It's been close to two months since the TBS-televised Counter-Strike Eleague kicked off, and the thrilling conclusion is happening this weekend. The semifinals are kicking off tomorrow at 22:00 BST / 23:00 CEST with Fnatic squaring off against Na'Vi, followed by Mousesports vs Virtus.Pro at 03:00 BST / 04:00 CEST.
The winner of those games move on to the grand finals, played at 21:00 BST / 22:00 CEST on Saturday, with a first prize of $390,000 on the line.
Though that line-up should make for an exciting culmination to Eleague, you can't really shake the feeling that the $1.3 million league didn't quite live up to its full potential. There's two reasons for that.
For one, the Brazilian line-up of FalleN, fer, coldzera, fnx, and TACO were disqualified when they moved from the Luminosity Gaming organisation to SK Gaming. Contrary to how pretty much every other Counter-Strike league in the world works, a team's spot in the Eleague is tied to the organization rather than the players. Thus, the move from Luminosity to SK was deemed against the Eleagues transfer rules, costing both the Brazilians and the Danish line-up previously known as SK Gaming their spots in the league.
In other words, the best Counter-Strike team in the world and winners of back-to-back Majors were cut from the playoffs due to a technicality. No matter who ends up winning, SK's disqualification will be a pretty significant footnote to their result.
Second, the group stage of the league was frankly kind of boring. Eleague included a whopping 24 teams, and making the field so wide meant a lot of second and third rate teams were included, particularly from the NA region. If it weren't for the visa issues that kept Astralis' team captain Karrigan from playing on the first day of their group, the only group that had any real excitement on paper was group B, featuring G2 Esports and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
The sheer amount of lackluster teams meant the Eleague group stage never really hit the high notes. Hopefully that'll change next season; TBS has already revealed that season 2 will be shorter than the first one.
Tune in to Twitch to watch the semis and finals - or check your local TV listings, as many traditional sports channels have picked up broadcasting rights for the Eleague.