Last month saw the return of EPIC.LAN, one of the UK’s most prominent and storied tournaments alongside Insomnia. EPIC is one of the few real chances UK players have to get LAN experience and despite the relatively small prize pool of £3,000 (for today’s standards), it is an important part of the scenes infrastructure. The tournament was skipped by the very top UK teams, Into The Breach and 1PIN. However, both teams had players attend as part of dangerous mixes, on top of this formidable teams such as BLVKHVND and Temperate made their way to the Kettering conference hall to fight it out in the three-day event. The tournament would be defined by stand-out individual performances and surprising upsets, here’s a recap of the weekend’s action.
EPIC36 kicked off in Kettering with a bang, as one of the pre-tournament favourites and title hopefuls BLVKHVND fell in their opening group match against 24.8 AVG. The team, led by Sash “sashAFP” Fomin, managed to overcome the groups top seed in a closely fought game on Nuke, with the future Inters winners taking the shock win 16-12. This is not the first time sashAFP has caused a group stage upset against a big hitter, at EPIC35 sash’s Legates Tyrian team managed to hold future winners DUSTY to a 15-15 tie. BLVKHVND recovered from this loss to still finish top of their group. However, this would not be the case for their fellow pot one teams and these results ended up setting up some spicy quarter-final matchups.
Both Temperate (formerly TLR) and emps kid’s dropped maps and subsequently finished second in their respective groups. Temperate lost out to Tom Fatal on round differential after losing to Milkmen academy in their final group match. Whilst emps kid’s second place finish meant that in their quarter-final they would come up against BLVKHVND, a match-up many considered to be final worthy going into the tournament.
The two title contenders battled it out on Mirage and then Inferno, with emps kid’s coming out on top 16-11,16-13. The premature heavyweight fight meant BLVKHVND were sent into the lower bracket and would need to win five matches in order to give themselves a spot in the grand final. The final pot one team in attendance were the scambit mix, they were unable to avoid the pot one curse and whilst the other favourites recovered, scambit failed to do so. A shock loss to Nutty Dudes, a mix featuring Felix “Inf1nate-m” Kenney as an emergency sub and a 4-16 battering at the hands of B-list Love Island left them third in their group sending them straight out the lower bracket.
These results left the bottom half of the upper bracket stacked with three of the pre-tournament favourites in that half, it guaranteed that two of the favourites would have to meet in the lower bracket facing tournament elimination. Meanwhile, it left the top half of the bracket open for the taking and it would kick off with an absolute cracker of a match between Tom Fatal and Nutty Dudes. Tom Fatal’s line-up included talent such as 1PIN star Andrew “Wolfie” Allan, who finished the event with a monster 1.47 rating (second highest at the event) and former UMX player Oliver “Maza” Mazarelo. A battle of attrition and focus would be played out over 104 rounds of gripping of Counter-Strike.
After a close 16-10 on map one Nutty dudes were left fighting for their upper bracket run on Mirage, a map that included an early 1v3 clutch from Inf1nate-m. Nutty Dudes were in pole position to take the match to a decider at 15-14 but after losing the final round of regulation both teams mental strength was tested as the map stretched to four OT’s. With Tom Fatal taking the round advantage at 26-25 it was left to former BLVKHVND rifler Rhys “Rhys” Stumbles to clutch out in another 1v3, and after a quick mid-clutch stretch Rhys levelled the scoreline and Nutty Dudes went on to win out 28-26. Unfortunately for Nutty Dudes the Mirage win seemed to have sapped a lot of energy out of the mix team that had already overachieved, and the final map ended up being an anti-climatic 16-8 win for Wolfie’s mix.
The marathon match was a spectacle that overshadowed the team that Tom Fatal would meet in the Upper bracket Semi-final. AVA.mix had been quietly going about their business, after unconvincingly scraping into the upper-bracket draw on head-to-head over Genet.exe by winning their quarter-final 2-0 with relative ease over Imported Dingleberries. The team, powered by one of the UK’s brightest talents in 1PIN’s Oscar “AZUWU” Bell, would also triumph in their Semi-final meeting with Tom Fatal. It is fair to say that AVA.mix were the surprise of the tournament, as they were not in many people’s predictions for the top four. Despite low expectations and a tough group stage they found themselves in the Upper Bracket final against one of the pre-tournament favourites emp’s kids.
emps kid’s had a fairly easy run in their half of the Upper Bracket after their close 2-0 win over BLVKHVND, they showed Temperate who was boss in a swift sweeping victory. Straight off the bat AVA.mix were able to take map one of the Upper Bracket match-up, suggesting that they were about to cause another upset, but ITB star Cai “CYPHER” Watson and the in-form Jack “JackB” Burton helped emps kid’s to roll the final two maps in the series.
