The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) grand finals took place on the 20th November. The Oracle Arena, Oakland, hosted two of the biggest teams in CS:GO, SK Gaming and Ninjas in Pyjamas. We have a look at the teams competing in the grand finals and who became the champions of IEM Oakland 2016.
Grand final – Ninjas in Pyjamas vs SK Gaming
The grand final featured the all Swedish team, Ninjas in Pyjamas and the Brazilian powerhouse SK Gaming. It was a clash of the titans in this three map thriller. The players to watch: Forest, FalleN and ColdZera. Forest and ColdZera played consistent high-level CounterStrike throughout the tournament. Whilst SK Gaming captain FalleN was on fire with the AWP from the previous series versus Astralis. But how would he fare against the different beast that is NiP?
Game 1 – Train
Recently named the best Train team in the world SK Gaming went into the map with confidence. Despite SK’s recognition on train they lost the opening pistol round. NiP took the round from their CT side, after successfully denying the bomb plant from SK. Although NiP won the first round, Get Right made a huge blunder totally mis-spraying from the B site. As a result SK answered back straight away with FER catching the enemies whilst disadvantaged using only the Tec-9.
Despite this, Forest managed two M4 frags early to give NiP hope, the veteran took the Swedes score to 2-3. SK saw the momentum starting to swing so therefore decided to take an early timeout. The timeout played a huge role, gaining the correct information and using it effectively. The score was now 5-3 to SK Gaming. ColdZera won an easy 1v2 due to his skills and higher hp. Whilst Pyth and Forest were playing well SK remained in full control of the first half. The Brazilians led the half 11-4.
The Ninjas had a mountain to climb, in addition SK Gaming are highly regarded as the best team in the world on their Train counter-terrorist side. Similarly the Brazilians took the pistol round in impressive fashion, ColdZera and FER putting in noticeable performances. However NiP continuously got the bomb plant for the added money bonus. Although the bombs were being planted the Brazilians shut them down every round. The first map was incredibly one-sided. SK Gaming lived up to their reputation on Train. They never dropped a single round on their CT side. Equally they stomped NiP, the map ended 16-4.
Game 2 – Cache
The opening round was extremely interesting. Forest and FER grabbed back-to-back USP headshots to their enemies until it eventually came down to a 1v1 duel. FER came out the victor of the duel to put SK ahead. With the game at 2-2, NiP went into the next round with all AK47s across the board. The Swedes managed to lose the round, regardless of having the better arsenal. The map was very back and forth that was until Get Right began warming up by taking more favorable duels.
Round 10 was an imperative one as SK went for a high risk buy with FalleN and ColdZera both on glass cannon (no armor) AWPs. But the high risk buy didn’t pay off, it resulted in a lost round. Nonetheless, SK never learned their lesson from this. The Brazilians then went for an even more dangerous buy-in with two AWPs and an auto sniper. The result of this was the same, a loss. At this point NiP had a huge lead with the map at 10-3. Pyth’s fragging transitioned well from Train to Cache and this time Forest joined him. The first half ended at 10-5 to NiP. SK managed to cling on picking up an extra two rounds.
A great headshot from Forest gave NiP an instant advantage, from this they grabbed the pistol round. However ColdZera responded immediately with fantastic headshots on two of the NiP players each of them taking only one bullet each in quick succession. The world class Brazilian helped bring the score to 6-12, then continued on to win a 1v1 to close the gap further to 7-12. ColdZera put in a top tier performance winning yet another 1v1 clutch, despite the amazing plays the Swedes led 12-9.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas had their backs against the wall. The Brazilians were beginning to breathe down their necks. When they needed it most Forest confronted an on-form ColdZera and won out. At round 26 the map started heating up. ColdZera, Forest and Pyth were all playing incredibly well. Likewise Brazilian captain FalleN began hitting his targets. The score was 14-14, the map came down to the wire. NiP snatched the huge 29th round with a clutch double kill from Pyth. Xizt came alive with the auto sniper in the final round of the map with a deadly headshot to FalleN. The map ended 16-14 to Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Game 3 – Cobblestone
NiP came out firing in the pistol round in the third map of the IEM Oakland grand final. Additionally with all the advantages the Swedes continued the momentum and went 3-0 up. However it changed during the first buy round for SK Gaming, FNX shut down the last remaining NiP player. Regardless of this NiP were firmly in control of the game. The map looked promising for the Swedes lead by Xizt who had eight kills and only one death in the opening six rounds.
Taco grabbed three crisp P250 kills to put SK at 2-5. Equally important was ColdZera’s 4k a round after, whilst on an eco round. In spite of the small hiccups the Ninjas kept a handle on their lead, even though the tension for them increased. Round 15 saw SK Gaming at a slight disadvantage in their arsenal with FER only on a CZ. However a great round from FalleN rendered the CZ purchase a non-factor for the team. SK remained behind by five rounds, at 5-10.
The Brazilians barely took the second half pistol round as Pyth put the team under immense pressure. The Swede almost managed a sneaky defuse but was eventually spotted out. SK continued to sweep the Ninjas in Pyjamas, only losing one player in the 18th round. At round 21, SK were on the heels of NiP. Again they lost only one player and were closing the gap at 10-11. The all Swedish side struggled to cope with a red hot ColdZera.
Round 23 was tense for the young Brazilian Taco. The rifler clutched out a 1v2 on the terrorist side whilst the CTs had to defuse the bomb. Dropping two rounds behind NiP had to come up with something. Xizt on the auto sniper was that something. He picked up three kills with the Scar 20 to bring the score to 13-12 to SK. Despite being in the lead, Forests form began to intimidate the Brazilians who decided to take a couple of timeouts.
Similar to the previous map the score was at 14-14 in the grand final. Get Right, Forest and Friberg pulled it out of the bag for the Ninjas, everything connected for them when it mattered most. SK went into the final round of the map with Tec-9s in the hopes of taking the map to overtime. For the Brazilians beating NiP with only Tec-9s was too much to ask. After picking up a kill and managing to get crucial information before going down, Get Right sat nervously hoping he’d done and seen enough. Friberg and Forest benefited the most from Get Right’s efforts and they closed the round. The Swedes won 16-14 and were crowned IEM Oakland 2016 champions.