Probably the most raucous crowd in CS:GO history awaited the teams heading into the ESL One Belo Horizonte Playoffs. With an electric atmosphere more akin to a football match in the packed Mineirinho Arena, would the Brazilians prevail or would their carnival crash and burn?
Semi-final 1: FaZe Clan 2 - 1 Team Liquid
FaZe were playing with Jørgen "cromen" Robertsen as a stand-in, whereas Liquid had their full lineup in Brazil. This was a big chance for Liquid to make another final and then cement a long-awaited tournament victory. FaZe started with a decisive 16 - 3 demolition of Liquid on Nuke. Liquid struck back with a 5 - 10 Terrorist half on Dust II. In the end they just about managed to hold the FaZe comeback at bay, ending 14 - 16 to take it to Mirage. Then it was one-way traffic for the Europeans as they squeezed the American roster out of the match, 16 - 7. Despite fanatical support from the crowd, local hero Epitácio "TACO" de Melo and Liquid fell to the FaZe onslaught. This incredible Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács 1v3 AWP clutch on Nuke, including a sick wallbang, set the tone for the series:
Semi-final 2: Mousesports 2 - 0 SK Gaming
The partisan Brazilian audience was at fever pitch as the teams entered the arena. Mousesports had to overcome a hostile crowd and a emotionally-charged SK. They did just that, even with the retired Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert standing in. Dust II was an easy 16 - 7 victory for Mouz which did a lot to deflate SK and silence the supporters. SK put on a better show on Train, with the map eventually tied at 12 - 12 before Mouz managed to swing the momentum and close it 16 - 12. It would be two teams fielding stand-ins that would face each other in the final. Here's super sub n0thing with a quad kill defensive spray down on Dust II:
Grand final: FaZe Clan 3 - 2 Mousesports
The karrigan-led FaZe are nothing if not showmen. Entering the arena wearing Brazil football jerseys, they managed to get the crowd on their side early for the best of five. It seemed to help as they came out swinging, resulting in a 16 - 6 drubbing on Inferno. On Cache it seemed to be more of the same as FaZe swiftly pulled out a 11 - 0 lead. Mouz then put up a heroic effort to eventually wrest the lead away and win the map after an incredible comeback, 14 - 16. The momentum seemed to have shifted as a rather quiet arena witnessed a 12 - 16 Train win for Mouz. As Mirage loomed, Mouz appeared the stronger of the teams. The turning point on Cache as chrisJ of Mouz won a 1v4 to start the comeback: Ropz and n0thing broke apart the defence on Train at a crucial point with dual double kill entries: It was not to be as FaZe emphatically replied and got the crowd on their feet with a 16 - 9 scoreline. The decider would be Dust II. FaZe used a blunt force trauma approach to beat Mouz down and close proceedings 16 - 10. It wasn’t high quality, coordinated Counter-Strike from either team thanks to their stand-ins. What it was, however, was chaotic, and the result was largely down to some incredible individual plays. Tournament MVP Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and his teammates had a little more of those in reserve than Mousesports and took the crown. FaZe have now claimed three victories in the Intel Grand Slam. Astralis are the only team that can deny them the $1 million prize now. There’s a lot to look forward to at ESL One Cologne in two weeks! Guardian helped seal the T half victory with a typically efficient 3K on Mirage: NiKo doing a sterling job on the secondary AWP on Dust II with a triple kill: Rain got the ace in the final pistol round to swing the decider in FaZe’s favour: Fancy looking back at the group stage action? Check out our highlights piece here.