Then came 2011 and with it, our new ESWC campaign would be aided by the addition of Patrik ‘f0rest’ Lindberg and Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund to the starting line-up. With such a tremendous boost in power, it seemed like all pieces fell into place. We possessed the tactical, experienced leader in the face of RobbaN, the defensive master face, hot AWPer Delpan and finally, the deadly duo of f0rest and GeT_RiGhT who could decide games on a whim.
SK Gaming Counter-Strike 1.6 2011: (left to right)
Marcus 'Delpan' Larsson
Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' Alesund
Robert 'RobbaN' Dahlstrom
Johan 'face' Klasson
In order to fully grasp the importance and greatness of the 2011 ESWC, let us go a little bit back and take a glimpse of the tournaments prior to the clash in Paris.
Setting the context
As usual, SK were treading on a bumpy road prior to the games in France. A 5-8th place finish at the Samsung European Championship (SEC) 2011 at the hands of Na’Vi was a worrying sign and even the subsequent win in New York (IEM GC New York 2011) did not give relief to the players considering the low quality competition at the event (SK, mTw, WinFakt being the only recognizable names).
AGAiN (Neo, Pasha, Kuben, Loord, Taz) came into the tournament with a strong record.
Speaking of SEC, AGAiN snatched the title in their home country, taking their title resume to new heights and eliminating Na’Vi in the final with a straight 2-0. This made them one of the big favourites coming into ESWC. The team continued their amazing performances throughout 2011 and fully deserved the “best team” title given by Counter-Strike expert Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields later that year.
After dominating like none other during 2010, Na’Vi were finally showing signs of being human just prior to ESWC. Despite this fact, the Ukrainians never failed to place outside of the top 4 for the entirety of 2011. Three disappointments were in the bag for Na’Vi just prior to the tournament in question - a crushing 16-8 defeat to Neo’s Polish side at eStars Seoul, an upset at home by countrymen DTS in the ASUS Summer 2011 and lastly, the aforementioned SEC final defeat, again, at the hands of Poland’s finest.
On the other hand, Na'Vi were rather shaky despite not placing below top 4.
Other notable participants included the Danish Fnatic, German threats mousesports and Alternate, CIS underdogs DTS and M5 and finally, the finns from WinFakt. With that in mind, most of those teams displayed too big of an inconsistency to have an actual shot of getting top 3.
Bienvenue à Paris, les challengers!*
Overall, 20 teams, divided into 4 groups commenced the tournament in France. SK Gaming was placed with Moscow5, DTS, eSreal and home crowd favourites 3DMAX. Throughout the year our team displayed incredible consistency when it came to facing Nordic representatives, however, CIS teams could never be taken lightly because of their unpredictability and upset potential. Luckily after 4 games, the team had the perfect score of 4 wins and proceeded to the semi-finals with M5 trailing closely behind.
In the other groups, the Polish machine AGAiN also scored 4 victories and joined the team in the playoff bracket together with Lions.swe. Na’Vi were upset by the Danish Anexis, but still managed to secure first place with a 3-1 scoreline beating second place finisher WinFakt by just 1 round in difference. Finally, the Germans from mousesports and Alternate comfortably topped their group and moved on.
Once the playoffs hit, we were in for a repeat of IEM New York’s Counter-Strike 1.6 Grand Final - SK Gaming versus WinFakt. Despite their valiant effort, the Finns were dispatched with a clean 2-0 as our players proceeded to the semis. With Na’Vi, AGAiN and mouz joining the fray, the storylines that were about to develop were becoming clearer.
For Na’Vi this was a historic moment. Should they beat the Poles, they continue their unbelievable streak of reaching major finals. Up to that point, they got to and won, four consecutive major grand finals. Markeloff and co were dying to make it to number five. Should SK reach the final, together with Na’Vi, it would be a replay of ESWC 2010 where the Ukrainians demolished the Swedes. In addition, a Swedish team had won the final of an ESWC only once (team9 at the inaugural ESWC 2003) with every other Swedish lineup coming close second - spiXel in 2004, fnatic in 2006 and SK in 2010.
SK moving on to the playoffs after a perfect 4 win record.
In the first semi-final, Natus Vincere were merciless and dispatched AGAiN twice with double 16-12 on train (their best map) and nuke. The Ukrainian quintet made history - reaching five consecutive major finals. All they had to do now was patiently wait and see who their opponent was in order to start planning the fifth consecutive major trophy.
On the other side, SK seemed to have a minor bump in their series. Mouz took game 1 on nuke with 16-13 which did seem to wake up our team. On mirage, SK swept the Germans in no time as the score showed 16-5. The final map, dust2, started well for our side with a 12-3 T-side. Regardless, mouz found their tempo and managed to rack-up 10 rounds before SK closed the game with the final score of 16-13.
Thus history was about to be made - either Na’Vi win their fifth consecutive major title or SK win their first ESWC cup and become the second Swedish lineup in history to do so.
