The first match of the day was Playing Ducks facing off with gBots for the third and final spot in the Katowice LAN finals. This was something I anticipated to be a very precise and careful display of gameplay from both teams to secure the coveted spot on the plane to Poland. Both teams had suffered only one loss during the regular season which was actually to the teams facing off for the 1st and 2nd seed, Penta and Gifu later after the match covered in here. The same fate was waiting for them again in the playoffs with the difference concerning these two teams switching places facing Penta and Gifu. So it is safe to say that these two teams facing off in the 3rd seed match is a very just and fair result reflecting the season on the whole.
As always we saw the map selection process at the start of the match and Ducks decided to get rid of Bank, Border and Kafe Dostoyevsky with gBots brushing aside Clubhouse, Consulate and not surprisingly Coastline as the last map left out. The first map to be played was Skyscraper picked by Ducks in defensive side start. gBots chose Oregon on defence for their pick and Chalet was deemed to be the decider on this one.
Map One: Skyscraper
The first round saw gBots stalling for too long in the drum room on their attack eventually forcing them to move on hastily against the depleting time supply resulting Ducks snatching an easy victory on BBQ/Kitchen site and first round on defence. After first we suffered our first rehost of the night with Renuilz from Ducks crashing his game but this was after his death so it did not affect the result of the round which went to gBots on their strong defence stalling Ducks out of the attack with time running out before the plant on Karaoke/Tea Room. On the third round, we saw Ducks building their defence on the same spot than gBots on the round before so it was an another visit to Karaoke/Tea site. This round went for Ducks defence again working the clock against gBots team this time getting the plant down in the dying seconds of the round but eventually losing all operators on defensive collapse to the site. Ducks eventually stretched their wings to take a 3-1 lead in their attack on Kitchen/BBQ which we saw gBots putting little emphasis on Geisha room hold resulting in a successful push to B site and a successful plant protect against defensive collapse. With Ducks trying to take a hold towards the match point gBots started attacking Kitchen/BBQ at the start of the 5th round.
5th round was all about z1ronic as a roaming Valkyrie bitchslapping gBots attack with his 4k performance resulting in a gBots collapse on 1-4 deficit on the Sskyscraper. So with match point in hand Ducks started the 6th round on attack to the gBots defensive site on Karaoke/Tea room. Baroz really stepped up on this round and with his, Mira plays effectively stalled Ducks in their final push to plant and disrupted the attack fatally and gave gBots a chance to fight again on this map. The 7th round saw us a continuing effort from gBots to keep their head above the water level with a very finesse display on the attack with a surgical performance of gunplay eventually wiping out the defenders one by one making it 3-4 for the Ducks and bringing gBots very largely back to the map. Also, there was a quite sneaky placement of Frost trap on this round so do check it out and steal it if you are a Frost player. On 8th round with Ducks still hanging onto the map victory and gBots showing signs of a beastly wake up it was time for Lacky to sweep the dust from his carry pants and put them on which resulted in an ace and the decisive round victory for Ducks to claim their chosen map eventually with a score of 5-3.
On the whole Playing Ducks looked much more comfortable on Skyscraper than gBots who often times looked out of sync and kind of clueless on some rounds nevertheless they managed to adjust and bring themselves to the striking distance eventually succumbing to a great individual effort from Lacky of the Ducks. We saw them hold their chosen map and it was time for us to go and see how gBots would handle their chosen map Oregon which should be quite familiar to both teams which Skyscraper looked out not to be for gBots.
Map Two: Oregon
A very traditional start in Oregon for gBots going Laundry/Supply room defence but not a very traditional pick of Caveira from DriD which is something not to be seen too often in the European scene of Pro League play. Even though we didn´t see too much from our lovely Brazilian lady we saw Ducks spreading out a bit too much maybe to effectively collapse on the site and they got picked by defenders eventually for gBots capitalising their defence and going 1-0 for starters. We also got to see a takedown from Bandit battery on this one which is a rarity in itself. Obviously, Ducks chose to defend the basement on their turn on the start of the 2nd round. Second round confirmed that gBots were on the move with a whole different foot on this map.Their attack was solid and sound to the last, unfortunately, it was Lacky´s stellar Mira play that denied them the plant in the end and clutched the round for Ducks to make it an even one a piece after two.
For the third round, gBots moved upstairs to hold Kids Dorms/Dorms Main site and this time Cav was left out for a more traditional lineup. Again we saw a shaky attack from Ducks resulting their operators being too far apart to effectively support each other which lead to a loss and gBots making it 2-1 in their favour. Next Ducks headed to hold Kids/Main to even the score in the 4th round. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of same from the Ducks in the 4th round then we saw from gBots in the whole Skyscraper map. Unsynced play resulting in odd looking decisions from individual players and that straightly affecting to the basic core performing considering timing, teamwork and gunplay.
