The Cologne-hosted Gamescom, the most prominent gaming convention in Europe, was the site for the final of the ESL Meisterschaft Summer 2017 tournament.
In one of the more bizarre events of the weekend, PANTHERS Gaming claimed first place after originally failing to qualify for the four-team playoff.
PANTHERS Replace BIG
PANTHERS had finished fifth with an uninspiring 4-4 record. However, one of the favourites of the tournament, BIG, who claimed the second seed, were forced to withdraw from the event due to its conflict with the ELEAGUE Qualifier. This left the door open for PANTHERS Gaming to slide into the bottom seed, as the other two teams below BIG – EURONICS Gaming and ALTERNATE aTTaX – moved up one slot each.
The semifinals had a surprising outcome, with PANTHERS defeating the number-one-seeded Planetkey Dynamics, who, up until this point, had dropped just a single map all season long. While close games, at 16-9 and 16-13 respectively, it was rather shocking that a team that did not initially qualify for playoffs would not only win a series versus Planetkey, but in 2-0 fashion.
PANTHERS Take Early Finals Lead
PANTHERS showed no signs of slowing down as they entered the finals against EURONICS Gaming, impressing on the initial map of Overpass. Typically known as one of the most CT-sided maps due to its tactical complexity for the attacking T-side, PANTHERS leapt out to an impressive eight-to-zero start.
The ninth round saw EURONICS finally making a breakthrough, and when they followed with two rounds it seemed that they were slowly clawing their way back into the match. PANTHERS, however, quickly stomped out the rest of the half, defeating EURONICS in the final four rounds for the dominant 12-3 half. Given the previously mentioned CT-sided tendencies the opening round of the second half, in which players only have pistols, was of vital importance. PANTHERS continued their momentum from the first-half, claiming the first three rounds of their T-half to push the score to match point at 15-3. After dropping a single round, PANTHERS were able to secure the last round needed for the lopsided 16-4 victory. Three members of PANTHERS averaged a kill per round, with HighKitty leading the way with an impressive 22 kills.
EURONICS Draw Level on Cache
The next map was Cache, a level traditionally viewed as a very even map with an ability to come back on either side, depending on the momentum of the game. After losing the opening pistol, PANTHERS went on a seven-round win streak to take a commanding 7-1 lead. EURONICS rebounded well, however, earning six of the last seven rounds for the 7-8 score line at the half. PANTHERS opened up the second half by winning the next two rounds, before EURONICS went on an absolute tear. EURONICS only dropped two more rounds – one after winning three in a row, then one after five in a row – on their way to a 16-12 comeback victory. At the top of the scoreboard for EURONICS was syken, who secured 23 kills.
The final map was Train, which was the most hotly contested map of the series. After PANTHERS grabbed the opening three rounds of their T-side, EURONICS answered back in impressive fashion by winning nine of the next ten rounds. PANTHERS were able to claim the final two rounds of the half, however, to keep the game close at 6-9. Once again, PANTHERS secured the opening three rounds of a half before EURONICS countered, this time with EURONICS claiming six of seven to put themselves on map and series point at 15-11.
PANTHERS Triumph in Overtime
PANTHERS remained vigilant, battling back to win the final four rounds to force overtime, which consists of three rounds on each side, first to four wins. EURONICS opened up on the T-side, claiming two of the three rounds for the 17-16 edge heading into the second-half of overtime. From there it was all PANTHERS Gaming, who claimed all three rounds on their T-side to stun EURONICS and become champions of ESL Meisterschaft Summer 2017.
Sometimes circumstances change and it is up to a group to take advantage. PANTHERS certainly did with their surprise elevation to the playoffs as the team took home the almost-$12,000 first-place prize.