prophecy could be in trouble with three straight big defeats to end the league season, and though they came up just short here, this was much closer to top form from Mummisnow, Sebadam and EyeIgnite. From trailing 2-0 and 3-1 down in the match, they launched a spectacular comeback to take the match to a deciding round. Such a heart-stopping contest was always going to be decided on fine margins, and Endpoint's superior execution saw them home; Tinny was the MVP with a magnificent solo goal from halfway and a save off the line in the dying seconds. He and his teammates roared with delight at the final whistle, and deservedly so – the reigning champions advancing into their second final.
The other semi-final was a lot more straightforward; Reason powered to a 4-0 victory over Method to send the dominant force of Season 2 into their first Grand Final. Lacking star players Mognus and Metsanauris, Method's 'reserve' lineup fought bravely, but it's difficult to see how any team at any strength can possibly stop this rampant Reason team. Rix Ronday, Borito B and Tigree have formed a phenomenal partnership, and the results tell the story; eight wins from eight matches, only three rounds dropped all season, and this result was their sixth whitewash of Season 2. Ronday was downright unplayable in this contest, and his flair and spectacular goals sent Reason storming into their first final – and despite their opponents being reigning champions Endpoint, it's hard to look past Reason going all the way in Season 2.
Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to deny us of Semi-Final 1; Reason's roster was hit with food poisoning, and with a replacement player not arriving in time, there was no choice but to DQ Reason and advance Envy to the finals.
That left us with only one semi-final for CS:GO, and it evolved into a fascinating contest as reigning champions Epsilon booked their place in back-to-back finals, defeating Endpoint 16-12 on Mirage and 16-4 on Cobblestone to prevail 2-0. Endpoint started strongly edging into a 5-2 lead, but the story of the match was Epsilon adapting to Endpoint's tactics and growing into the contest. Super-sub Xaisty slotted into the side with ease, and the likes of Ericip and Jayzwalkingz hit top form and consistent high-quality frags to check Endpoint's momentum time and again. Endpoint just kept falling short; a comeback from 13-6 late in Round 1 came to nothing, and several crucial clutch rounds in the first half of Round 2 went Epsilon's way with some spectacular individual performances. Eventually Endpoint ran out of steam altogether, leaving Epsilon to sail to victory and into back-to-back finals.
Whilst Envy celebrate their SFV victory, it will be Endpoint vs Reason and Envy vs Epsilon in next week's Rocket League and CS:GO finals. Trust us, you won't want to miss any of it. CLICK HERE to head over to our events page and buy tickets for the finals of the Elite Series – and if you can't make it down, you can watch all the action on our Twitch channel HERE.