After six days of competition, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive StarSeries Season 3 Final champion has finally been crowned. FaZe Clan overcame Danish juggernauts Astralis to take home their first premier tournament win since the acquisition of Nikola "NiKo" Kovač. Let's take a look at how the final day unfolded.
Business as usual in the semifinals
The first semifinal series was between FaZe Clan and HellRaisers, a team that not many had thought could make it to this point. Despite the fact that FaZe secured the 2-0 sweep, it was by no means easy. FaZe jumped ahead to an early lead in Game 1 on Mirage before HellRaisers fought back to take a 9-6 lead at the half. That second half was all FaZe, with in-game leader Finn "karrigan" Andersen dominating the map and leading his team with a 30/16 KD (kills/deaths) to pick up the 16-13 win.
Moving over to Train in Game 2, things were once again hotly contested, as FaZe Clan dominated in the first half, gaining a 12-3 lead and preparing to march right into the grand finals. HellRaisers had other plans, though, coming out of the break with renewed energy and taking seven of the first eight rounds to get within striking distance. FaZe started to stabilize before HellRaisers fought back to make it 15-14, needing one more round to force overtime. FaZe's Fabien "kioShiMa" was having none of it, picking up a double kill to lock up the final round and move to the grand finals.
This left Astralis and Natus Vincere to battle it out in the next semifinal, which was much more one-sided than the earlier series. Things looked fairly competitive early in Game 1 on Overpass, with Na'Vi playing Astralis pretty close with a 4-4 tie after eight rounds. Then, Astralis flipped the switch and ran away with the game, going 12-4 the rest of the way to pick up a 16-8 win. Astralis' Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen led Astralis with a strong 21/14 KD and 96.6 ADR (average damage per round), both game highs.
Game 2 switched over to Nuke, and Astralis meant business. After 10 rounds, they had put up a 9-1 lead that turned into another 11-4 lead at the half with a dominating CT-side performance. Despite winning the pistol round, Astralis faltered in the second half and lost six straight rounds to let Na'Vi bring the score to 13-10. In Round 24, Astralis' Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye came up with a triple kill to shut Na'Vi down and move his team to the grand finals with two more round wins for a 16-10 win.
FaZe vs. Astralis: A rivalry is born
In a grand finals rematch of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice just last month, FaZe took on Astralis in a much-hyped crowd pleaser for the StarSeries finale. The first game, played on Mirage, went back and forth the entire time, leaving the outcome in doubt until the final round of regulation. FaZe shot out of the gate with a 4-1 lead before Astralis battled back to take a 7-5 lead after 12 rounds. At that point, FaZe put together six dominating rounds, including the 13th straight pistol round win, to put it up 13-7. Astralis never wavered in its faith, putting together a masterful T-side from there on out. Astralis AWPer Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz led the way with many ridiculous snipes to post a 28/17 KD, that included 16 kills with his signature sniper rifle.
For as close as Game 1 was, Game 2 on Nuke was anything but. Although Astralis kept it a bit close early on, being down just 3-4 after seven rounds, FaZe then kicked it into gear and never looked back. They took an 11-4 lead into the half, won their 15th straight pistol round and easily finished Astralis with a 16-6 win to force a Game 3. Astralis' dev1ce was uncharacteristically off with his suboptimal 10/19 KD, while kioShiMa went off for FaZe to the tune of a 24/11 KD and 102.5 ADR.
With everything coming down to Inferno in Game 3, it was only fitting that both teams went the distance. After the first half ended at a 10-5 scoreline in favor of Astralis, it seemed like the Danes were going to waltz right into a grand finals victory, but the teams fought tooth-and-nail during the second half and eventually came to a standstill. Although Astralis took a 15-13 lead, FaZe's NiKo willed his team to two straight wins to force overtime. Despite an impressive showing from Kjaerbye, finishing with a 32/20 KD, FaZe overcame the Danes to take the map 19-17 and claim the StarSeries Season 3 crown.
More important than the $125,000 prize they just won, FaZe got revenge for their IEM Katowice grand finals loss to Astralis, possibly giving birth to an epic rivalry. With these teams playing at such a high level of late, there is no doubt that this will be a highly anticipated matchup for months to come.