1. This was a very CT sided tournament
The ECS finals were an oddly CT sided affair. Only 2 teams broke 50% round win rates on their T side in Astralis and mousesports. Even FaZe Clan only managed 44.4% win rate on the T side on their way to taking the title. One of the reasons for this may have been the unexpected amount of Nuke in the maps played, which is generally a CT-sided map. Only Train and Mirage were played more often, and Cache was ignored completely.
Everything about the T side suffered, bomb plant rates were generally well below average except for FaZe, Astralis and mousesports but conversion rates from plant to round win were below global averages for every team in the tournament. On the flipside of that retake rates were great with 5 out of 8 teams posting above average numbers, with Fnatic nearly 15% over average.
One theory is that teams are already protecting their preparations for the major in the new year and don’t want to give anything away strategy wise. If this is true we can expect to see Nuke going back to it’s status as perma-banned. Nuke can’t account for the whole difference though, but teams may also be hiding their T strats for the bigger tournament. OpTic and LG aren’t there, but they’re weak enough compared to the rest of the field to have their T side problems explained by being beaten up.
2. FaZe’s win was built on success in Eco or vs Eco situations
FaZe often aren’t dominant in terms of gun rounds in their events. The ECS 4 Finals were no exception as they broke even on 66 rounds won and lost, and their pistol rounds weren’t anything to get excited about either. But they made their advantage in two other areas – playing eco and against eco.
They had the leading proportion of rounds won when playing eco (which our database counts as any of a range of janky saves, and cobbled together buys up to a total value of 10k) by a wide margin. A 25% win rate at what is usually a serious disadvantage is very hard to imagine even with a small sample of rounds. These aren’t exclusively hard saves but they tell us something useful apart from FaZe being very skillful- they were probably committing more to buying up whatever they could whenever they could and maximising messy situations.
Against eco they were a very big and ugly flat track bully. Fnatic were the only other playoff team that had a superior rounds won ratio against eco, but that was earned in the group stage against the hopelessly weak LG. FaZe had a harder group and dismissed Fnatic in the knockout phase 2-0.
3. This was an unusually predictable tournament
Our pre-tournament predictions did pretty well. We correctly predicted the winner (although it wasn’t hard to go with FaZe), but amongst the harder calls to make we had Astralis as favoured to beat Cloud9 out of the groups stage (although hedged carefully against the holiday atmosphere), mousesports as the better team from Group A and all 4 playoff teams and those eliminated early correctly selected.
Overall the algorithm got 10 match predictions correct and 3 wrong for a 77% hit rate, and the Astralis vs mousesports matchup was a very close call.
4. NiKo bounces back
After having a slightly lacklustre Pro League finals NiKo announced his return to form by dropping a 40 bomb on the unfortunate Team Liquid. He didn’t dominate the tournament like he can, but he was FaZe’s highest combined WPAR and PAE player for the tournament, finishing overall 5th in WPAR and 6th in PAE despite 3 tough maps against mousesports. Players above him in these categories almost all went home early having effectively buffed their stats without having to face the crucible of the finals.
5. NA leaves empty handed
With Cloud9’s misfortune at being put into the stacked Group B the NA teams have walked away from this tournament with few reasons for optimism. On the round rating system scores they take up the bottom 4 slots out of 8 teams. Although this is partly down to the placement of the teams in their groups (Cloud9 would have been favoured to advance from Group A) there’s very little in their performances that would make anybody think bad luck had much to do with it.
OpTic got the first map upset they needed against mousesports but they were decisively crushed in the knockout rematch. Liquid and LG needed that first best-of-1 upset to stand a chance and they didn’t get it. Liquid still have no T side to speak of, in this unusually CT sided tournament they only won 31% of all their T rounds, only ahead of whipping boys LG. Their CT side is competitive at 53%, but their poor streak of results on the T side goes back months and is something they really need to address.
6. Rubino grows into his role
From a tough start as Astralis’s semi-permanent sub for Device, Rubino more than showed signs that Astralis can succeed with him in the team, and that he can do an awesome impression of young Semmler. He was 2nd in the tournament on +0.77 WPAR and 3rd on PAE with +0.17, leading his team in both and showing that he is both strong in the clutch and at the bread and butter work.
His AWP work was also more than acceptable as Astralis’s secondary AWPer behind dupreeh contributing 10 rounds as a CT on double AWP setups with a 1.5 kills per round equipped average. He also contributed one of the plays of the tournament that I’ll showcase in the big plays article later this week.
Overall Astralis’s performance was a testament to their professional attitude when many pundits (possibly including me) were speculating that they might just be making up the numbers.
7. Tournament seedings could be improved
As predicted by our rankings and pointed out in the accompanying article the groups were pretty lopsided and the results was no NA teams into the knockout rounds. Although they’ve got to earn it I feel that putting Cloud9 into group A would have improved the chances of some intercontinental clashes in the knockout phase.
I’m not sure what the method for putting the groups together was, but if there was any idea that Astralis might be crumbling that justified having Cloud9 in group B then beware a strong team on a downward trend. They are just as likely to correct back to their real level as continue their decline.
8. Rain has become FaZe’s carry
Despite all the attention on NiKo, rain has become an incredibly consistent powerhouse at the core of the FaZe winning machine. Over the last big 3 tournaments rain has been in the top 3 players on PAE rating, which is the bread and butter stat that represents consistent fragging regardless of equipment expenditure.
That he doesn’t often have a high WPAR places him as a fine complement to NiKo’s brilliance in the clutch, and means he consistently finishes off rounds, capitalises on good positions and creates and sustains advantages throughout the whole length of the map.