Sixteen teams entered the Championship Bracket after the end of the Qualification stage. Week 4 saw them battle it out over two short best of one series to see which four teams would be relegated to the second division. Our broadcast team caught two of the closest matches of the evening; here are the highlights:
Our first teams of the night looking to remain in the upper bracket of the Championship Division were Cardiff and Derby. As 6th and 11th seed respectively, this looked to be a close match and it didn’t disappoint as all 12 rounds needed to be played in order to find our winner on a very defender sided Oregon
Despite the defender sided meta we find ourselves in, it is still surprising to see a match tilt so heavily in favour of the defense as 9 out of the 12 rounds played were won by the defense. This may have been, at least in part, due to the very slow-paced attacks that came out from each team; it wasn’t uncommon to see all 10 players alive with less than a minute to go, which often lead to slightly rushed and frantic executions by the attack.
Starting on defense, Cardiff immediately piled on the pressure as they won the opening three rounds to complete their first site rotation, Round 4, however, would produce a stunning play from ShayyP, after yet another stalled attack led to a rushed execution in the closing seconds. ShayyP started planting the defuser with only 10 seconds left on the timer and was the sole player standing for Derby by the time he’d finished. Despite all odds, he managed to pull off a magnificent 3K clutch to win Derby’s first round in style:
Unfortunately, that would also be the only round Derby would win in the first half of the game, leaving Cardiff with a commanding 5-1 lead as they moved onto their attacking half.
Derby fired back by mounting their own strong defence, winning four consecutive rounds to tie the scoreline at 5-5 thanks to the efforts of ShayyP, collecting his second 3K in round 8, and Haza, who collected 7 kills across the following two rounds including a beautiful 4K clutch:
Despite Derby’s comeback, Cardiff took the last two rounds of the game to secure the win, in no small part thanks to Decka collecting 12 kills on the attacking half, to end with a 19/5 K/D. The final two rounds played out in vastly different ways despite both being won by Cardiff.
With no deaths until the last 25 seconds, round 11 had a frantic ending as Cardiff attempted to execute onto the site. AngryScots_Man somehow planted in amongst the chaos and was rewarded by being teamkilled. Left in a 1v2 situation, Derby’s Haza managed to kill both players, but was half a second short from being able to disable the defuser as Cardiff secured the round and moved onto match point:
Meanwhile, round 12 was a reasonably comfortable win for Cardiff; once again cutting it close in terms of time, they fragged out to win the round with only 10 seconds to spare and take the game 7-5.
This victory meant that Cardiff would remain in the upper bracket while Derby would have to play Warwick, on Orgeon once again, to save themselves from relegation. Fortunately for Warwick, they secured a 7-5 win to stay in the Championship Division, pushing Derby down to the Division 2 playoffs.
Going from one close game to an even closer one, we next watched as Heriot-Watt and Sunderland battled it out on Clubhouse to avoid relegation after losing their first matches. Heriot-Watt, in particular, were looking to prove themselves after a bruising 7-0 loss to DMU, a surprising result given that Heriot-Watt seeded 2nd. Sunderland looked to be in a more comfortable position, having only narrowly lost 8-7 to Staffordshire.
This was an incredibly high stakes match for both teams and that was clear with an arguably cautious start coming out from Heriot-Watt’s first attack onto CCTV/Cash. They began with a slow, but thorough map clear, gaining control of Bedroom before pushing through Construction onto Cash, while simultaneously applying pressure through the Garage and onto the exterior CCTV wall. Ultimately this steady attack worked for them.
However, Sunderland hit back to win their next two rounds on Church/Arsenal and Gym/Bedroom, before losing CCTV/Cash for a second time after MattE picked up 3 kills. With Sunderland then picking up the next two rounds, we were left with a 4-2 split in Sunderland’s favour.
Sunderland used an unusual operator line up for their first two attacking rounds, bringing three hard breach operators; typically only a maximum of two is needed to ensure you are able to open any important walls and hatches. This strategy appeared to pay off in the first round after a reasonably comfortable win onto CCTV/Cash. However, their attack onto Church/Arsenal in the second round was scuppered as Jinxin managed to clutch out a 1v3 to win it for Heriot-Watt:
This seemed to be something of a turning point with Heriot-Watt proceeding to win the next 3 rounds to place themselves on match point going into the final round of regulation. Sunderland was not ready to give up yet, though, and took the 12th round to take us to overtime.
Heriot-Watt began overtime with a confident defense of Gym/Bedroom before moving on to an attack on Church/Arsenal. This was a tense round that went down to the final second and despite some excellent plant denial from Sunderland, MattE was having an amazing game as he secured a 4K to win the 14th round and take the match for Heriot-Watt:
Two players, in particular, stood out in this match, Scotland and MattE.--- who both finished the match with a 79% KOST (KOST stands for Kills, Objectives, Survive and Trades and is a more holistic way of looking at a player’s performance compared to K/D). In addition, MattE.--- finished the first half with a solid 2.0 K/D, however, after an incredible performance on defense and in the ensuing overtime, he finished with an astounding 21 kills and only 6 deaths.
After 4 weeks of fierce competition, here are the 12 teams who remain in the Championship Bracket of the NSE Winter Championship:
|Swansea Storm Green||Swansea|
|Liverpool Arctic Foxes||Liverpool|
|Sledge Hill||Edge Hill|
|Portsmouth Paladins R6||Portsmouth|
Unfortunately, that means we must also say goodbye to the four teams who were relegated from the Championship Bracket: Sunderland, Exeter, Warwick and Newcastle. Sunderland, in particular, deserves a mention for getting so close in both their matches, especially against such strong teams. Over the next few weeks, the remaining teams in the upper and lower brackets will fight it out until we are left with one team in each: our Grand Finalists.
Tune in here at 7PM on Thursday 19th to watch two more teams looking to avoid elimination as they play in the first best of 3 series of the Winter Season.