The best playoff match in RGL history?

   sigafoo <3   - 11/21/2017
If you haven't already seen the match, you can watch the VOD below.




What an insane BO3 series


After an incredibly close best of three series, (4) Ascent took the win over (3) Faint Gaming, 2-1. I’ll be going over both the pick/bans, the overall performances on each map, and some of the strategies each team used during key points of each match.

Ashville




Throughout all three maps, Ascent consistently attacked the versatility of the Heavy class. Here on Ashville, they used their first two bans to take away two heavily used minigun sidegrades, forcing the heavy into a much more predictable role. Faint focused on nerfing the engineer, since their own engie player spamfest was not going to be able to play the first map. They also chose to ban the recently added Dragon’s Fury given the success that Ascent’s ma3la had with it during the previous week.

Ascent started strong on Ashville with a 3-1 victory. yomps took complete control of this map, top fragging the server, accounting for over half of Faint’s 11 medic deaths, and nearly out-damaging his demo (Bdonski). Space Ghost’s Coffee also had a great game on sniper, landing only a few frags behind yomps’ dominating performance. Ascent’s well-coordinated bombs to force uber from turkey and the solid play from their flank classes really helped them to control the game.

Faint struggled on this map due to some roster issues. Delpo, Faint’s regular demo, was not able to make it to the game leaving Daffodil to pick up his role. While Daffodil is a great soldier player, this match showed that demo was not his strong suit as he only put out 60% as much damage as Ascent’s Bdonski.

Upward




Once again, we can see Ascent heavily focusing down the Heavy. As Faint had their engineer back, they focused on restricting the Pyro. Ironically, Faint ended up utilizing the Pyro just as much as Ascent did on this map, so that decision was probably regretted. The final few bans were spread among the Sniper, Pyro and Engineer. 

Despite Faint Gaming winning the map 2-0, this was an extremely close match which saw Faint utilizing the prolander format to its fullest extent. In one half alone, Mirrorman, duckrider32, and spamfest each ran three of the five off-classes in scout, soldier, heavy, engineer, and spy. 




duckrider32 top fragged in both halves, incredibly impressive given that he ran a Spy for 40% of the second half. Daffodil stepped up big time this map by top damaging both halves, making up for his less-than-stellar performance on Ashville. Ascent’s offense in the 1st half was poor, as they didn’t even cap the third point. They struggled to maintain their aggression while pushing the objective, which gave Faint enough time to respawn and respond to every push. However, they adapted and improved in the second half.



Here is Ascent’s second half push of 3rd point. Bdonski, circled in red, is using his aggressive positioning to both force Daffodil back behind cover and to deter Faint from spamming out the cart. Bdonski doesn’t over-aggress in this situation but instead plays smart and with his medic, leading them on an “aggressive offensive hold” that prevented Faint from heavily contesting third. This clinical and patient push from Ascent gave them a competitive time heading into the fourth point, but they unfortunately stalled and took almost five minutes to finish the round (total offensive time of 9:51). 

On their final offense, Faint Gaming was consistently “all right.” They pushed the first three points in just over 7 minutes, and failed their first last-push by using only two of their players. Fortunately for them, their final push was very well executed. Let's break it down.

1) duckrider32 kills yomps and paddie putting them on ~20s respawns and giving Faint a 2-man advantage.
2) mirrorman then cleverly bombs over the sentry gun, killing the engineer and the sentry with 35hp left.
3) turkey gets a full ubercharge and pushes in with Daffodil. mirrorman drops down from the balcony, and they sandwich and vaporize the combo of Ascent before yomps or paddie could respawn.

Faint Gaming quickly pushed forwards to challenge the respawns while desperately pushing the cart, winning with only 4 seconds left on the clock.

You can rewatch this moment here.



Badwater




On Badwater, Ascent yet again heavily nerfed the Heavy while swapping out their 2nd map Fists of Steel ban in favor of the Wrangler, showing respect for spamfest’s powerful engineer play. Faint Gaming once again responded with early bans against the Pyro while also banning the Kritzkrieg in response to the success Ascent had with it on Upward.

Faint Gaming opted to start on defense. This decision is not at all unusual, as playing defense allows you to control the pace of the game and give you a time and a mindset to work with on offense. Unfortunately, they put a lot of pressure on themselves by letting Ascent roll through the first three points in 4:35. Turkey was killed twice in rapid succession, allowing Ascent to keep the cart rolling. Faint Gaming played smart though, and gave up third point so that they could set up a strong final hold. They ended up holding the final point for about 4 minutes, putting up a respectable defensive time of 8:26.

Most Prolander games on Badwater last under 8 minutes, so this should have been a time Faint could beat. Unfortunately, it seems that Faint’s lack of coordination in pushing the first point did them in. I think this clip really shows how much went wrong for them during their first point pushes.

1) Spamfest and Carcin get taken out in tunnel. Then duckrider32 tries to go for a stab with no distraction and dies as well.
2) Daffodil alone with the medic has the high ground on Ascent, but fails to notice the teleporter active to his left.
3) Scratchy takes the tele and starts to build a sentry gun directly behind Daffodil. Turkey pops the ubercharge onto Daffodil who tries to push forward with only a soldier.
4) Scratchy, who scares off the enemy sniper, is able to get his sentry upgrade to a level 2. Which helps get damage on to both the Demo and Soldier. Then chases down the Turkey to secure the medic pick.

You can watch the clip here.



In the end, Faint just was playing too spread out. If they didn’t put people into the tunnel but instead pushed with their entire team through cliff side, they would have easily bullied Ascent out of first point entirely with their high ground. If Faint would have been able to successfully push the first point in under 4 minutes, they probably would have won the game. The rest of their pushes were clean, but their poor first point performance didn’t leave them with enough time to work with, and in the end Ascent came away with the win.

Final thoughts


If Faint Gaming picks up a great demo next season and finds consistency on their roster, they will have all the pieces needed to make a championship run. Lack of coordination and an unfortunate performance on Ashville lost them this match, but they will hopefully be able to make a strong performance next season.

Ascent looked strong, and their ability to adapt to different situations was impressive. They have to be more careful on their payload defense and learn to not take any needless deaths. Better to run away and contest the next point than to die and give up two points for free. Despite some mistakes this match, they keep looking better and better as their games go on. I thought Velocity eSports would have had an easy win over Ascent based on Ascent’s regular season performance, but after watching this match I think it’s going to be one hell of a fight.

(2) Velocity eSports vs (4) Ascent will be played sometime between Nov. 26 and Dec 3rd. Keep an eye on RGL.gg for updates and the exact match time. And as always, it’ll be casted on twitch.tv/eXtvEsports.