It took all five games to find a winner as Team Empire came back from a two game deficit to join Hellraisers in the LAN finals in Stockholm next year and take home their €7000 prize.
Going into the final of the Esportal League Invitational, Virtus Pro Polar needed to avoid thinking about the results of their previous encounters against Team Empire. Before this match Team Empire had won six of their eight matches against their Russian rivals. After a five-game epic Team Empire were eventually able to continue their good record and dispatch their opponent to take home €7000 and a spot in the Esportal League finals. They join Hellraisers in the LAN finals, who won the first open qualifier earlier this month.
Virtus Pro Polar looked to be full of confidence against Team Empire until the third game. After a poor start the combination of Tidehunter and Disruptor ultimates and the sheer power of Roman 'Resolut1on' Fominok's Tiny began causing issues in the team fights and in the final moments tore into the enemy base to force an end to the third game and give Team Empire some hope in the match. The fourth game was evenly contested again, and while Virtus Pro Polar were ahead in kills for most of the game, a botched team fight let Team Empire recover. They were able to continue their pressure to even the scores and bring the final into a fifth and final game.
In the final game Team Empire were able to take first blood and while the early game was contested evenly, another bad fight for Virtus Pro Polar after twenty minutes let Empire get into their base and take the top lane of barracks. Things began spiralling out of control for Polar and soon faced mega creeps just after thirty minutes into the game. Unable to compete against Empire's Death Prophet and Gyrocopter the game quickly ended and Team Empire cemented a great comeback performance to win the qualifier.
Unfortunately for Esportal, scheduling issues has been a major problem in this qualifier. Exits from Secret Team, Cloud 9 and Team Tinker meant Virtus Pro Polar were the only team ranked within the top ten left in the competition. Replacements Balkan Bears Corleone and 4 Friends and Chrillee were unable to get past the first round of the qualifier. But Cloud 9's replacement mYinsanity.Sensei were able to get a surprise victory over Virtus Pro to reach the semi-finals, with the first game only lasting seventeen minutes.
In the semi-finals Team Empire were able to easily dispatch mYinsanity.Sensei in two games with relative ease leaving the Serbian team with the €1250 prize, while Virtus Pro Polar were forced into a final game against International 3 winners Alliance. Without Jonathan 'Loda' Berg, the Swedish team lined up with two members of Team Tinker as stand-ins, with Pelle 'Pajkatt' Olsson Lille and former-team mate Jerry 'EGM' Lundkvist appearing in the match. Alliance were able to break into the enemy base in the deciding game, but Virtus Pro Polar were comfortably ahead in both kills and experience and made sure they secured their place in the qualifier final.
With the first two qualifier winners Hellraisers and Team Empire ready for the LAN finals in Stockholm next year we await the announcement of the next qualifier. Eight qualifiers have been announced in total, with the remaining six featuring more invitational and open qualifiers, but also two ladder qualifiers. Information on the upcoming qualifiers will be announced soon. The LAN finals will take place in March 2015.