The four-day championship tournament for the 2014 Intel Extreme Masters series concluded on Sunday. One of the premiere esports events of the year, the tournament was played Katowice, Poland in front of an often capacity crowd of 11,500. And it was everything it was billed to be.
The Counter-Strike championship stole the show as the hometown Polish team Virtus Pro dominated the competition. The StarCraft 2 tournament had its own collection of unforgettable moments and, of course, the games for League of Legends, the most popular esport in the world, were a must-watch.
Here we’ve collected the nine defining moments of the best tournament this year.
9) “The soul of Poland is indestructible.”
The Polish crowd had something to prove. After a prominent esports writer insulted the entire country last week, a huge Polish victory on home soil seemed inevitable.
Our first moment comes from the opening round of the Counter-Strike grand finals. The Polish Counter-Strike team Virtus Pro takes on Ninjas in Pyjamas, by far the most successful team in the history of the game. Every kill receives a cheer, setting the tone for what would be an extraordinary finale to a very loud tournament. And things only got louder when the home squad came away victorious.
8) “Bye bye Mutalisks! Bye Bye.”
In the deciding game of a closely fought StarCraft 2 playoff series, it only takes a split second for the entire game to turn on its head.
7) “He has decided to forfeit which, I think, is a real shame.”
Johan "NaNiwa" Lucchesi has been the best StarCraft 2 player outside of Korea for a long time. He’s also been a vocal critic of the game who has said he’s lost all motivation to play.
Here in Katowice, his will to compete was nil. After having his early rush easily fended off, Lucchesi blamed his quick loss on his opponent hearing the crowd cheer and IEM staff not building proper soundproof booths. Clearly lost, the Swede picked up his bag and walked off the stage after just minutes to the booming sound of boos from the crowd who had hoped for much more.
I was pretty friendly with Naniwa, I liked him a lot IRL, but I hope he retires now for good after this shameful display— TotalBiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) March 14, 2014
6) “He waited, he waited, he waited!”
Deep into the Counter-Strike championship match, Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski plays the waiting game to deadly effect. His opponents are sneaking slowly around but don't feel Pogorzelski hovering over their backs until it’s too late. The crowd laughs in disbelief before a hail of bullets seals the deal for the Polish star in one of the best plays of the year.
5) Hometown heroes
The final round of the Counter-Strike championship match is notable for lots of reasons. First, the packed Polish crowd is still standing strong behind their native sons, the Cinderella boys wearing Virtus Pro jerseys. Second, some of the greatest Counter-Strike players of all time played on the Polish side of this match. Their win marks the country’s return to the top of the game.
But what puts the cherry on top of it all off is that after the Polish side takes the championship, they chant the Swedish team’s name: NiP! NiP! Ninjas in Pyjamas, the most successful team in the game’s history, deserves that kind of respect. It’s extremely impressive that the Polish crowd, still ramped on adrenaline over their own side's victory, were still willing to give the Swedes the “Thank You” they’d earned.
4) “Brax is back.”
Braxton "swag" Pierce is Complexity’s ace in the hole. The American side relies on the 17-year-old sharpshooter often. Here, in a big win over NiP, Pierce manages to kill three Swedes in short order before defusing the ticking bomb and winning the round. After holding their collective breath, his teammates explode in gratitude.
3) “Wombo combo!”
In the deciding game of the Leage of Legends semifinals, the American squad Cloud 9 faced off against the Europeans in Fnatic. It took only a few minutes for Fnatic to build a big lead, cemented by this hard hitting double kill.
2) Korean crown
The KT Rolster Bullets came into the League of Legends championship event with something to prove. After going undefeated in dominating fashion and earning a $60,000 first place prize, it’s safe to say the proving is over. KT Rolster wears the Polish crown quite comfortably.
Here in the final game, the Koreans clinched the championship game over an already desperate Fnatic team.
1) “Pasha unleashes hell!”
At 15-years-old, Counter-Strike’s AWP is still probably the best video game gun ever made. It’s a one shot kill that requires skill, dexterity, smarts, and guts to use. It kicks like a mule and sounds like thunder.
In front of a home crowd and on the road to a championship win, Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski proves why he is arguably the greatest AWPer in the game. The Swedes falls one by one in bloody heaps before him as the crowd drinks it up.
Photo via ESLGaming