SK Gaming have earned yet another championship for the trophy case. After winning DreamHack Summer last weekend, SK narrowly defeated FaZe Clan at the SSE Arena in London to grab the Esports Championship Series Season 3 crown. Not only will SK take this momentum into ESL Cologne, it'll also secure a cool $250,000 for its troubles.
Finals for FaZe
FaZe Clan came into the final day of this tournament hoping to get its first big win since adding Nikola "NiKo" Kovač to the roster. While it won Season 3 of the StarSeries i-League, one team was noticeably absent from that tournament: SK Gaming. SK took down FaZe in the grand final of IEM Sydney, and the teams seemed destined to face off once again in London.
FaZe Clan started off well enough with a scorching series against North America's last hope, Cloud9. It took Game 1 on Overpass with relative ease after C9 failed to show up in the 16-5 FaZe win. FaZe did experience a bit of a scare in Game 2 on Mirage, however. C9 seemingly woke up after the Game 1 trouncing and took a 12-3 lead into the second half. However, FaZe Clan's NiKo and Håvard "rain" Nygaard came alive to take 13 straight rounds, sending the Americans packing and earning a spot in the finals.
SK Gaming gain upper hand in rivalry with Astralis
It seems like fate keeps bringing SK and Astralis together, as the teams have faced each other in the semifinals three times since last November. Astralis held a narrow 2-1 advantage heading into Sunday's matchup, having won the last two meetings. This was a matchup fit for a grand final, and the teams certainly played as such.
While Astralis may have taken the first map on Overpass by a score of 16-12, SK continued to play in peak form during the rest of the series. Things switched to Mirage for Game 2, and Astralis took some of the momentum from Game 1 into this game to take a 9-6 lead at the half. Astralis had clearly awakened the beast, as SK went on an incredible 10-4 run in the second half to take a 16-14 win, capped off by a blistering triple kill from Fernando "fer" Alvareng in Round 30 to push the series to a third map.
In the final tilt on Inferno, Astralis again displayed early game prowess, racing out to a quick 6-1 lead. But again, SK would not be denied. Led by Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and his always-reliable AWP, SK went on an incredible 13-4 run to take a 14-10 lead. While Astralis made things interesting with two more rounds, FalleN and fer tag-teamed to shut down the Danes and come up with the 16-12, grand finals-clinching win.
SK Gaming take gold
FaZe Clan made a statement early on in the grand finals against SK, taking a 10-2 lead on Mirage to open the first map. But as it had done all tournament long, SK made yet another comeback, bringing the score to 11-11 in the second half. FaZe would respond with a clutch performance of its own, winning the ensuing five rounds to claim a 16-11 map win.
Sticking to the trend, SK would fall into another early hole in Game 2, this time 4-1 in favor of FaZe Clan. But yet again, fer led SK to a 9-6 lead at the half with his 21/4 KD (kills/deaths) in the respective half. Not content to let SK have anything easy, however, rain manufactured a nice comeback for FaZe in the second half, eventually taking a 15-14 lead. After forcing overtime, SK would stabilize, cleaning up its loose ends to secure the 19-17 win.
It all came down to Train for the final game of the grand finals, and SK seemed ready to hoist the trophy in a hurry. The Brazilians were second to none in the first half, taking an 11-0 lead to start and then a 13-2 lead into the half. NiKo and FaZe weren't about to go away easily, however. NiKo brought his team all the way back to take a 15-14 lead, similar to Game 2, before SK would once again force overtime.
Despite the amazing comeback from FaZe, SK would regain its bearing in overtime, earning yet another 19-17 overtime win to take the ECS Season 3 title. FaZe Clan put up a valiant performance, but SK proved yet again that it is the cream of the crop in the world of Counter-Strike.