Gfinity Elite Series
It felt like only yesterday that we were putting the finishing touches on our Season Preview piece for Gfinity Elite Series Season 3, and now the Grand Final weekend looms on the horizon fast approaching. It’s been another spectacular season full of action and drama, and left standing after seven weeks of competition are four FIFA teams, two Rocket League teams and two SFV squads ready to do battle for Gfinity’s top prizes and a place at the top of the European esports mountain. So let’s go team-by-team and chart the road each of our finalists have travelled to make it to this weekend’s Grand Finals.
League Position: 1st in Group A (8 Points)
Record: 2 Wins, 2 Draws (1 Quarter-Final Bye)
Top Goalscorer: EisVogel – 12 Goals
With the FIFA 18 semi-finals taking place on the same night as the final this Friday, let’s look at the first of our semi-finalists in Team Envy. The Elite Series veterans have adapted to FIFA 18 like a duck to water, and in a scrappy league stage where each team took points off each other, they managed to battle through unbeaten with two wins and two draws to seal a semi-final place. Given they were in the same group as favourites Hashtag United, this is no mean feat – their victory in the final round of league matches sealed Hashtag’s elimination from the competition and their own passage into the semi-finals. Aero and EisVogel are very difficult opponents to play against; hard to break down with an uncanny ability to control matches and resist fightbacks. Between them they have only lost one game all season, and EisVogel’s 44% accuracy means that if he gets in front of goal, there’s an almost 50/50 chance he will bury it – clinical.
AS Roma FNATIC
League Position: 2nd in Group B (5 Points)
Record: 2 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 Draws
Top Goalscorer: Zimme – 11 Goals
Envy’s opponents in Semi-Final 1 are AS Roma FNATIC, a team who have bounced back from a scrappy start to their campaign to roar into the semi-finals off the back of possibly the most one-sided quarter-final in Elite Series history. Rannerz has been the anchor player for the whole season, but Zimme comes into this match as the player to watch. A 5-0 thrashing of UNILAD’s Shellz in their final league match sealed the point that put them into the playoffs, and combined with the 6-0 demolition of Nordavind’s Chnewar in the quarter-finals, Zimme has scored all 11 of his goals in just two games – an unbelievable achievement. Speaking of that quarter-final, a 12-1 aggregate score against a strong Nordavind team was as big a statement of intent as FNATIC could possibly have laid down – Envy will have to be careful not to be caught cold.
League Position: 1st in Group B (6 Points)
Record: 1 Win, 3 Draws (1 Quarter-Final Bye)
Top Goalscorer: Shellz – 9 Goals
With the shock elimination of Hashtag United in the group stage, UNILAD are the pre-season favourites left standing – and on paper their record hasn’t been overly spectacular coming into the second semi-final with just one win in four matches. Gorilla started off the season slowly but has gradually come into his own, showcasing the resiliance and mental toughness that saw him home to the FIFA Interactive World Cup in 2017. Conversely, Shellz has gone the other way; starting off fast, but losing his last two games 5-0 against FNATIC’s Zimme and 2-1 against Method’s Zelonius. The latter result is particularly notable given Shellz will likely be rematching against Zelonius in this semi-final – against the comeback king, he will have to be on his guard. Both players will likely have to find their best form to advance to the finals – form that they have individually demonstrated at times this season.
League Position: 3rd in Group B (4 Points)
Record: 2 Wins, 3 Draws
Top Goalscorer: Zelonius – 9 Goals
It’s been a pretty crazy season for Method, and has largely been defined by the actions of one player – Zelonius. For three straight weeks his spectacular second-leg comebacks have snatched crucial results for Method; first beating Mobacha to steal a 1-0 win over ARES, followed by a dramatic turnaround against Shellz of UNILAD in the final week to send Method through to the playoffs at the eleventh hour, and then an excellent victory over Moolzn last week to eliminate Vitality in the quarter-finals. His emotional, fearless performances have become the anchor that Method’s season has been built on, particularly as teammate Pricey is yet to find his very best form this campaign. They face UNILAD in a rematch of that dramatic encounter in the final week of league play; they drew that first match, with UNILAD prevailing 4-3 on aggregate goals scored, but if Zelonius can repeat his previous result over Shellz that could be what seperates these two teams once and for all and puts Method into the Grand Final.
Renault Team Vitality
League Position: 2nd in Group A (9 Points)
Record: 5 Wins, 1 Loss
Top Goalscorer: Freakii – 31 Goals
It’s hard to believe this Renault Vitality squad came together just a few months ago; 2018 has been an excellent year for the roster drafted from Mock-It Esports and managed by former Elite Series caster Gregan. Flying high in the RLCS, they have successfully translated their form over to the Elite Series – but it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the men in black and yellow. They were denied top spot in Group B with a shock defeat to then-winless Hashtag United, allowing fellow finalists Envy to sneak ahead at the death.
