CWL Birmingham was home to some shocking upsets this weekend as "newer" teams took down veteran titans. While the first two days of games were business-as-usual, the final day saw some seismic movements in the EU standings only a week before Global Pro League begins.
Day 1 was a predictable set of games with EU veterans going against EU contenders. Mainland Europe continued to struggle against UK teams like Splyce and Epsilon eSports. The only surprise was eLevate taking a game off of Red Reserve, who looked surprisingly weak in their home region. Day 2 saw the Open Bracket teams enter into Pool Play. However, the day made up more of the same as top six EU teams continued to sweep their lesser counterparts. The Open Bracket did produce some interesting teams such as MovieStar Riders, from Spain, who beat the usual Spanish stalwarts, Giants Gaming. Even still, the gulf between the top EU teams and everyone else continues to grow each tournament. Splyce even toyed with MovieStar Riders with cheeky plays before sweeping them 3-0. The expected contenders such as eLevate, Red Reserve, Fnatic, Splyce, Epsilon eSports and Millennium all entered into the Playoff Brackets.
Day 3 was when things got interesting. Every team seemed to have been skirmishing as much as possible. Splyce easily glided through the Winner's Bracket. Meanwhile, Red Reserve lost a game to Epsilon eSports in the Winner's Bracket, only to be kicked out of the Loser's Bracket by Fnatic. Red Reserve, long considered one of the top-4 teams in Europe, failed to continue the trend, finishing in 5th-6th place. Following that, Millenium then won an upset over eLevate in the Loser's Bracket. In back-to-back games, the bottom of the "top six" shot up to the top four of Europe.
Splyce then got handed their first loss by Epsilon eSports after a near-perfect run. But Splyce quickly regained their composure and knocked Epsilon eSports to the Loser's Bracket in decisive fashion. The semifinals match say Fnatic and Epsilon eSports square off in a battle of contenders. Fnatic and Epsilon eSports were both hungry to earn the right to knock off Splyce, but it was Epsilon eSports who narrowly won out. The finals were set for a rematch.
Given the nature of Splyce's dominance in past weeks, the Grand Finals seemed to be ripe for another Splyce. However, Epsilon eSports, led by ex-Splyce member Joshua-Lee "Joshh" Sheppard, took down Splyce in the grand finals in back-to-back 3-0 sweeps. It was a stunning victory that made Splyce look amateurish. In a fit of fury, Dylan "MadCat" Daly even quit out of the game seconds before the second Round 3 Uplink closed. Joshh, who had an unremarkable season, suddenly was crowned the best in Europe. Epsilon eSport's David "Dqvee" Davies was a key player in their victory thanks to some absurdly smooth shots. The second series was a visual spectacular as he clutched every single round with some amazing plays. If Dqvee can continue to repeat his Grand Finals performance then he may easily be named the best player in Europe.
While all the teams and groups have been set for Global Pro League, the massive win by Epsilon eSports at CWL Birmingham shows that there are still surprises to come. Before this, Epsilon eSports was considered a strong contender but not a tournament winning team. At Birmingham, they proved everyone wrong.