The first matchup of the week saw first-place Cloud9 take on second-place SK Gaming on Friday, beginning with a tumultuous half to Game 1 on Cache. SK Gaming had a couple of round wins on the CT-side, but couldn’t stop Cloud9 from taking a 9-6 lead into the second half, where C9 dominated SK. Led by Timothy “autimatic” Ta’s 23/13 KD (kills/deaths), Cloud9 took Game 1 in convincing fashion with a 16-9 score. SK Gaming came back in a fury, though, dominating Game 2 on Cobblestone early on. While Cloud9 fought hard to keep SK’s lead to just three rounds heading into the second half, SK’s Fernando “fer” Alvarenga and Marcelo “coldzera” David were simply too much for the NA squad to handle. With fer and coldzera combining for a KD of 55/26, and fer posting a strong game-high 111.0 ADR (average damage per round), SK dominated the second half, finishing the series on a high note with a 16-8 victory.
On Saturday, Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals battled for a chance to move up in the standings, but Immortals would not be denied in Game 1. Immortals took over Cobblestone in the first half on the T-side, thanks in large part to Ricardo “boltz” Prass’ exceptional rifle work. Taking a 12-3 lead into the second half, boltz simply added onto his impressive 24/12 KD and 105.7 ADR as IMT only gave up one round in the second half, taking a 16-4 victory. CLG fought back in Game 2, trading well with IMT throughout the first half on Mirage. Strong play from Ricardo “Rickeh” Mulholland helped CLG stay within one round as the teams entered the second half, but IMT’s Lucas “lucas” Teles could not be stopped, finishing with a game-high ADR of 101.9 as Immortals survived a scrappy CLG to take home a 16-13 win for the 2-0 sweep.
After splitting its first series of the week with NRG Esports, Team Liquid looked to make an impact against league-leaders Cloud9 on Sunday. Liquid had a decent enough showing in Game 1 on Train, but Cloud9’s Jake “Stewie2K” Yip had one of his trademark performances that left TL in awe. Despite only being down 9-6 entering the second half, CLG had no way to stop Stewie2k, who used his hyper-aggressive style to deal a whopping game-high 113.5 ADR. Dominating the second half, through Stewie2K’s dominance with Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert efficient frags, leading to a 25/18 KD, Cloud9 secured the Game 1 win by a 16-10 margin. Team Liquid came storming back in Game 2, though, trading early round wins on Mirage with Cloud9. The tempo swung wildly back-and-forth throughout the match, leading to a TL 8-7 lead after the first half of play. In the end, Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken led the way for Liquid with his 31/14 KD and game-high 108.3 ADR, giving Liquid a 16-13 win and a 1-1 series tie.
In the closing series of the week, SK Gaming moved on from its Saturday stomping of Luminosity Gaming to regional rivals, Immortals. IMT struck first on Sunday, trading well with SK on Overpass to finish the first half with a tenuous 8-7 lead. SK Gaming came back in the second half, tying the game up late, but couldn’t overcome Lucas “steel” Lopes’ hot rifle work. In overtime, Immortals managed to only give up one round to SK Gaming, securing a crucial 19-16 Game 1 win. SK Gaming came back with a vengeance on Cobblestone, dominating Game 2 early on. All of SK looked unbeatable, apart perhaps from former IMT member, Joao “felps” Vasconcellos, taking a 12-3 lead into the second half. coldzera had another exceptional performance in this game, finishing at the top of the server leaderboard with a KD of 26/14 and ADR of 117.0 as SK Gaming split the series 1-1 with Immortals.
Cloud9 has company atop the North American Esports Championship Series standings, as SK Gaming locks up a playoff spot with 39 points, though trails Cloud9 slightly by just five rounds in terms of round differential. Team Liquid takes third place with 30 points, while OpTic Gaming controls fourth place with 27 points and plus-nine rounds over Immortals, who’ve played two more games than OpTic thus far. The action continues next week on Tuesday, as OpTic Gaming take on NRG Esports at 6 p.m ET.