Article by Craig Owens.
Some things are too monumental too squeeze into a mere four week time period. And as it turns out, the PC Gamer Shootmania Launch Tournament was one of them. Admittedly, in this case the unexpected spilling over the final matches of our tournmanent into an extra week had more to do with technical issues than it did all the drama being too much to contain within our initial timeframe. But no matter, because this week's matches deserved a week of their own. Watch the finals and read our analysis below.
I won't bother explaining the tournament rules and structure this time, since, you know, there's no more tournament to speak of, but the matches themselves are still played in Shootmania Storm's Elite 3 versus 3 mode. A mode that feels tailor made for tournament play, Elite mode manages to showcase both tightly co-ordinated teamwork whilst also requiring singular acts of showboating heroism. Teams alternate between attacking and defending a lone capture point, but the attacking team only gets to field a single player. The team to reach nine points and maintain a two point lead at that point wins each game, and matches are played on a best-of-five games basis. If you want to watch the final games of the tournament then just click on the video below (the action starts at the 13 minute mark). As ever, expert commentators Ziggy “nVc” Orzeszek and David “Zaccubus” Treacy from eSports crew Team Dignitas will translate the at times incomprehensibly brilliant play into gentle, accessible words. Or, alternatively, skip to the write up below.
Last week saw Team fnatic complete their pretty much unstoppable march towards the Grand Final (losing only a single game along the way), but in order to decide who was actually going to meet them there the Consolation Final in the lower bracket needed to be played first. This match, between Swiss Bulls and Team Dignitas saw the latter team pull head to assured 2-0 lead, before the Swiss Bulls recovered and forced Dignitas all the way to the fifth round. That fifth game was spectacularly closely fought: Dignitas won 9-7, a mark of precisely how hard Swiss Bulls pushed their opponents after an uninspired start. Swiss Bulls final, third place standing is well-deserved.
"The consolation final between Team Dignitas and Swiss Bulls was once again a fantastic match to watch", says Ziggy. "However, I can't help but question again the The Swiss Bulls' defensive set-up. Where most teams push one of their players on, for example, DayBreak to the laser platform once or twice per game, The Swiss Bulls will do so every round. In my eyes Swiss Bulls had the capability to win that game, but [their] predictability was all too obvious."
And so, with third place decided, it was Team Dignitas versus Fnatic in the Grand Final. Fnatic, of course have played spectacularly all compeition, and Ziggy himself predicted their victory last week, but Dignitas at least managed to slow the juggernaut down. The first two maps were agonizingly close, with Fnatic's Strenx being the only player who take an attacking round on either (winning both maps for his team along the way). And the final game, fought on the map Rust, actually saw things swing in Dignitas' favour with unexpected 4-0 lead (thanks to the combined efforts of both Frantic and GaRpY, both of whom nabbed attacking rounds). It wasn't enough, however, as Fnatic's players Luxxiz, JiePie, Strenx retaliated with an unbroken string of defences and successful captures, leading at an 8-4 lead and eventually winning the both the match and competition.
Along the way Fnatic showcased precisely the skills that have seen them enjoy such success across the duration of the tournament. Strenx's confident captures in the first two games tilted the match in his team's favour (making him Ziggy's personal MVP along the way) but if you want to see some spectacular movement then this game in particular is a revelation: Luxxiz pulls off a spectacular trick jump to the audible astonishment of our battle-hardened, veteran commentators.
"Fnatic have once again proved that they are number 1 in Europe," explains an admiring Ziggy, "playing flawlessly throughout the tournament and dropping a map only to Team Legendary early on. [They're the] deserving winners of the PC Gamer Tournament, showing that it's not just about individual ability in ShootMania as some people are led to believe, but the team dynamics behind it. [But] Fnatic definitely bought something different to the table, mixing up their defensive setup almost every round which is in stark contrast to that of our 3rd place finishers, who definitely opt for the safer approach. I hope to see more people adopt this style of play as we move forward into the next ShootMania event."
So there we have it: that's £500 to Fnatic, and that's it for the PC Gamer Shootmania Launch Tournament. If that news leaves you feeling painfully bereft then by all means visit PC Gamer's Twitch tv channel to view highlights of previous matches. And if you can't remember exactly when in the tournament your favourite game took place in, have a look at the full standings for an overview of the championship.