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Esports enthusiasts have already been treated to an abundance of exciting moments this year. Many traditional sports have been forced to shut down as a result of the coronavirus crisis, but competitive gaming has continued to entertain viewers with thrilling online tournaments. These are the 10 greatest moments so far in 2020:
Spacestation Gaming Make America Great Again
The dominant Ninjas in Pyjamas were the heavy favourites in the esports betting at Unikrn as they prepared to face Spacestation Gaming in the Grand Final of the $3 million Six Invitational. NiP have dominated the Rainbow Six Siege scene for the past couple of years, and North American teams have had little joy, so most viewers expected Spacestation Gaming to be annihilated. NiP opened up a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five showdown, and they were on the brink of victory after winning the first four rounds on the next map. However, Spacestation Gaming roared back to life and ended up clinching an exhilarating 3-2 victory. It marked the end of a long period of dominance for the EU region and put North America back in the ascendancy for the first time in years. The star of the show was actually a Canadian player, as former Evil Geniuses star Troy “Canadian” Jaroslawski finally snapped his spell of losing in Grand Finals.
Team Secret Sweep World Champions Aside
Another amazing underdog victory saw Team Secret defeat world champions Team OG at the BLAST Bounty Hunt. OG stars N0tail, JerAx, ana, Ceb and Topson are the five highest-earning esports players of all-time after winning The International in 2019 and 2018. However, they proved no match for an exciting Team Secret line-up led by Dota 2 legend Puppey and former Team Liquid star Matumbaman. It represented a fifth consecutive tournament victory for Team Secret, who also clinched the OGA Dota PIT 2020 Online without losing a single game. They are now on a four-month unbeaten streak in finals matches, and they could end up as the favourites for The International 2020.
ZywOo Pulls Off 1v5 Deagle Ace Clutch
Vitality AWPer Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut has now overtaken s1mple as the world’s top CS:GO player in the HLTV rankings. He showed why he enjoys such an exalted status by pulling off an insane 1v5 Deagle clutch back in January. The French rookie found himself stranded alone on Dust 2’s Catwalk, and he responded by switching from the Scout sniper rifle to the classic Desert Eagle. He used it to kill off three opponents with headshots, then took down another enemy, planted the bomb and finished off his final rival with another inch-perfect headshot.
Rogue Roars to Victory in Katowice
StarCraft II star Lee “Rogue” Byeong Yeol produced a brilliant performance to defeat Joo “Zest” Sung Wook in the finals of IEM Katowice. It made him the first ever two-time winner of the event, which is the biggest tournament outside of the World Championships. The event was held behind closed doors in March as a result of the developing coronavirus crisis, creating a strange atmosphere in the arena, but there was no doubting Rogue’s quality as he wiped out Zest’s economy and grabbed the final victory.
PVDDR Wins the Magic World Championship
Brazilian gamer Paulo “PVDDR” Damo da Rosa became the top earning esports star of 2020 when he secured a dominant victory at the Magic World Championship XXVI. The event brought the world’s best 16 Magic: The Gathering Arena players together in Hawaii to determine the world champion. PVDDR had played the game for 23 years, but this was his first ever world title, so it was a truly magical moment for him. He was in devastating form throughout the event, but rival Márcio Carvalho put up a tremendous fight in the Grand Final. PVDDR took an early lead, continuing his hot streak, but then some scintillating play from Carvalho saw him force a fourth and final match, which PVDDR edged.
Excel Esports Signs Wolfiez
Fifteen-year-old Fornite player Jaden “Wolfiez” Ashman became an overnight millionaire when he and teammate Rojo finished second in the duos event at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. He has maintained that strong form and he is now the world’s highest earning Fortnite pro of 2020, having finished second at two FNCS Invitational events already. Last month he joined Excel Esports, which had only competed in League of Legends up to that point. “I’m really excited to be joining Excel Esports as their first-ever Fortnite player – 2019 was such a massive year for me and I know with Excel’s support this year can be even bigger and better,” said Wolfiez.
Warma Wins in Jönköping
Enzo “Warma” Flock produced heroics to prevail in one of the most competitive Hearthstone tournaments ever seen. A total of 350 players from 40 different countries entered the Masters Tour Online: Jönköping, but Warma delivered an electric performance to crush rival Pignas 3-1 in the final. It made him the third Masters Tour champion from France, following in the footsteps of Théo “Felkeine” Dumont and Zakarya “xBlyzes” Hail and cementing the French dominance over the Hearthstone scene.
New Danes on the Block
Astralis have dominated the CS:GO scene for the past couple of years, storming to victory in every available Major, but they are now on the brink of falling apart. Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth and Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander have stepped back from the roster, citing stress and burnout, and that could create a power vacuum in the CS:GO scene. Another Danish team may be poised to fill the void. The MAD Lions quintet of acoR, Bubzki, roejJ, sjuush and AcilioN have emerged as the top CS:GO earners of 2020 after storming to victory at the $500,000 Flashpoint Season 1 in April. Their finest moment of the year came when they beat MIBR 2-1 in the final of that tournament, and the future looks bright for the pride of MAD Lions.
Perfect Coordination from JD Gaming
Chinese teams have dominated the LoL scene for the past couple of years, so fans were naturally disappointed when the season was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the action eventually resumed, and JD Gaming emerged as the surprise winners of their first ever LPL Spring split. Big names like FunPlusPhoenix and Invictus Gaming fell by the wayside, leaving JD Gaming up against Top Esports in the final showdown. Many expected a clean sweep for JDG, but Top Esports put up a tremendous fight, and it required perfect coordination from JD Gaming to edge an action-packed five-game series. The game-winning play saw LvMao use Bard’s ultimate to freeze every member of TES apart from JackeyLove. Kanavi zoned out JackeyLove and JDG slaughtered their opponents to seize the crown.
Top Esports Win Mid-Season Cup
Top Esports refused to be disheartened by the nature of their LPL Spring Grand Final defeat, and they went into the inaugural Mid-Season Cup full of confidence. The event brought the top four Chinese and the top four South Korean teams together to crown an Asian champion. Reigning champions FunPlus Phoenix beat JD Gaming in the first semi-final, and then Top Esports vanquished the last remaining South Korean team, Gen.G, in the other semi. FPX were the clear favourites in the final, but JackeyLove and mid-laner Zhuo “Knight” Ding were on song as TES clinched a superb 3-1 victory.