Virtus.pro have advanced to the grand final after out-playing Titan 2-1 with map scores of 11:16 on de_nuke, 16:13 on de_cache and 16:4 on de_inferno.
With only European teams remaining in play at the ESEA Season 18 Global Finals, the upper bracket final saw two red-hot teams facing off: the French-Belgian-Swiss mix of Titan and the Poles of Virtus.pro.
With the last match of the day drawing into the Dallasonian dusk and beyond, it was de_nuke that would be the battleground for the first map of contention. Interestingly, this choice may be one of the last times that nuke is seen as a map of play for a long while.
|kuben and VP guarantee themselves a grand final placing photo hltv.org|
Belying the common superstition that de_nuke is a horrendously CT-sided map, Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans worked his men like a master puppeteer on Titan's T-half, giving them the advantage at the half over VP (8:7), despite the Poles' reputation for stellar CT play on de_nuke.
Virtus.pro countered with a flawless T pistol and looked like they were on their way toward gaining some breathing space by advancing to a 10:8 advantage, and with Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski in hard-fragging mode.
|Titan bid nuke adieu with textbook T and CT play photo hltv.org|
However, with Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Kenny "kennyS" Schrub beginning to garner frags in piecemeal fashion, Titan made VP look more and more like a plough stuck in the mud, and Titan shut down the map with solid defense at a score of 16:11.
de_cache began with all indications of a Titan shutdown withCédric "RpK" Guipouy and team winning their T pistol and the next few rounds.
Virtus.pro did finally get ahold of their CT-sided muse eventually, and Paweł "byali" Bieliński in particular helped heap rounds up for the Poles.
The fifteenth round saw helter-skelter play from both teams at mid with Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas delivering with his characteristic Five-Seven play to give VP the advantage with a 9:6 half.
|apEX let loose an artillery barrage against VP on Titan's CT half of de_cache photo hltv.org|
Despite the twenty-two year old Madesclaire delivering insane play with the USP on the second pistol round, Virtus.pro started to grab a foothold and gain Terrorist rounds.
On the 24th round, a miniature comeback was halted by a one-versus-two from Bieliński, which made a visibly frustrated Schrubforce off his headphones on the live camera.
With such suggestions of possible tilt, next round the resurgentMathieu "Maniac" Quiquerez got three pistol kills to give Titan the win and reverse momentum yet again, with the score 13:12 for Virtus.pro.
Virtus.pro kept composure however and their combination of aggressive site takes and loose style ended the map in their favour, 16:13. This win marked the first time a match was going to map three at these ESEA finals.
|byali was particularly impressive on cache photo hltv.org|
With the third map being de_inferno, it was to be expected that Titan in-game leader Droolans would have the anti-strat book ready for Virtus.pro.
Unfortunately, Lady History (and drawn-out series) has a way of being unkind to Titan, and Virtus.pro took off with overbearing Terrorist play, pummeling a confused-looking Titan into the ground.
Despite well-intended save rounds meant to restart Titan's economy, VP continued exploding onto both sites with not much answer from the French-majority team; the half ended 11:4 for Virtus.pro.
A mid-rush worked no magic for the teetering Titan, and they were left saying sayonara as final rounds bled away, especially afterSchrub bought an SG553 in a supposed move of impatience and frustration.
Filip "NEO" Kubski added final insult to injury with a knife onDroolans in the same round, bringing a somewhat anti-climactic third map to a close 16:4.