MLG X Games Aspen, the year's first seriously big pro Counter-Strike event, took place over the weekend, and people were expecting big things. It did not disappoint. Not in the slightest.
Day 1 actually saw many of the sport's top teams -- including Dream Hack Winter 2014 champs LDLC -- lose in relatively inauspicious fashions, but apparently they were all just warming up. On day 2, pretty much everyone -- including the golden trio: LDLC, NiP and Fnatic -- brought their A games out of cold storage and charged into the final stages of the tournament.
This resulted in two of the best Counter-Strike sets I've ever seen. First up, there was the semi-final match between NiP and Fnatic, full of dizzying highs and heartbreaking lows, especially for Fnatic. They have looked better in the past, but they still gave NiP one hell of a fight, and the resulting back-and-forth drama is edge-of-your-seat melting material. (From friction, I guess? I'm no seat edge scientist. I majored in armchair ergonomics with a minor in gender studies.)
SPOILER: NiP won, propelling them into the finals against LDLC. Yep, it was a rematch of their already legendary Dream Hack Winter 2014 set, NiP fighting for vengeance, LDLC pushing back to prove that Dream Hack wasn't a fluke.
Once again, LDLC and NiP traded wild comebacks and momentum shifts en route to another LDLC win. Even if you know the outcomes, though, both of these matches are well worth watching. We're talking Counter-Strike at its finest: ultra-fast paced, drenched in drama, and mesmerisingly tense. It's a great reminder of why this sport has boosted (or bird-surfed) its way up the eSports pecking order so quickly in spite of some ugly scandals.
Here's to many more great matches -- matches that make this stuff look like child's play -- and less of, you know, that other thing.