In a tournament stacked to the brim with top tier competition, mousesports managed to take home first place at StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4.
Mousesports struggle in group stage
Mousesports came in as a middle-of-the-road team, with limited expectations compared to the likes of SK Gaming, FaZe Clan, and Cloud9. However, the German side gained momentum throughout the tournament, assisted by a number of upsets along the way. In the best-of-three Swiss system, where each team plays against squads with the same record (with three wins to go through to the playoffs, and three losses to be eliminated), mousesports barely skated through with a 3-2 record. Mousesports looked in decent form during the group stage, with victories over Virtus.pro, SK Gaming, and Cloud9, while falling to both G2 Esports and Team Liquid.
Rematch in the quarterfinals
Mousesports’ quarterfinal opponents were G2 Esports, who they had lost to previously 1-2 in a round-three high matchup. This was all too similar to G2’s performance at the Major, where after dominating the group stage, they fell in the quarterfinals in a one-sided fashion. Mousesports easily dispatched the French side 16-7 on Inferno and 16-11 on Mirage, the same two opening maps as the group stage, putting them into the semifinals against the other opponents they had lost to earlier in the event, Team Liquid.
This semifinal was incredibly odd, as the match going to three maps would suggest a hotly contested series –yet each individual game was lopsided to an astonishing degree. Mousesports continued their outstanding performance on Mirage, controlling the map for a 16-7 victory. Liquid then countered by cruising on Cobblestone 16-4, before mousesports dominated one of Team Liquid’s best maps, Train, to the tune of 16-9. Mousesports began to look in top form starting at this point, given the previous series appeared to be more about a struggling G2 Esports, at least in the playoffs, while this dominating effort was against the blazing-hot Liquid, who have excelled since the addition of NAF.
Na`Vi not so S1mple to defeat
Shockingly, due to a myriad of upsets primarily off the back of S1mple, Natus Vincere ended up being the finals opponents for mousesports. Early on, mousesports struggled to find any form of success on Overpass, where, as an entire unit, the team struggled. While expected on such a poor map for Mouz, a 7-16 stomping was certainly not the start they had hoped for. On Mirage, mousesports’ fortune quickly changed as they jumped out to an 11-4 CT (counter-terrorist) side. Na`Vi climbed all the way back, however, amassing a 15-14 lead before Mouz claimed the final round, leading to Overtime. After a 3-3 Overtime, double Overtime was required, where mousesports finally looked like the dominant Mirage team they had been all-tournament long, sweeping the initial four rounds of double OT for the narrow 22-18 victory.
Even in defeat, S1mple had an incredible match, posting an astonishing 43 kills, while conversely for Na`Vi, Zeus somehow only had eight. The momentum from Mirage carried over to Train, where once again Mouz found an 11-4 first half, this time on the T side. Navi gathered the first five rounds of the second half to make the score look closer than the game actually was, as mousesports then secured the final five rounds needed for the 16-9 and the championship.
The MVP for this event, for one of the first times ever, was S1mple, a player not on the winning team. S1mple’s play throughout the entire tournament was second to none as he emerged as the best player in the world for 2018 thus far.
For mousesports, this tournament showed how key a map pool can be, as overall, their talent does not compare to many of the top teams in the scene today. However, the combination of becoming arguably the best team in the world on Mirage, one of the most popular maps, coupled with their willingness to play Nuke, the least-played map, makes them an incredibly difficult team to pick and ban against. This should continue for mousesports, but teams will look to exploit the likes of Train and Overpass in the future should mousesports show this promise in upcoming events.