Jared W. July 4, 2019
Lazarus Esports has been crowned the inaugural champion of WINNERS League’s debut North American invitational tournament after a thrilling grand finals victory.
Lazarus defeated New Identity in the final series by a 2-1 margin. The finals included overtime, comebacks, and big individual performances from some of America’s best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive talent.
New Identity got off to a promising start on Overpass. The team played Lazaraus to a standstill, trading rounds back and forth through the end of regulation. Lazarus’ Yassine “Subroza” Taoufik found 36 frags in the game, but New Identity still managed to close the map out in the overtime period for a 19-16 win.
New Identity seemed prepare to win the series outright in game two on Mirage. The squad at one point rattled off seven consecutive rounds in the first half and held a 9-6 advantage at halftime, eventually extending that lead to 11-8 in the second half.
But Lazarus took over from there, winning 8 of the next 10 rounds to seal a 16-13 victory and keep the team’s hopes alive.
The closeness of the series was defined by a clutch round win from Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker during game two in which he was forced to charge through a smoke to stop a late defuse attempt.
yay was again the impact player for Lazarus in game three as New Identity seemed to lose a measure of hope. Lazarus pushed for a 10-3 lead and set up match point at 15-5. New Identity hung on for a few rounds longer, but the quality of Lazarus ultimately shone through as the side closed the game out 16-8 to finish the series.
Subroza and yay were the top performers for Lazarus Esports, netting 74 and 71 frags in the series respectively. Veteran player Skyler “Relyks” Weaver was the only New Identity player to crack 60 with a score of 64, and was also the only member of New Identity to avoid a negative K/D differential.
Lazarus Esports coach and former star player Daniel “fRoD” Montaner gave insight into his team’s approach to the game after the victory, speaking to Lazarus’ focus on its own play above that of its opposition.
“Counter stratting isn't something I believe in, so I make sure we know what we need to about specific players, teams, and more,” fRoD said. “When you focus more on yourself, prepare your game plan, and worry solely on executing it, things will flow easier.”
The coach also credited WINNERS League with providing a great competitive environment as his team has reached new heights, calling it “some of the most enjoyable times I’ve had in Counter-Strike.”
Those are big words coming from an accomplished pro player like fRoD, and they carry a lot of weight.
WIN CEO Serge Vardanyan expressed his appreciation for the participation of all of the teams in the debut North American season of WINNERS League, as well as his admiration for the newly crowned champions at Lazarus.
“We’re proud of all the teams who competed,” Vardanyan said. “We’re excited to continue providing Lazarus, New Identity, and other teams, pro and amateur alike, with a premier competitive experience.”