Greatness before our eyes - SK Gaming vs Na’Vi in the grand final of ESWC 2011
In August of 2014 I had the pleasure of briefly talking to Alex Muller. When asked about f0rest and GeT_RiGhT’s transfer and the post 2010 line-up, he smiled and laconically replied that all he wanted from that team was “to play good Counter-Strike and the ESWC trophy”. Just before the final in Paris, everything seemed to fall into place. The boys in white and blue were in the final and Na’Vi were the only ones in their way. What better way to make history than to beat a worthy opponent? What better way to put your name on that trophy than to beat the defending champion right there and then?
Taking a deeper look into the line-up you can see what a potential win here meant for SK as an organization and a lineup. Coming second time and time again, a win here was a must for RobbaN. The veteran with years of Counter-Strike under his belt played for Begrip, NiP and SK, but somehow fate always got in his way when it came down to an all-or-nothing grand final and Robert had to walk away with silver around his neck.
The defensive master face was the unrecognized gem in the SK lineup. For the man who could seemingly stop anyone on B, this final represented a chance to write his name in history and join the elite group of major title winners in modern Counter-Strike. Due to his rather conservative and position-based approach, Johan was never in the highlight reel and consequently, often criticised for not putting up the “mad fragger” stats. However, experts and fellow players knew where his strength lied and also believed that he deserved more praise than he was getting.
For f0rest this represented a perfect opportunity to add another major trophy to his already spectacular tally. In order to later on challenge Neo for the best player to ever touch Counter-Strike, the event in Paris was a must win.
Na'Vi were here to make history, but so were SK.
The players sat on the tables and the veto process began. SK immediately removed train which was Na’Vi’s bread and butter for a stupidly long period of time and after a couple of more bans and picks, the first map to be played was de_inferno. Spectators, players and experts would soon realize that this would become one of the greatest inferno games ever to be played on 1.6.
Na’Vi started the game on T side and quickly racked up six rounds. SK finally replied in the seventh round by stopping a slow A push from the Ukrainians. Little did the Swedes know, this was the beginning of a nightmare. SK took another round and things seemed to fall into place, despite their opponents’ lead. Unfortunately, Na’Vi turned on god mode and began taking round after round, sniping SK members left and right and securing a monstrous 12-3 first half as terrorists on Inferno - a feat no one imagined possible.
At this point, the situation looked grim for the boys in white and blue. Switching over to T side, they had to battle a Na’Vi CT side with a mind-blowing disadvantage. In a post-game interview, team captain RobbaN shared that all he wanted from his boys was to take it one round at a time in order to try and bring momentum back after a “very not ok” CT half. And that’s exactly what the Swedes did. A pistol rush on B found Na’Vi unprepared and gave a very valuable round to SK who used that as a foundation to build one of the best 1.6 comebacks of all time.
Face and Get_Right during the dominating dust2 run.
After incredible performances from GeT_RiGhT, the team scored 8 rounds before Na’Vi finally managed to put a round back on the scoreboard. With the game being 11-13, momentum was back in SK’s favour. The next two rounds, however, went to Na’Vi with some brilliant defensive B-site play. At map point, the Ukrainians needed only one round to write a big W over map one. Luckily, after four huge rounds for SK, the map went into overtime.
Even here, SK faced overwhelming odds - Na’Vi had always won map one in major finals and possessed a great win percentage when it came to overtimes. In the third round of overtime, GeT_RiGhT showcased his godlike ability to clutch by winning a 1v3 round with a bomb plant by taking out zeus, ceh9 and markeloff to give SK the overtime advantage. With the first overtime going equal, we headed into a second. Here, SK seemed always one step ahead. Fortunately, Na’Vi couldn’t keep up and after a calculated A push, SK Gaming completed one of the greatest comebacks and inferno games of all time against a Na’Vi who looked robbed.
Map two of the series featured dust2. After the hour and a half affair which Inferno gave us, dust2 proved to be much shorter. Heavily affected by the soul-crushing defeat in map one, Na’Vi couldn’t stop SK from accumulating a very solid 12-3 CT half. With absolutely no answers to the SK puzzle, the Ukrainians were outperformed once more in the second half as our boys quickly closed the game with a convincing 4-0 to take home the first male ESWC Counter-Strike 1.6 trophy for SK Gaming and become the second Swedish lineup in history to win it.
SK Gaming are ESWC 2011 champions.
Emotions running high after the game, team captain RobbaN shared that “[in modern times] this is the best win of his career” and when asked about the inferno game replied that he “had Na’Vi’s CT positions in his head” with a cheeky smile.
ESWC 2011 was a key moment for the SK Gaming Counter-Strike lineup. Considered to be one of the greatest constellation of top tier players ever assembled, it finally gave them validation after so many hiccoughs along the way. SK as a team finally snatched the long-awaited ESWC title and in what way - not only stealing it away from the team that beat them last year, but also denying the same team their fifth consecutive major title.