So on the whole Ducks looking shaky on Oregon and gBots sitting 3-1 lead after 4. It was back to the basement for round 5 with gBots bringing Cav out again for the second time in this map hopefully having more impact this time than the first. This round did not add much to the already a grim display of Ducks gameplay on Oregon. weskeRR´s roam game pretty much broke off the attack at main stairwell and gBots moved to spot to take the map at 4-1 after 5.
For Ducks, it was time to make something happen or lose this map while taking defence in the basement again. This time showing signs of previous map´s cohesion Ducks managed to fend off gBots attack fairly easily to make it 2-4 and still a match point for the Spanish team. However, this proved out to be merely a stroke from the Ducks team failing to capitalise the master bedroom push on round 7 with gBots taking the map 5-2. Making the match score 1-1 pushing this showdown to Chalet.
Oregon proved out to be a mirror image of the first map with teams switching places. Ducks looked unorganised, stretched and cautious in a wrong way on this map and they only had a glimpse of fight in their two basement defences while other rounds were more or less walkovers from the gBots side. GBots really came together after a lacklustre showing on the first map which could have had a detrimental effect on their team and could have carried over here to this map they know and are much more comfortable with. This is a showing of really good team spirit and mental toughness that the team has. Going into Chalet Ducks need to do the same thing mentally to get a good result from a map that could be the most familiar and played in the Pro League scene.
Gbots started off nicely with their Kitchen/trophy defence covering all the angles and wiping out the Ducks attack at once in the end of the round. Having their turn to defend Ducks chose to go Master bedroom/Office site and with somewhat “not so usual” defensive strat on Ducks behalf they took this round with very good defensive performance and both teams were showing that this map is not decided on map familiarity so heavily than the first two. The third round brought us finally to Wine Cellar/Snowmobile for gBots defence. Ducks attack was really straight forward and aggressive which resulted in them to be slaughtered on the Snowmobile door one by one pretty early on and it really looked like a throw away win towards gBots who did not refuse of the gift given.
After falling behind 1-2 Ducks set up to defend Kitchen/Trophy and it seemed that the performance from the Oregon had made a mental stain to the team and their play had turned to somewhat stale and team was making poor individual choices one after another resulting gBots going up 3-1 on the decider with an exceptional nade play from wesskeRR to clinch the one on one at the end of round 4.
Round five started off with gBots taking hold of Kitchen/Trophy themselves and I am in danger here to actually just repeat myself but timing issues, lack of support and losing engagements seemed to be the downfall of Ducks yet again as gBots took a fairly easy win to advance to the 4-1 score and one round away from a trip to Katowice. With the match hanging in the balance Ducks set off to defend Master Bedroom/Office site but in all fairness what we saw them produce on Chalet so far, there is a very little indication for glorious come back this time. Round seven did not produce anything spectacular as gBots took their win to advance to the LAN finals in very comfortable way. Decider map Chalet went to gBots in commanding 5-1 score.
The 2-1 result was fair and gBots deserved their place in the LAN finals. They lost Skyscraper at the start perhaps due to not being so familiar with the map which always affects the whole performance of the team or just losing momentum and never gaining it back from the Ducks. On that map, their game was out of sync and relied more heavily on individual effort on team members than actual team play. After that, they pulled themselves together and Oregon was a very strong showing off their mental capacity as well as teamwork and individual skill. Only those two rounds mentioned earlier where the only time gBots were threatened on Oregon. The last map was very stellar and confident performance both team and on the individual level. Seemed that every decision and every action was going on gBots favour and basically that is how it looked when I was watching the match. In retrospect, there was no question which was the better team to advance to the finals. Furthermore, I was very impressed how gBots picked themselves after Skyscraper, I can not stress that enough and I really think that the mental toughness they showed will come haunt other teams in the LAN finals.
Playing Ducks came out very strong from the gate and were able to take away the first played map Skyscraper. They managed to weather the little pressure gBots rallied up towards the end and rightfully claimed the first map. After that, I am not sure what happened so this is purely me speculating on things I saw. I do not necessarily think that Ducks are that unfamiliar with Oregon than it looked but in all honesty that did not look the Ducks we have seen for the most part of the season. Like mentioned before they were scattered and did not offer support to each other, teamwork was not in sync, timings and gunfights were off and there was quite a lot of odd and also bad decisions by individual members. They managed to win two basement defences but on the other rounds, they were mostly manhandled by gBots. The last map started well but I think that something happened during Oregon that they were not able to either acknowledge or fix it because their play was even more off the mark than on Oregon and it actually gave gBots a fairly easy win in the decider. However to be fair, I still believe that Ducks are way better team than what we saw in this matchup and I am not taking away anything from the awesome display from the gBots but something happened after Skyscraper that affected the whole Ducks team and I am certain that guys go over that, address it and come back stronger than ever. Due to this the matchup was maybe not so high octane that I anticipated but sometimes these decider matches are.