IEM Oakland Wrap-Up: ‘Counter-Strike’ Legends Win and ‘LoL’ Underdogs Rise

Nico Faraguna

Wow, what a weekend! The fans that attended Intel Extreme Masters Oakland at the Oracle Arena were treated to some excellent, high-intensity matches. Both games, League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, provided spectators with some incredible moments. Here is a recap of the best moments from the tournament:

Read on for the full IEM Oakland wrap-up below:

League of Legends

The six-team bracket for the League of Legends portion of the tournament didn’t have the familiar names we’re used to seeing at IEM tournaments. However, any distaste for the lineup was quickly washed up by the quality of games.

Unicorns Are Real

One of the overlooked teams heading into IEM was Unicorns of Love. Their global roster consists of two Koreans and an assortment of Europeans that showed that their region is still to be respected — even after EU’s poor showing at World’s 2016.

Their quarterfinal match-up against the Brazilian INTZ e-Sports squad was a lot easier than some had predicted. Out-drafting their opponents in both games, Unicorns of Love (UoL) moved on to face the hometown favorites, Team Solo Mid.

IEM Oakland champions: Unicorns of Love.
Your IEM Oakland champions: Unicorns of Love.

Even while playing with a stand-in, Team Solo Mid were formidable opponents and many hoped they would move onto the grand finals. They were able to secure a game 1 victory on the back of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran’s Ezreal. However, their lack of preparation and the fact that they were playing with a stand-in ultimately cost them.

The next two games proved that they were not as coherent as the EU team, resulting in TSM’s quick exit from IEM Oakland. Here is what the captain of TSM had to say about their loss:

Moving onto the other bracket, the Taiwanese squad, Flash Wolves, captured a fairly routine semi-final match 2-0 win against Longzhu Gaming. It led to an unlikely grand finals match-up comprised of two teams nobody expected to see compete.

The best-of-five series was a slugfest. No team won consecutive games until the final match, when UoL took the last map. The series MVP had to be the AD carry of UoL. Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min was a beast on each champion he played. Especially his game-winning Kalista.

A big congratulations go to Unicorns of Love for winning IEM Oakland. Their win places them among some very prestigious company. It also gave us one of the most memorable and talked-about moments of the entire weekend:

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

As we mentioned in our IEM preview, the group stage of the CS:GO tournament brought some intriguing story lines to the surface. SK Gaming and Immortals were poised to bring another championship to Brazil. However, the legendary Ninjas in Pajamas squad used their veteran poise to add another trophy to their cabinet.

The Usual Suspects

While their quarterfinal games were uneventful, it was still a pleasure to watch NiP slay Immortals. The Brazilian squad hit a wall in their first series against NiP. The Swedish powerhouse proved once again why they continue to be one of the best teams in the world, quickly dispatching Immortals 2-0.

The win against Immortals set up a very enticing semifinals match-up with tournament underdog, FaZe Clan. The all-Scandinavian affair (minus one player) was a good one. The first map of the series resulted in overtime, with NiP dominating the OT period.

The next map, Train, was a different story. An angry FaZe Clan dominated to even up the series. The win by FaZe forced the game to go into a deciding game three. Sadly for FaZe, they fell short of winning the last map, which took place on Overpass. The 16-13 scoreline shows how close the match was. If not for a few crucial moments, it could easily have gone FaZe’s favor. Luckily for NiP, their win punched a ticket to a grand final match-up with SK Gaming.

Never Say Never

SK Gaming has been on a roll. The team was the favorite heading into the tournament. As the only team to win multiple Major tournaments, SK Gaming had a bit of a scare in their quarterfinals series versus G2 Esports. However, they quickly righted the ship for the remainder of their games and cruised to the grand finals.

The momentum SK Gaming carried from their previous series carried into the grand finals as they easily took the first map from NiP. It wasn’t even close, a 16-4 scoreline made the Swedes look unprepared and everybody assumed the IEM Oakland trophy would end up in SK Gaming’s hands.

It wasn’t to be, however. The veteran NiP squad had been here before and knew it could crawl back. The ensuing games were prime examples why CS:GO is one of the most popular esports in the world. The back-and-forth momentum and clutch plays caused the crowd at IEM to lose their minds.

NiP took the last two maps 16-14 and 16-14. Both matches were crazy close. While the series MVP was Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg, it was SK’s Marcelo “coldzera” David that had the highest impact. His 1.33 K/D ratio kept SK in every match.

We hope to see more action from both these teams at ELEAGUE Season 2, which begins one week from now.

Nico Faraguna
I enjoy playing PC games, watching motorcycle racing, and eating good grub
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