BLVKHVND successfully recovered from being knocked down to the Lower bracket and with the thirst for revenge they ran the lower gauntlet without dropping a map, setting up a lower consolidation final against Temperate. Some would have had this as their grand final pre-tournament, the only two high level “proper” teams in attendance, but with the individuals in the mixes running hot it forced their meeting into a lower bracket elimination match. The match didn’t disappoint with two extremely close maps. The first being BLVKHVND’s pick of vertigo, at 13-9 and having forced BLVKHVND into a weak force-buy Temperate looked to be within reaching distance of the win. However, after just 50 seconds gone in the round Beau “fluFFs” Newton was left in a 1v4 and after failing to clutch it out Temperate crumbled and gave away the advantage to BLVKHVND. With momentum behind them, BLVKHVND closed out the map 16-14.
Moving onto Temperate pick of Nuke it was obvious it would be another closely fought game and it was Temperate’s time to make a mini comeback and force OT, it would ultimately end up in disappointment for the team with a 19-16 loss. BLVKHVND’s leader Fraser “frazehh” Sollom stepped up in the most important match of the tournament so far for his team with a mammoth 1.49 rating across the match.
The win left frazehh’s team just needing to beat the tournament’s wildcard AVA.mix to force a rematch with emps kid’s in the grand final. Richard “Zulu” Wood took over from where frazehh left off and followed up his captain’s 1.49 rating with a dominant 1.48 against the AVA team. AVA.mix put up a fight on Dust2 and a big map one performance from usual star AZUWU and Mohammed “Mophoria” Abbas suggested we were in for another must watch match. The underdogs struggled on their pick of overpass though and their challenge for the grand final spot petered out with a 6-16 loss to put a disappointing end on what had been an otherwise positive run. Despite the loss, AVA.mix should not be disheartened after putting themselves on everybody’s radar with a well deserved third place finish.
BLVCKHVND’s triumph in the lower final set up a tantalising rematch with emps kid’s. Coming into it you could argue that both teams had just as much riding on the result. For BLVKHVND anything other than a win in the rematch would not only leave a bitter taste in their mouth but would dent their run of good results with a loss to a mix, in a LAN that they expected themselves to win.
For emps kid’s, whilst maybe there wasn’t the pressure of attending as a team, they had some storylines of their own; Rory “cryths” Ursell wanted to retain his status as EPIC champion and after being dropped by DUSTY following their EPIC35 win there’s no doubt he wanted to prove that he could do it without them. Even more poignantly, it was potentially (you can never say never in esports) Josh “Yoshwa” Ryley’s last LAN as a new job has led to his retirement from competitive Counter-strike. What better way to sign off than with a LAN win with a mix of friends. emps kid’s got off to a flying start on Vertigo, putting themselves in a 8-2 lead on the stronger CT side but BLVKHVND pulled it all the way back to a 8-7 half. However, after switching sides CYPHER and JackB powered the mix to a 16-11 win, posting 1.64 and 1.56 ratings respectively.
BLVKHVND stormed to a 10-3 lead on Dust2 and looked like they would likely force a decider map but CYPHER once again put up some massive numbers to embark on a eleven round win streak to setup a 14-10 scoreline and put emps kid’s two rounds away from lifting the trophy. frazehh once again stood tall for his side, posting 30 kills, to try and keep his BLVKHVND squad in the game. After forcing overtime there was a feeling the momentum might have shifted towards the team, who had members form the org sat behind them watching.
In what had been a tournament defined by clutch moments and big individual performances; it is fitting that it was in the star power and aggressive calling of 19 year-old CYPHER that found emps kid’s the four rounds needed to win out the map and the tournament. After the smoke cleared the top four was as follows; 1st emps kid’s, 2nd BLVKHVND, 3rd AVA.mix and 4th Temperate.
It will come to no surprise that CYPHER has not only been crowned EPIC’s MVP of the final but also our MVP for the tournament. Boasting the third highest overall rating (1.44), the highest RWS (15.82) and the highest ADR (102).The stats support the eye test in the crowning of the ITB rifler as tournament MVP. In contrast, fellow champion and emps kid’s AWPer JackB’s stats don’t tell the full story of how hot he was running during the tournament. He was especially dangerous in the Upper bracket final and the grand final, arguably the two most important matches of the tournament. He was unplayable for matches at a time, including a monstrous 2.10 performance on Dust2 against AVA.mix.
There are some honourable mentions for MVP as the two highest rated players at the event came from two mixes in the form of Tom Fatal’s Wolfie (1.467) and Milk Men Academy player wfn (1.469). Other interesting stats come in the form of Nutty Dudes players Rhys and Inf1nate-m posting 52.9% and 50% clutch success rate from 17 and 14 attempts, respectively. These were the only two players with 50%+ win rate from double digit attempts, with the next most being 50% from 6 are significant drop off in attempts. Unsurprisingly BLVKHVND played the most number of rounds, with their lower bracket run accumulating them a total of 448 rounds played, nearly 100 more than the next closest in Temperate.
Looking ahead, the next LAN tournament for the UK scene is going to be Insomnia 69 (26th-29th August) at the NEC in Birmingham, where UK teams will once again attempt to prove their worth against some of the best domestic competition. You can be sure that UKCSGO will be there to provide the best coverage possible.
Some of the stats used in this article were calculated by @Mischief_CSGO