North American esports fans have always had it rough in the professional esports scene. On one side of the esports world, Koreans have monopolized the international stage from the early days of “Starcraft” to the League of Legends World Championships to the newly christened Overwatch League. On the other, Europeans and Brazilians have often commanded the “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” competitive scene. North America just hasn’t been able to catch a break.
Things seem to be turning over a new leaf, however, after Cloud9 defeated FaZe Clan in the ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 finals last weekend. The match could not have been closer, needing double overtime on the third and deciding map.
The Finals started off strong for the “Boys in Blue,” who were already the Cinderella story of the tournament by making it out of groups and qualifying for the quarterfinals, let alone the grand finals.
In the finals, Cloud9 got off to a great start to the excitement of the home crowd, winning the first half of Mirage, 9-6. But FaZe Clan reminded the world why they were one of the favorites to win the tournament by storming a comeback and winning the map, 16-14. For many North American fans, it seemed much too obvious what was about to happen.
Nevertheless, Cloud9 regrouped and dominated the first half of Overpass, 12-3. This time, however, they wouldn’t let FaZe Clan make a comeback. The hometown team closed out the second map, 16-10, to tie up the series and force a best-of-one on Inferno.
No one could’ve anticipated what happened next. The two teams traded back and forth on Inferno until FaZe Clan earned 4 championship points. Surely, the Europeans had it in the bag. Unfortunately for them, Cloud9 had other ideas. They fought off the first 3 championship points, and then Jake “Stewie2K” Yip rose to the moment in the final round of regulation for Cloud9, earning a quad kill to force overtime.
Cloud9 made use of the boost to their economy from winning four straight rounds to earn their own championship point in the first overtime. Still, FaZe Clan would not back down, as Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács pulled off a clutch 1v2 to force a second overtime.
Regardless, Cloud9 would push through in the second overtime to earn 2 more championship points. This time though, they would not be denied, as the crowd’s chants shifted from “USA!” to “Send them home!” In one of the most iconic moments in North American esports history, Cloud9 became the first-ever North American team to win a CS:GO major.
For one of Cloud9’s players, Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, this win serves as validation for the years of work he’s dedicated to CS:GO. After eight group stage exits at Majors, the most of any professional CS:GO player, he’s finally achieved one of his longtime goals as a player. Usually one of the quieter players on the roster, Latham shed tears of joy during his postgame interview.
For Cloud9 as an organization, this win comes as it continues to expand and establish itself as one of the premier esports organizations in the world. As Cloud9’s “League of Legends” team regularly makes it out of groups at Worlds and its affiliate London Spitfire team sits atop the Atlantic division of the Overwatch League, with this CS:GO Major win, it’s clear that CEO Jack Etienne is no longer solely satisfied with domestic success.
And lastly, for North American esports fans, this win comes as a sign of better things to come. Now that they’ve had a taste of international victory, it’s hard to resist. They’ll expect better and better results from their teams on the international stage. If anything, North America is looking to be a rising power in professional CS:GO and in esports overall.