You’ve probably read somewhere over the years that esports is “the next big thing” in the sporting world.
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After five thrilling weeks of esports action at the Hoyts Gfinity Esports Arena in Sydney – it all comes down to this. The top four in each competition is settled, and we’re ready to find our inaugural Gfinity Elite Series champions.
If you’ve missed the season so far – or just aren’t quite caught up – this is everything you need to know as we head into the playoffs this weekend.
The Counter-Strike competition has easily been the most even of the three Elite Series games, with a healthy dose of upsets and comebacks meaning the top four wasn’t anywhere close to settled until the final day of the season.
We knew were in for a wild ride as early as Week 1. The Brisbane Deceptors – tipped to struggle all season – shocked us all by taking a 10-5 lead over Melbourne Order in the first game, although Order were able to fly back in the second half to win 16-11. The young competition saw its first boilover in the very next match, as the newly-formed Sydney Roar obliterated the championship favourite Sydney Chiefs 16-2.
The next three weeks saw the play only improve, as some sanity and logic started to emerge amidst the chaos.
The Chiefs got themselves back to where we thought they’d be with three straight wins, whereas Brisbane found themselves out of the running after three – mostly gallant – losses. Melbourne Order’s reserve line-up got them to 2-1, before the return of their top tier side from overseas saw them steamroll Perth and lock themselves into a top four spot alongside the Chiefs.
That left the Roar, Avant and Perth in a scrap for the other two finals spots in the final week after all three had mixed results. Perth had one foot in the finals, given their last match was against the winless Deceptors, seemingly leaving it to the Roar and Avant to play for the final spot in their Week 5 matchup.
Avant took the honours in that clash, all but consigning Sydney to elimination – only for Brisbane to come out of nowhere and take down Ground Zero in one of the upsets of the year.
That gave us a top four of; Melbourne Order, Sydney Chiefs, Melbourne Avant and Sydney Roar.
While we got a good idea of who our contenders were in Rocket League pretty early, there was still plenty of jostling for positions with the top four all season, while the final week – like CS:GO – saw two teams in a thrilling winner-takes-all affair.
The Sydney Chiefs actually fielded a reserve team over the first two weeks because their top team was at the World Championships in London. Their draftees were still able to get them off to a good start with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Roar and an easy 3-0 win over Brisbane.
It only got better once their starters returned, with the Chiefs breezing past the rest of the competition to finish the leagueplay portion of the tournament as the only undefeated side in any competition.
Melbourne Order and Perth Ground Zero – both using imported rosters from top Australian sides DarkSided and Legacy – made light work of Brisbane and Avant in Week 1. Their only losses of the season came against the Chiefs, although Perth did take the honours when the two sides clashed in Week 4.
It proved to be tough going once again for Brisbane, with the Deceptors’ Rocket League side finish the season as the only winless team in all competitions. Avant and the Roar’s only victories prior to Week 5 came against the Queensland team, although four finals spots being up for grabs meant the winner of their Week 5 clash went through anyway.
Avant took the points in the second do-or-die clash of the weekend between them and the Roar – but this time there was no divine intervention for the Sydneysiders.
The Rocket League top four finished as; Sydney Chiefs, Perth Ground Zero, Melbourne Order and Melbourne Avant.
Street Fighter is definitely more of an individual’s game rather than a team sport – but this was embraced throughout the competition. Wild hairstyles, aviator sunglasses and all sorts of hilarious costumes were on show and, accompanied by a generous helping of banter, the Street Fighter competition proved just as entertaining off the screen as it did on it.
The biggest talking point of the season was Melbourne Avant’s all-draftee team who, led by tax lawyer RumoursOfGhosts, went on an incredible run across the first four weeks of the season. All four of their best-of-seven matches went the full distance but, on each occasion, Avant came through in the end.
They again went the full distance in their last game of the season – against the winless Sydney Roar – but this time it was the underdogs who came through to cause a monumental upset at the death.
The Roar had won just four rounds in total prior to that match, before turning it on to record a mind-boggling result.
Between those two extremes, it proved to be quite an even competition. The Sydney Chiefs, once more, looked poised to run away with it after two decisive early wins, but found themselves back at 2-2 after getting done in by Perth and Avant. Their overarching rivals in the Melbourne Order, at 3-1, had an opportunity to stick in the knife in the final week, but the Sydneysiders were able to add another chapter into this young, but storied, rivalry after triumphing 4-2 to set up a semi-final rematch.
It looked like Brisbane were in store for another long season when their Street Fighter team dropped their first three matches, but their breakthrough 4-1 win in Week 4 had the whole competition rallying behind them. They even had a chance to take the spluttering Ground Zero’s place in the playoffs when the two sides met in the final week but, despite getting the win, the fact it took seven full rounds meant Perth survived on bonus points.
That saw the top four finish up as; Melbourne Avant, Sydney Chiefs, Melbourne Order and Perth Ground Zero.
When is it?
The semifinals take place this weekend at the Hoyts Gfinity Esports Arena in Moore Park, Sydney. The CS:GO semis are on Saturday, starting from 3pm (AEST), while Sunday sees Rocket League beginning at 10am and Street Fighter taking the stage at 4pm.
If you’re in Sydney, you can head to the arena to watch the action. If you’re not around the area, or can’t get a ticket, you can watch all the action on Twitch. The Rocket League action is also viewable on free-to-air television via ONE.
The Roar will have players embedded throughout the site with the Twitch stream. They look something like this;
Note: Gfinity Australia is a joint venture with HT&E Events. The Roar is published by Conversant Media, which is owned by HT&E.