The Swedish Champions.
f0rest added the much needed title which further reinvigorated him for the ongoing race with Neo. GeT_RiGhT brushed off the critics who claimed he can only achieve greatness in Fnatic and proved that he will continue being a world class player for years to come. Face added the much needed major trophy to his cabinet and with it came the long-awaited and deserved praise for his solid style which helped SK numerous times but was foreshadowed by the highlight reels of GTR, f0rest or other fraggers. Delpan cemented himself as a top tier AWP player and just as face, added a major trophy. RobbaN finally caught the chimera and with it, made history for SK.
Last, but not least, in Cologne, Alex Muller added the ESWC 2011 Counter-Strike 1.6 trophy to the already packed cabinet of SK Gaming.
If you wish to find out more about the exciting ESWC 2011 Counter-Strike tournament, you can visit the media below:
1. SK are ESWC 2011 champions
2. The top 10 CS moments of 2011 (4-1)
3. RobbaN interview post ESWC win
4. Johan 'face' Klasson Grilled
5. Game one of the series and Game two of the series (Russian audio)
Share with us in the comment section below what you recall from the exciting ESWC 2011 event. Also, don't forget to vote in the poll to determine the topic of the next piece in the 'Moments' series!
Images courtesy of HLTV.
*Welcome to Paris, challengers - translation provided by Hadrien Bezombes.
Former lead editor and interviewer for SK Gaming
Follow me on twitter - @Adddler or LINK
iNNERFiRE - multi-game journalist and Editor-in-Chief: 2012
onGamers - League of Legends Feature Producer: 01.2014 - 02.2015
SK-Gaming - League of Legends Lead Editor: 11.2012 - 08.2015
My journey into eSports started in 2004 when I accidentally caught a small video on TV from the WarCraft 3 WCG 2004 final. I opened up the SK Gaming website from my father's laptop and never stopped reading to this day. In early 2010 I started writing at a Bulgarian news website simply because I disliked how the current editor was handling his job and with time, I got to be Editor-In-Chief. My main writing interests back then were StarCraft 2, QuakeLive and League of Legends.
Fast-forward to 2012, after a small hiatus and moving to England to attend university, I decided to start writing news posts again, inspired by a couple of industry figures who have taken their turns taking eSports writing to a new level. With the beginning of IPL5, I was given a trial with SK Gaming which was successful and I never looked back.
In early 2014, onGamers presented me with an incredible opportunity to join their ranks which I took. Although I believe my 2014 was rather poor (in terms of work ethic and results), I have made changes during the winter break to ensure that sufficient effort will be made to repair that. Unfortunately, due to the collapse of the team, the project was at a stand still which marked the end of my stint with the oG crew.
I continued producing 1 on 1 interviews with SK members until July 2015. After that, other commitments arose and I figured I could not provide the flow of content I promised my superiors and took a step back, leaving SK.
If you are an eSports fan who is looking to get into writing or simply want to chat about eSports across the years, you can always find me on my twitter - @Adddler . Below you can find some trivia about me.
BroodWar / StarCraft 2
BW pro: sAvi0r and Flash (for different reasons)
BW race: Terran
BW series: Hana Daetoo MSL
SC2 pro: Creator and Stephano (different reasons)
SC2 race: Terran
SC2 series: ThorZain vs Polt at DreamHack Open 2012 and any big final played by King MvP
StarCraft related article: God of the Battlefield
Pro: Alexey 'Cypher' Yanushevski
Map: Aerowalk, BloodRun (100% Eastern European choices)
Series: Cooller vs Cypher. Especially the brilliant defensive Cypher game on Aero (game 4).
Rivalry: Rapha vs Cypher
Quake related articled: The Quadra Interview and the one and only Cypher PoV
League of Legends
Pro(s): FORG1VEN, Faker, WeiXiao, NaMei and Mata.
Position: AD Carry
Series: All the World Elite games at IPL5, KT Bullets versus SK Telecom T1 K OGN Summer 2013 Final and LPL Summer Final between StarHorn Royal Club and EDG (The perfect Jinx game by Namei).
League related article: Most of TeamLiquid.net's takes on the 2012 and 2013 OGN tournaments.
Team: Fnatic (2008-2009)
Series: AGAiN vs Fnatic at WCG 2009. Literally broke a cup after the game. One of the most emotional series for me as a spectator.
Gfinity League of Legends - August 2013 (SK Gaming)
EU LCS Week 5 London - June 2014 (SK Gaming / onGamers)
GamesCom 2014 Cologne - August 2014 (SK Gaming / onGamers)
EU LCS 2015 Week 7 Spring Split - March 2015 (SK Gaming)
Intel Extreme Masters Season IX Katowice - March 2015 (SK-Gaming)
karrigan MVP of ESWC by HLTV.org
SteelSeries presents 'Best Of ESWC 2011'
Fresh Pots CS special featuring GeT_RiGhT
ESWC 2011: 29 SK POV demos
RobbaN: "had Na`Vi's CT play in my head"
THE NEW JERSEY