The Intel Extreme Masters took place in Sydney over the weekend and was full of Australian spirit. There were underdogs, upsets and the best eSports crowd in the world.
Whether you were in the crowd or watching from home, you could feel the atmosphere at Quodos Bank Arena. The Australian fans are something to behold and they did not disappoint at this year’s IEM Sydney. Over the voices of the casters, chant after chant was heard, no matter if an Australian team was playing or not. In the end, our Aussie Renegades were defeated in the quarterfinals but FaZe Clan became the 2018 IEM Sydney Champions.
Counter-Strike and other eSports events continue to grow, with over 7,000 attendees at IEM Sydney this year. The team at Red Bull has put together a By the Numbers video, to show just how big the tournament was in its second year running.
Renegades were the only Australian team to make it out of the group stages, doing one better than last year. No Aussie team had made it through, so this was an achievement in itself. Falling short of a guaranteed semifinal place after losing to Tyloo, the boys came up against mousesports in the quarterfinals. Renegades managed to push overtime on both the second and third map after losing the first on Mirage 16-7. The second map saw double overtime on Inferno and the crowd went nuts when Renegades came out on top 25-23.
Map three on Train was some edge of your seat madness, that had the crowd so emotionally invested. The last round of that match crushed every Australian’s hearts in unison. Renegades member, Nifty, had been a crowd favourite for his efforts during that match but unfortunately and devastatingly for the team and the fans, they couldn’t best mousesports. The American player has been adopted by the Aussie fans and the crowd worshipping and chanting Nifty became a common sight, even post-match when he joined the crowd.
Australia wins the Caches once again
The IEM Sydney showmatch, dubbed the ‘Caches’, is a face-off between Australia and England. Captained by analyst SPUNJ and caster Henry G, the all Australian team took on the not 100% English team, in a best of one match. Walking out onto the stage before the Grand Final, our home team was met with a tribute of shoes held high. In memory of all those who had been previously kicked out of the Arena for taking part in the Shoey tradition.
The best of one on Dust 2 was the closest showmatch in IEM history. So close in fact that it went to overtime for the deciding round. But Australia did it, with topguN sealing the win for the boys. As tradition, the loser was to be dropped into a bed of pies, waiting to the side of the stage. This time, however, everyone got a taste and not even head of IEM, Michal, or stage host OJ was safe from the whipped cream madness.
FaZe Clan are your Champions
Coming into the Grand Finals as underdogs, FaZe Clan did not hesitate to prove the odds wrong. Second place at last year’s IEM Sydney and second at so many other events, FaZe were hungry for a win. The best of five started on Cache and Astralis took it to overtime but FaZe took the map 19-17. Overpass also went the way of FaZe 22-20 on Astralis’ pick but not after a gruelling double overtime. By the third map, the crowd couldn’t decide if they wanted FaZe to take it or if they wanted to watch more Counter-Strike. Every round, every play and every kill was met with roars from the fans on both sides.
The final map was unfortunately over without overtime and FaZe closed it out 16-14. If Astralis had won Train, they could have also taken their pick on Inferno and had Dust 2 as the decider, what a final that could have been. The win for FaZe now equals SK’s lead towards the Intel Grand Slam prize. Each team needs two more wins to get the four required for the one million dollar prize. SK needs to win the next two ESL events to get there before their first win expires. FaZe, however, have some more room to work with and have four events before their first expires.
IEM Sydney continues to be a successful Counter-Strike event and we hope to see it back again next year. Maybe one day we can have an Australian champion team too.