The VR League, along with ESL, Oculus and Intel, hosted the Echo Arena Invitational this past weekend at the ESL studios in Leicester, UK. Top teams, four each from Europe and North America, were invited to see which would reign supreme in a battle of regions prior. Some players traveled over 20 hours by plane, train or automobile to reach the studio where they competed in the double elimination tournament for their share of a $15,000 prize pool.
The brackets began with the top EU and NA teams pitted against the lowest ranked teams of the opposite region and the middle teams against each other.
If a team lost, they were bumped to the lower bracket, but since it was double elimination, they could win their way back into the upper bracket. This is exactly when Blast lost to 11.5, but then they beat Team Gravity and Aftershock.
Although the team members were somewhat altered, the final teams included players who competed against each other only a few months ago at the Grand Finals in Katowice, Poland. Eclipse took home the world championship title from that event and many European players wanted a rematch. They definitely had one on Sunday!
The final matches between Eclipse and Blast were nothing short of thrilling. Blast threatened to dethrone the kings by shutting Eclipse down in round one in a best of three. Eclipse also struggled in the second round and despite a goal from Simeon with 11 seconds left in the match, Blast already had a 2-point led so it was too late at that point. For the first time in the season, Eclipse was put in a position of having to make a comeback.
Despite the wins, Blast didn’t have time to celebrate because it was a double elimination tournament. If they were going to knock the number one team off their throne, they would have to win another set of best of three.
Blast came out strong and slaughtered Eclipse in the next round with a win of 4-21. Since it’s best of three in each set, Blast simply had to continue shutting out the champions for five more minutes of game play.
While Blast was probably anticipating victory by this point, it wasn’t meant to be. Eclipse played like the champions they are and scored 16 points in the next round before they even allowed Blast to score a 2-point goal with seven seconds left.
The final game of the day was the most exciting. The teams fought fervently for the title that would determine which region had the top team – NA or EU.
Eclipse came out strong, but Blast was right on their heels. When Eclipse would score, Blast would match them, up to the final seconds of the game when Blast’s Lone Gecko scored a 3-point goal.
At this point, Eclipse gained possession so all they had to do was keep the disc away from Blast for eleven seconds in order to secure a win. That’s exactly what they did and Eclipse was named champions of the Echo Arena Invitational.