Well that was a pretty exciting season, wasn't it?
Week after week of drama, intensity and raw emotion was what came to define SFV Season 2. Cheered on by raucous crowds, fiery personalities shone through both in play styles and pop-offs. The Grand Final itself might've felt like a slight anti-climax, but that we got such a shocking result at the end of a season full of them was in many ways appropriate. Let's attempt to break down SFV Season 2.
Envy's Road To Redemption
Unquestionably, the biggest story of Season 2 has to be Team EnvyUs. In Season 1 they came so close to capturing the trophy, only to fall just short against exceL in the Grand Final. A surprise defeat to Endpoint in Week 1 could've suggested a case of sophomore slump was in the works, but from there Envy regrouped and developed into a formidable fighting machine as the season went on. After finishing top of the league table, it was exceL who once again stood in Envy's way – and this time they were not to be denied.
A pulsating clash swung back and forth time and again, with an already passionate crowd reaching fever pitch as Nassim-Claw finally vanquished Infexious in the deciding game. Cue an eruption of cheers, Layo breakdancing onstage, and most importantly of all; redemption for Envy. From there it was a formality; there was nothing Prophecy could do to stop them in the Grand Final, and Envy swept home as deserving Season 2 champions.
So Close And Yet So Far for Prophecy
Speaking of Prophecy, it's unfortunate that their season will ultimately be defined by that brutal 4-0 defeat in the Grand Final. One result doesn't tell the full story, and for a team that didn't make playoffs in Season 1, they can ultimately still be happy with their progress in Season 2.
Four wins from four to start the season, including a 4-2 victory over the defending champions exceL, put the entire division on notice and helped secure a safe passage into Playoffs. Undoubtedly the highlight of their season was the spectacular 4-0 demolition of Infused in the semi-finals. Avenging the defeat to them in Week 5, the selection of supersub DarkMoonHado turned out to be a tactical masterstroke. Should he have kept his place for the final? Ultimately we'll never know if it would've made a difference. The fact of the matter is this, though: Prophecy can be very pleased with their 2nd place finish, and with such an exciting core roster, there's every chance they can make their own Envy-style run to the title in Season 3.
Infused Conquer The Streak
SFV was notable for having perhaps the most evenly-matched league table of all three Elite Series divisions. Prophecy looked for a time like if anyone was going to set a lengthy unbeaten run, it would be them – but Infused had other ideas.
It was overall a season of consolidation for Infused, but their victory over Prophecy in Week 5 will probably go down as their best performance of the season. They prevailed 4-3 in an epic encounter, demonstrating all the hallmarks of Infused at their best; grit, determination and unbridled passion from Gun Slinga, Shakz and co. That result coupled with clinching a losing bonus point in Week 7 ensured a second successive appearance in Playoffs; and whilst ImStillDaDaddy was visibly devastated after Prophecy gained revenge in the semi-finals, they remain one of the strongest teams in the division and not far off making a title charge in Season 3.
exceL's Stirring Title Defence
There's certainly no shame in not winning back-to-back championships in Elite Series, given no-one else managed that feat. Whilst they were the only reigning champions not to make the Grand Final of their league this time around, it wasn't for lack of trying for exceL. Early wobbles in Week 2 and 3 put them on the back foot early in the season and many would have folded under the intense pressure of their Week 7 playoff decider against Endpoint. But when your team contains players like Infexious and Hurricane, ice-cold focus and unflappable temperament is never in short supply, and a second appearance in playoffs was secured.
It also says a lot that both of their subsequent defeats to Envy were thrilling matches that went the distance; this was certainly a case of Envy improving and hitting new heights as opposed to any decline on exceL's part. Don't sleep on the former champions figuring that they are somehow past their best; they will almost certainly be in the hunt for the trophy once again in Season 3.
Reason = The People's Champions
On the face of it Reason’s SFV record was nothing to write home about; three wins from seven and a 7th place finish. But once again, statistics only tell half the story. After a winless first season, two losses to start Season 2 indicated the drought was set to continue. Then from out of nowhere, Reason's young guns struck to score a historic first ever victory in Week 3 – against no less an opponent than exceL, the reigning champions.
They then added a second win against Envy in Week 6 in one of the most entertaining and exciting matches all season; Ki113r_7's debut and whiteboard pop-offs will live long in our memories. Both matches, as well as their Week 7 victory over Epsilon, showcased the two key hallmarks of Reason in Season 2; hugely popular personalities like Ki113r_7 and team captain Undacuva, allied to spectacular young talent like SaltyKid and Boltstrike. The latter in particular showed incredible tenacity and nerves of steel to clinch the Envy victory, and will surely be a key figure in their squad going forward.
When making your predictions for Season 3, make sure you follow Rule #1: Respect Reason.