Article by Craig Owens.
Tuesday evening saw the fourth week of PC Gamer's Shootmania Storm Launch Tournament. Nadeo's lightning fast shooter is exquisitely calibrated for tournament play - with its pixel-perfect shooting and heavy offensive on manoeuvrability - so we'd thought we'd go and host one, inviting expert commentators Ziggy “nVc” Orzeszek and David “Zaccubus” Treacy from eSports crew Team Dignitas to help decipher all the fleet-footed jumping and astonishingly precise shooting. So if you want to see a bunch of talented eSports teams battling it out in a game built to showcase their abilities, then watch the video below. If you'd rather just catch up with who shot whom the most on Tuesday night, in preparation for next week's Grand Final, then read the match report beneath it.
This is a double elimination tournament fought in Storm's 3v3 Elite mode, which see two teams of three players alternately attacking and defending a capture point, though the attacking team only gets to field a single player, who gets to be either a victorious hero or an embarrassing failure. The first team to reach nine points wins the game, though a two-point lead is needed to confirm the victory, and there are five games in a match. Losers in the top bracket are automatically relegated to the lower bracket - and it was the Upper and Lower Bracket finals that played out on Tuesday night.
The Upper Bracket Final saw Fnatic up against Swiss Balls. Fnatic, who have played superbly throughout the competition, showed no sign of wavering here, comfortably despatching their opponents over three maps.
"They made the former Epsilon side look nothing more than mediocre", explains Ziggy, "with a brilliant defence that appeared to adapt in real-time to the Swiss Bulls attacking players' every move. Once Fnatic saw weakness in [Swiss Bulls player] KryW playing away from Thek1ng and Sephis on the defensive side, a strategy that was particularly noticeable on the map DayBreak, it was not long before the black and orange capitalized on it. This enabled Strenx to rock one of his best performances in ShootMania to date with some fantastic attacking rounds."
Strenx barely lost an attacking round on the second map of the match, and kicked off the third map confidently for Fnatic - taking out all three defending players with the kind of calm, assured play that typified his performance across the map.
Swiss Bulls, meanwhile, have been knocked to the lower bracket, where they'll face off against Team Dignitas EU, who won Tuesday night's Lower Bracket Final against Team Infused.
"It's not easy to [say] why The Swiss Bulls didn't really turn up yesterday," explains Ziggy, "but they certainly have a lot to prove going into the Consolidation Final against Team Dignitas EU if they want their chance at a Fnatic rematch in the Grand Final."
Dignitas' performance, meanwhile, wasn't quite as spectacular as Fnatic's. The beat Infused, certainly, but not without conceding a game along the way - and Infused was playing less aggressively than we've come to expect from the team. Meanwhile, Dignitas' new player Benczek still appears to be settling into his first role on a pro-team - a potential vulnerability that Infused failed to exploit.
"Neither side looked comfortable, with heavy emphasis on a much more defensive Team Infused than we're all used to seeing," says Ziggy. "They're usually a side that's never shy from drastically mixing things up on defence. We saw a lacklustre Team Infused and I think they'll know it - they were more than capable of winning the game."
It's Fnatic in the Grand Final then, up against whoever wins the Consolidation Final between Dignitas and Swiss Bulls to be held next week. Ziggy's fairly confident who he thinks the overall winners of the tournament are going to be - "I just can't see Fnatic losing in the Grand Final" - but either way, we're in for a spectacular match, and one that might just prove him wrong.
Next week sees the Consolidation Final and the Grand Final, when the PC Gamer Shootmania Launch Tournament truly comes an end and one team walks away with a £500 share of the £800 prize pot and with complementary bags full of self-esteem. Tune in on PC Gamer's Twitch tv channel at 7pm on Tuesday. In the meantime, have a look at full, regularly updated standings for a full overview of the tournament.