StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 - FaZe Clan are the champions
de_Mirage - 16:14 (7:8, 9:6)
The Grand Final commenced on FaZe's map pick, Mirage. The European mixture grabbed the first pistol round as the T side thanks to Håvard "rain" Nygaard's triple-kill. Two successful anti-ecos gave FaZe Clan an early lead of three rounds. Once the Danes had enough money to buy rifles, Nicolai "device" Reedtz and co. started to pick up rounds, winning seven out of nine following rounds to make it 7:5. In the 13th round, rain opened up the round with two opening kills in the B push and FaZe, despite having low utility as a result of back-to-back round defeats, held the bombsite and won the round. In order to prevent FaZe from going into the halftime ahead, Astralis switched to double-AWP setup, but Danish mastermind Finn "karrigan" Andersen's strategy of faking A then hitting B with full force prevailed and the score evened out at 7:7. In the last round of the first half, rain found success in the opening duel yet another time, a successful 2v2 post-plant hold from FaZe gave the European mixture 8:7 lead at the halftime.
The second pistol round and the anti-eco following it went FaZe's way, making the score 10:7. Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth's quad-kill in the first gun round of the second half wasn't enough to win the round. Playing 11:7 down, Astralis only had four deagles to use but their star player device picked up two kills, grabbed an AWP and killed two more with it to clutch a 1v2. One more round victory melted the deficit to just two rounds at 11:9. This time around, FaZe won an eco round after a great B hold from karrigan and Aleksi "allu" Jalli. After several back-and-forth rounds, the score tied at 14:14. Playing on the more expensive CT side, FaZe's economy was broken but they decided to force nonetheless. Winning against weaker weapons of FaZe put Astralis on the map-point. Another round victory against lesser equipment of FaZe resulted with Astralis stealing Mirage 16:14.
de_Nuke - 6:16 (4:11, 2:5)
FaZe started their opponent's pick by winning another pistol round as the CT side. Solid and patient defence won karrigan and co. the following three rounds including the first gun round to make it 4:0. In the fifth round, Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey found himself in a 1v3 situation. The Frenchman managed to turn it to a 1v1 but lost the clutch barely to Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander who put his team on the scoreboard at 4:1. The sixth round also went Astralis' way and broke the CT economy. After losing an eco round, FaZe called a timeout and it worked as the defenders prevented Astralis from entering the bombsites, eventually running the time out to make the score 5:3. This round turned out to be the key moment as starting from the 9th round, FaZe lost only a single round before the half-time when the European mix was leading 11:4.
The second half of Nuke started the same as the prior three halves, with FaZe grabbing the pistol round. kioShiMa added three more kills to his impressive performance on Nuke to crush Astralis' force-buy, making the score 13:4. A flawless anti-eco secured a 10-round lead for FaZe and in the 19th round, kioShiMa starred again, killing two in a 2v3 post-plant situation which was more than enough for the bomb to explode. Playing against map point, Astralis had three UMPs, a Famas and a Mag-7 against FaZe's full-buy. However, gla1ve's three kills with UMP won Astralis their fifth round. FaZe's half-buy got crushed in the 21st round but they were still leading by 9. Another partial-buy came from FaZe but this time around a fast A hit proved Tec-9s were too mobile for M4s and FaZe closed out the map 16:6 to make the series score 1-1.
de_Inferno 17:19 (5:10, 10:5, 2:4)
The decider map, Inferno, started with Astralis picking up their first pistol round of the series. FaZe responded with a Tec9-armor force-buy, rushed from the apartments and Nikola "NiKo" Kovač killed three to win the round, all of a sudden Astralis found themselves forced to play with UMPs and pistols in the next round. kioShiMa's triple-kill in the third round gave FaZe the lead at 2:1 despite losing the pistol round. Both teams won one round before kioShiMa and allu won a 2v3 situation and reset the Astralis' CT economy. Lacking enough funds to put together a full buy, Astralis forced with an AWP and two UMPs. Against all odds, the force-buy worked and made the score 4:3. Xyp9x' heroic quad-kill banana hold evened the things at 4:4 and put FaZe on eco. FaZe kept struggling in their attempt to defeat Xyp9x at bombsite B and when they decided to push A, Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye was present to make them regret. This fashion lasted until the 14th round when FaZe finally breached the bombsite A defence and made the score 9:5 just before halftime. The last round of the half ended with a Danish victory, deciding the halftime score to be 10:5 in favour of Astralis.
FaZe desperately needed to win the second pistol round and they did so by barely retaking bombsite B in a 4v4 situation. FaZe's decision of purchasing four UMPs and one MP-7 in the second round helped them build a better early economy, but four SMGs that were carried to the first gun round weren't able to best the AK-47s of Astralis and the Danes won the first gun round of the half to make the score 11:7. NiKo's triple-kill on a 3v3 re-take in the 19th round wasn't enough as the bomb exploded and Astralis' lead advanced to five rounds. FaZe won a near-impossible eco round to gain an economical advantage. Using the advantage, FaZe grabbed two more rounds to make the score 12:10. Just as the gap was melting, device stepped up, sniped down three and stopped FaZe's attempt at a comeback. Kjaerbye added two more kills to his impressive stats on Inferno in the following round, making the score 14:10 and breaking the CT economy. FaZe's desperate buy with an AWP, a Famas and three pistols somehow worked and reset the Astralis economy, putting the Danish side on eco in the 26th round when it was 14:11. When Astralis had the money to bring together a full-buy it was already 14:13 and FaZe were just a round shy. Astralis' victory in the following round put them on the match point but two intense rounds including a 4v4 bombsite B retake took the map to the overtime.
The overtime started with Astralis successfully planting the bomb on bombsite A and defending the 3v3 retake against FaZe's double-AWP. However, allu's two kills with the AWP tied the things at 16:16 but it wasn't enough for the Finnish AWPer and his team to take the lead as Astralis successfully hit bombsite B to take the lead once more before switching sides. Now playing as the T side, FaZe won two rounds in a row including a great B fake in the second one to reach Championship point. Losing two rounds in overtime as the CT side put Astralis in a hard spot, having much less money than they'd like. The lesser weapons couldn't turn the tide and FaZe finally closed out the map 19:17 and revenged the IEM Katowice 2017 Grand Final defeat.
Image courtesy of FaZe Clan