On the second Saturday in September, four of the top CS:GO teams in the ANZ region will meet on the ESL Sydney stage. They will be battling it out for a spot in Shanghai to compete for the $100,000USD prize pool at the 2017 BenQ ZOWIE eXTREMESLAND Asia Cup.
At last year’s tournament, homegrown favorites Renegades fell short in the Grand Final of the Asia Cup to ViCi Gaming, now it’s up to either The Chiefs, Grayhound, Athletico or Kings to go one better and bring it home for the Aussies, but first they must face off against each other.
The flavour of the month for ANZ CS:GO would have to be the Kings Gaming Club. Having posted very solid results online, including qualifying for this event though the upper bracket which included the scalp of Tainted Minds, and an undefeated run through the UniKrn TV Australian Showdown, eXTREMESLAND may be the final hurdle for the newly established org. A result here would put to rest any speculation of the legitimacy of this new lineup. The recently crowned ESL AU&NZ Champions fought through an epic best of five series against Avant Gaming to take the title 3-2. Although not the walkover most were expecting, it was a result nonetheless and a stepping stone to eXTREMESLAND. Online results aside, their first LAN showing was not the dominant exhibition most were expecting, not taking away from the valiant performance put up by Avant Gaming, the teams at eXTREMESLAND may not be as forgiving.
Another one of the teams attending eXTREMSLAND celebrating recent success is Grayhound Gaming. Qualifying for the ESEA Season 25 Global Challenge LAN over Chiefs, these specialist big game players appear to be on a roll heading into this event, although their structure has been a bit lacking. The inability to get a consistent line-up for more than a few months has struck again with the recent departure of ANZ veteran Mohammed “MoeycQ” Tizani. Christopher “dexter” Nong joins the roster as the new fifth ahead of eXTREMESLAND.
“Grayhound as an organisation are supporting us with whatever we need to achieve that goal aswell, so we are in a good place at the moment.” – Cal “bURNRUOk” Henderson on being competitive at eXTREMESLAND with the recent roster shuffle.
The team remains confident, but opinions will be split whether this new Grayhound line-up has enough time to become a unit capable of representing Australian CS:GO on the Asian stage.
Athletico Esports (formerly Darksided) storm into the finals with incredibly convincing wins over both Avant Garde and Legacy in the lower bracket of the closed online qualifiers. Following the move, this line-up of hot shot aimers have been focusing on a bit more structure at Athletico under the guidance of Peter “PeetyG” Souvlis.
“Having Pete coaching has given us a new style/direction that’s taken us a little while to get used to. But we are constantly improving which is good.” – Athletico’s Samuel “flickz” Jones
Unfortunately following this statement he also informed me he would be unable to attend the LAN due to family commitments. Tyson “pan1K” Missak will be taking his place, not a foreign concept as he was a part of the line-up that strolled over Avant Garde and Legacy in the closed qualifiers, but this is a whole new level of CS and all eyes will be on him to see if he can keep up with the big boys and fill the void left by “flickz”.
Finally we arrive at The Chiefs Esports Club, strangely enough the line-up takes to the ESL Studio stage for the first time EVER. On the back of some very strong results including; making the ESEA-P Season 25 final and taking out the CGPL Winter title, they come to eXTREMESLAND in quite handy form. When it comes to big games though, it would appear to some that this team is on another level. It isn’t to say that they’re the favorites, but eXTREMESLAND will be played on the same hallowed grounds where the Chiefs toppled the mighty North at IEM Sydney.
Suffering a third map loss to Grayhound for a place at the ESEA Global Challenge, a grudge match may be in store for the two Australian powerhouses, that is unless Athletico or Kings have something to say about it.
It would be a fools bet to try and pick a favorite out of this bunch. My recommendation would be to sit back, appreciate how far our scene has come in the past 18 months, and enjoy some top level fragging coming at you September 9.
The BenQ ZOWIE eXTREMESLAND – ANZ CSGO Finals is on September 9th, 2017 at the ESL Studios in Sydney, Australia. Tickets are available here.