MLG Columbus CS:GO - Grand Finals Recap
After three days of group matches, two days of playoffs, and the elimination of fourteen of the sixteen teams who started this tournament, the stage was set for Sunday’s MLG Columbus CS:GO grand finals. With $500,000 going to the winners, and a mere $150,000 going to the second place team, more is at stake in this final match than has ever been at stake in a CS:GO match in the entirety of the game’s history.
The two teams who made it to the finals, Luminosity Gaming and Natus Vincere, have a long history of rivalry, and we couldn’t have asked for two more closely-matched teams to meet in this final match. As lurppis pointed out in his grand final preview, these two rosters have played 332 rounds against each other prior to this tournament, and both teams have won exactly 166 rounds each. Never has there been a harder match to predict the outcome of, which only ramped up the pre-game excitement inside Columbus’s Nationwide Arena.
Map 1 - Mirage
The first map was Luminosity’s pick, but right out of the gate, Na’Vi appeared to be determined to steal it away from them, dominating the first half 11-4. Luminosity would not be denied, however, and they fought back to win the second half with the same 11-4 score, bringing the game to a 15-15 tie and forcing an overtime period.
Despite Na’Vi’s GuardiaN finding his AWP form, and some stunning individual efforts by both flamie and Edward of Na’Vi, they weren’t enough to stop Luminosity from winning the overtime with some hyperaggressive terrorist-side strategies. The Brazilians closed out in overtime with a final score of 19-17.
Map 2 - Overpass
Entering the second map, the roles were reversed; this was Na’Vi’s map pick, and it was Luminosity who opened it up by taking a commanding lead. Unlike the first map, however, the comeback never came, and Luminosity closed out the first half with a dominant score of 13-2. When the second half started, Na’Vi absolutely needed to win the pistol round to have any chance of winning this map, but they simply couldn’t make it happen.
With their economy broken, Na’Vi never won a round in the second half, and Luminosity closed out the map - and with it the entire tournament - with a massive 16-2 victory. The individual talents of Luminosity’s star players were all apparent in this match, with FalleN landing some incredible AWP shots, fnx and fer pulling off some great aggressive plays on their counter-terrorist side, and TACO winning some amazing clutch rounds. Their fifth player, coldzera, performed brilliantly all tournament, and was awarded the MVP trophy at the end of the day.
Despite this being an incredibly close matchup on paper, it ended up being a overwhelming victory for Luminosity. At no point on this second map did the Brazilians look like they were in trouble, and it didn’t seem like Na’Vi - particularly the AWP of GuardiaN - ever came fully online.
Winners & Losers
The biggest winner this week was obviously Luminosity Gaming, but not just because they won the whole tournament - they also made history. MLG Columbus is the eighth CS:GO major, after the first one at DreamHack Winter 2013, and this is the first time a non-European team has won the championship.
Not only have Luminosity made a name for Brazil, and the whole South American CS:GO scene, they’ve also served as a testament to the strength of CS:GO in 2016. It has become a truly international phenomenon, as evidenced by the fact that players from 17 different countries appeared in this tournament, and the fact that these events can fill stadiums from Katowice, Poland to Cologne, Germany to Columbus, USA.
This was also the most-watched CS:GO event in history, tying or perhaps beating the viewership record with over 1.3 million people tuning in. We’ll see over the next few days whether MLG Columbus has managed to edge out ESL One Cologne 2015, which also pulled in 1.3 million viewers.
The other winners here were the teams who outperformed expectations, even if they didn’t manage to win the whole thing. Virtus.pro, despite supposedly being in a slump, managed to make it out of their group and into the top 8. Team Liquid defied all expectations by making it to the semifinals, and even though they had a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Luminosity, they’ve certainly earned themselves some new fans, and made the North American scene proud on their home turf.
All of the teams who made it into the top 8 will now be conferred Legend status, which means they’re automatically qualified for the group stages of the next major, and will receive preferential seeding in those groups. For the underdogs like Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming, that’s a significant achievement.
On the other hand, the success of those underdogs doesn’t come without the downfall of some established greats, and the foremost among those is certainly Fnatic. As the team to beat coming into this tournament, and a team that has already won no less than three CS:GO majors, seeing them get knocked out in the quarterfinals was a huge disappointment for their adherents.
Na’Vi, having made it all the way to the finals of a major for the second consecutive time, and then once again being unable to clinch the championship, are likely unhappy with their continued runner-up status. All of these teams, both the over- and under-achievers, will undoubtedly have another shot at the championship trophy, but we don’t exactly know when. In typically-cryptic Valve fashion, they have yet to announce which future tournaments they will bestow the “major” status - and the associated $1 million prize pool - upon.
Wherever and whenever the next major is, we can only hope that the quality of both gameplay and broadcast production can live up to what we’ve seen this week from MLG Columbus. Witnessing the growth of competitive Counter-Strike, and watching the CS:GO community continue to show the strength and depth of its competitive scene at these events, has been a remarkable ride. We look forward to more of the same.