Vitality bounced back quickly with a 4-1 win over FNATIC in the quarter-finals, but perhaps their most impressive performance all season came last week against Method in the semi-finals. Lead by an absolutely god-tier performance from Fairy Peak, Vitality dominated the match for long periods and were able to survive a spectacular Method comeback to seal a place in the Grand Final. Perhaps this team’s greatest strength – aside from Gregan’s choice of shorts – has been the roster strength in depth. All three frontline players have pulled their weight brilliantly, with Freakii currently sitting as top goalscorer, and Gnagflow06 has subbed in on more than one occasion without batting an eyelid. They enter the Grand Final as slight favourites; they already hold two victories over Envy this season with a 3-2 win in the group stage and a 3-0 sweep in the RLCS. If they can repeat that result a third time, the Elite Series championship will be theirs.
League Position: 1st in Group B (10 Points)
Record: 3 Wins, 1 Loss
Top Goalscorer: EyeIgnite – 25 Goals
What is perhaps most fascinating about Envy’s run is how they enter the Grand Final as slight underdogs despite technically enjoying the better record for Season 3. For the most part their form in the Elite Series has been impervious, with an excellent 3-0 victory over exceL in the final week of league play stealing top spot in Group B from Vitality at the death and earning a bye week. However, their only loss of the season was a 3-2 reverse sweep to Vitality – and additionally they also suffered a 3-0 defeat against the same opponents in the RLCS. Do Vitality have Envy’s number? One thing is for certain; the unit of EyeIgnite, Mout and Waffle have perhaps been the most cohesive unit of the entire Elite Series. EyeIgnite drives his team forward with relentless energy, powerful clears and a constant goal threat, and Mout and Waffle combine to form a solid defence and support EyeIgnite ably. The question remains though; can they overcome their bogey team?
League Position: 2nd in Group A (9 Points)
Record: 5 Wins, 1 Loss
Most Rounds Won: Momi – 20 Rounds
Right from the first week when they blew away Season 1 champions exceL, Nordavind have been arguably the most dominant force in SFV competition this season. Four of their five wins have been 4-0 shutouts, and in the pairing of Momi and Phenom, they can boast arguably the two best players of the entire Elite Series with a mind-blowing 36 round wins and just 8 round losses between them. Earlier in the season it seemed that SaltyKid was a potential weak link, but since returning to the starting lineup in the knockout stages he has been back to his brash, ultra-confident best. Their semi-final victory was about as one-sided a playoff match as we’ve ever seen in Elite Series SFV, as was a huge statement of intent ahead of the Grand Final. Put simply, you cannot afford to start slowly against these guys – with a team of such aggressive players who love to rush down and overwhelm opponents, it’s very easy for them to run away with a match before the opposition can even get out of first gear. They enter their first Elite Series final as huge favourites, and if they bring their best form to the Gfinity Arena one more time this Saturday, it’s incredibly hard to imagine any scenario other than Nordavind lifting the trophy.
League Position: 2nd in Group B (7 Points)
Record: 4 Wins, 2 Losses
Most Round Wins: Akainu – 17 Rounds
By that last paragraph, you’d be forgiven for thinking that all Nordavind have to do to win on Saturday is avoid getting lost on the London Underground on their way to the arena. But standing in their way will be FNATIC, with a roster of Elite Series veterans hungry for glory on the biggest stage and coming off the two biggest wins of their season in the last fortnight. Somewhat overshadowed by the dominant ARES team in Group B, they consistently found ways to grind out wins in a tough group, and were able to bounce back from a surprise defeat by UNILAD to edge past Method in week 4 and lock themselves into the playoffs. But they did still lose to ARES in the final week – the team who themselves were crushed by the Nordavind juggernaut last week. So surely the omens don’t look good for FNATIC?
Maybe, but FNATIC will be brimming with confidence having beaten the two previous Elite Series SFV champions in back-to-back playoff matches. First clean-sweeping exceL 4-0 in the quarter-finals, they went on to end the title reign of Season 2 champions Envy last week in an absolutely pulsating match. On paper their stats don’t look as spectacular as Nordavind, but Akainu, Zera, and Shakz have developed an uncanny ability to stay calm and take out clutch victories under intense pressure. All three players have playoff experience with their former teams in Season 2; Zera and Akainu are previous finalists with Prophecy, and having suffered a 4-0 reverse to Envy in the Season 2 final they will be more determined than ever to avoid the same fate this time around. The Envy victory last week helped bury the ghosts of that final; if they can go one better and slay the Nordavind beast, they’ll just about blow the roof off the Gfinity Arena. For FNATIC, impossible is nothing.
So our finals for Rocket League and SFV are set. Combined with our FIFA 18 finals night this Friday, and this weekend will be utterly unmissable as Season 3 concludes and we crown new champions across the board. Get your FREE tickets to come and watch all the action in the Gfinity Arena here, and you’ll also be able to watch live exclusively on Facebook every single week. Best of all, each of our three broadcasts this weekend will have EXCLUSIVE PRIZES you can ONLY win by watching the show live, including two Award Winner Salah FUT cards!