What Happened in Esports over the Weekend?

The answer is: quite a lot.
What Happened in Esports over the Weekend?

It's Monday, so as usual, we've got a full weekend of esports action to recap - and this was a busy one.

Overwatch League returns

Let’s kick things off with the Overwatch League, which was back from a ten day break for the start of Stage 2. With new maps, a new meta and plenty of new players, it’s safe to say there was a lot to watch out for. First up, Florida Mayhem impressed against NYXL, despite eventually going on to lose. The team, who finished the first stage in 11th place, previously struggled due to their miniscule six man roster. But, after signing four new players, it looks like they might just make it out of their slump, once the team have had time to work on communication and cohesiveness. Houston Outlaws also continued to prove their critics wrong. The team entered the league with low expectations, and despite finishing the first stage in second place, many assumed the new meta would see them struggle. That wasn’t the case though, with the team decisively taking down London Spitfire and Boston Uprising. Of course, one match we couldn’t wait for was Saturday’s game between London Spitfire and NYXL, which saw the Stage One title winners take on the team who finished top of the table. Unfortunately, NYXL were on the back foot, with shot caller ArK out with a wrist injury and tank Mano forced to play support - and it definitely showed. However, London weren’t playing their best either, with the absence of newly transferred players Fissure and Rascal definitely playing a part in their scrappy strategy. In the end, London just pulled through, but neither team looked in top form.

NA & EU LCS head into week six

On to League of Legends, which saw the NA and EU LCS move into their sixth week of the season. In Europe, the top of the table was pretty crowded, with G2, Fnatic and Vitality all fighting for first place. And with the top spot so heavily contested, we had plenty of intense matches to watch out for. Saturday’s match-up between G2 and Fnatic was a good one, with both teams attempting to knock the other down the table. Of course, as we mentioned last week, G2 player Wadid complained on Twitter about the frequent LoL patches mixing up the meta every two weeks, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that he wasn’t entirely across the changes - and despite G2 taking an early lead, their poor late-game play eventually saw the team toppled by Fnatic. In North America, the table is looking a lot more orderly, with Echo Fox firmly in first place, closely followed by Cloud9. Despite that, there were still some surprises to be had - in particular, TSM’s frankly ridiculous win against Echo Fox. After all, sixth place taking on the team at the top of the standings doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, but with a huge bot lane performance from Mithy and Zven, as well as Bjergsen on Galio, the team pulled off a pretty incredible upset. In addition, former joint leaders Team Liquid have recently slipped down the table, so their match against Echo Fox on Sunday was definitely one to watch out for. However, it was quickly clear why the two teams are in their respective positions, after Echo Fox stormed through to win the game in just 22 minutes.

Virtus Pro put on a show at ESL One

Of course, this weekend also saw the ESL One in Katowice, marking the first time a Dota major has been held in Poland. The group stages last week kicked off with a few upsets, with teams like Newbee, OpTic Gaming and LGD going out earlier than expected, setting the stage for a final showdown between Vici Gaming and Virtus Pro. Going in, Vici were undoubtedly favourites, having put in a dominant performance to reach the playoffs. In addition, they swept Virtus 2-0 in the winner’s finals - leading most to assume the rematch would go much the same way. However, it was very quickly clear that Virtus Pro had brought their a-game, with new signing RodjER quite literally stunning Vici in the utility support role. And despite VG’s Ori pulling in 50 last hits in game three, giving them a brief respite, Vici just couldn’t keep up, giving Virtus their second Pro Circuit Major this season.

A huge weekend for CS:GO

We also had a big weekend in the CS:GO StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 4, where after a tough week of play, the final eight teams fought it out for the $130,000 top prize. The field was fairly quickly narrowed down to four teams, with the semi-finals seeing Mousesports topple Liquid, and Na’vi take down Faze. Of course, that set the stage for a Na’Vi Mousesports final, with the crowd obviously delighted to see Na’Vi’s Ukranian roster playing at home. And initially, it looked like that might have affected Mousesports, with the German team falling behind early on. However, after Na’Vi lost two rounds in a row, followed by a weak buy, Mousesports seemed revitalised, and eventually won the title match 2-1. That wasn’t all the CS:GO action this weekend, however, with the all-female Intel Challenge taking place in Katowice. The two day tournament saw Team Dignitas decisively beat Singularity and Keyd Stars to claim their place in the playoffs, where they easily swept Squared Female to take the trophy. It’s a step up for the team, who finished in 2nd place last year, and sees them take home a $25,000 prize.

London says hello to Halo

London also played host to the Halo World Championship 2018 this weekend, taking over Fulham's Gfinity Arena for the huge event. Of course, the tournament came just two weeks after the Orlando Open, but since you couldn’t directly qualify for the Grand Finals there, London was where the teams really brought their A-game. Despite a line-up stacked with talent, as well as an open bracket featuring several impressive new faces, Team Infused and Vexed were definitely the favourites, so it was no surprise when the teams ended up face to face in the final. However, Team Infused eventually came out on top, winning the title - as well as $10,000, and a place in the Seattle Grand Finals.

HCT heads to Sydney

And finally, this weekend also featured the Hearthstone Championship Tour, with the series making its way down under to Sydney for the very first time. After a weekend of strong play, the final match-up was a surprise to many, with newcomer Jack "Jakattack" Gifford taking down Odyssey to win first place. Despite it being his first ever tournament, the player put in a confident performance, charming fans and casters alike with his big grin and relaxed playstyle.