Every fan who watches CS:GO understands that there are places or situations that a player naturally thrives. You have Dennis “dennis” Edman in pistol rounds, Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip playing around smokes, spots named after a player like NBK or GeT_RiGhT, or even a gun like Nikola “NiKo” Kovac and his deagle. It signifies a level of excellence, a holy space in which a player has been acknowledged by his peers that their incredible level of play has trademarked that spot, that situation, that gun. Right now there is no holier ground than the rounds from 26-30. It doesn’t matter what side, it doesn’t matter what map, it doesn’t matter what opponent, the only thing that matters is that when you get to these rounds you enter the sacred grounds of SK. It is here that SK have made themselves the strongest team in the world for the past year. As the tournament reaches it’s finale, as we get closer to the end of the map, as we come to the closing rounds, as we get to the final seconds of a round. That is where we see SK holy ground, that area where they ascend to a higher plane and become the clutchest team in the world.
The clock ticks as there are 25 seconds left
It is the fourth round of overtime on the 3rd map of the BLAST Finals. SK battle Astralis for the trophy. SK are on the T-side, they let the clock drain down to the last 30 seconds. It takes three seconds to plant the bomb. They must get a man on site planting in 26 seconds. SK dash over and set up their smokes as the clock hits 25 seconds. They let the nades fly.
It wasn’t always like this. The Brazilian squad that eventually became world champions weren’t born clutch, they were molded into it. Throughout 2015, the Luminosity line-up consisted of: Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, Marcelo “Coldzera” David, Lucas “steel” Lopes, and Ricardo “boltz” Prass. It was a strong line-up, one that consistently got upset wins at international LANs, but could not win bo3 series against the top teams. Right before Faceit Stage 3 Finals, they made a radical shift as they recruited Lincoln “fnx” Lau, and Epitacio “TACO” de Melo in place of boltz and steel.
Tick, 17 seconds
Coldzera gets info at checkers and middle to cut off rotates or prepare to split the A site. In the 16th second he peeks again and realizes Peter “Dupreeh” Rothmann is behind the box at checkers. Dupreeh knows Coldzera is there too.
Luminosity’s first even with fnx and TACO was a resounding success. They made it to the finals of Faceit Stage 3 LAN finals 2015. In the first finals, they lost to Fnatic. It was the iteration that won six tournaments in a row with dennis on the line-up. It was the most dominant team of the time and their closest rivals were TSM/Astralis towards the end of 2015 and Na`Vi/Luminosity in the beginning of 2016. But no matter how many times Na`Vi or Luminosity faced Fnatic in the finals, Fnatic won.
Tick, 15 seconds
boltz gets the first kill on site.
For Luminosity, both Na`Vi and Fnatic were the last mountains to climb to get to the top. Na`Vi were similar in structure to Luminosity, especially their T-side approach. Both teams loved to run the clock down to the very last moments of the round before executing onto the site. So when they inevitably played Na`Vi, they were incredible matches, but they swayed into Na`Vi’s favor. In the finals of DreamHack Leipzig, SK lost an incredible series 0-2 in two overtime games. Against Fnatic they were beaten at the IEM World Championship 2015 0-3, but two of the three maps were incredibly close. On Overpass, they lost a 12-3 lead as Fnatic made an incredible comeback and then lost the third in another overtime series.
Tick, 14 seconds
Dennis throws a flashbang that stalls out the push as it flashes boltz and FalleN who were at A main. This lets Andreas “xyp9x” Hojsleth get into a better position near quad.
What was critical about these series was that Luminosity did not choke in those finals. They just weren’t good enough. Both Na`Vi and Fnatic outplayed them. Fnatic’s entire M.O. at the time was to pull crazy heroic plays to make a seemingly impossible comeback in the most important situations. This was the era that the first world class Brazilian squad reached the top in and it changed them. This was a team that could have never been satisfied with being just another top team. They needed more, wanted more. As many other teams did, they looked to the best team in the world to gain inspiration. The problem was that the best team in the world was Fnatic. Fnatic’s greatest strength was in hero plays, it was in composure, and it was in playing bravely under the highest pressure situations.
Tick, 13 seconds
Dupreeh tries to break out from the back of checkers, but is killed by Coldzera. Coldzera rotates to A site.
Composure, hero plays, being clutch, those are attributes that you can’t just emulate, it had to come from within. It did as at the MLG Columbus Major, we saw the first glimpse of the spirit of SK, the one we know today. At that Major, Liquid played SK in the semifinals of the event and it took a miracle play from Coldzera with a jumping AWP shot to stop Liquid’s momentum. From there the entire team rallied for a comeback to take Mirage from the Liquid side and then did the same again in the second map.
Tick, 9 seconds
The aftereffects of Dennis’ flash has ended. SK prep to go in.
That clutch, that ability to play under pressure was forged then. But it became magnified as the core of Luminosity played together: Coldzera, TACO, fer, and FalleN. The four of them have been baptized in the line of fire. They have constantly been forced into finals and important games that went to the final rounds of regulation. Each time it got close, the players rose to the occasion. From line-up to line-up this ability to win under the clutch has only increased.
Tick, 8 seconds
Coldzera pushes towards mid to pinch the site, but gets flanked and killed by Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander.
At ELeague Major 2016, it was the 30th round against FaZe in the group stages. Throughout the map, TACO had been having a weak performance. But at the very last legs of the match, he rose to the occasion. SK called an A execute and SK crashed into the site. The tactic broke down and soon chaos reigned as FaZe dealt with SK’s execute only for TACO to trade two kills. It ended in a 1v1 where TACO won the clutch against Karrigan to send the game into overtime where SK eventually won the game.
Tick, 7 seconds
Xyp9x frags both TACO and fer as they come out of squeaky. Dennis is killed by FalleN’s AWP.
In ESL New York 2017, SK were playing Liquid in the last round of the first overtime. SK were able to break into the site and plant, but it left Coldzera with an AWP in a 1v2 situation against Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablownowski. Cold was low on health, one bullet could do him in. Despite the pressure, Coldzera stayed calm as he peaked toward truck lane. EliGE baited out a shot with a jumping shoulder peak and Nitr0 immediately tried to take advantage. Coldzera read the movement as he dodged out of his hail of bullets and then took him out with the second shot. EliGE in turn tried to capitalize and again Coldzera dodged out of his way and then repeaked with the AWP to win the round and send SK to a second overtime.
Tick, 6 seconds left
Xyp9x has one bullet left and goes behind quad to reload.
In the finals of ESL Proleague Season 6, the series went to overtime between SK and FaZe on train. In the fifth round of overtime on the T-side, fer aggressively pushed down train to secure the postplant with 2 kills to get the team in position to win the entire thing.
Tick, 5 seconds left
Xyp9x finishes reloading. FalleN and boltz try to clear as much of the bombsite as they safely can for FalleN to plant.
It is IEM Katowice 2016. It is the 26th round on Overpass between LG and Na`Vi. Everyone else on LG has been taken out and they start discussing what to do the next round. FalleN tells them to be quiet and they and the fans watch as FalleN maneuvers around the map and the pulls out an impossible clutch to win the round.
Tick, 4 seconds left
FalleN plants and xyp9x peaks out to stop him. Boltz gets read to defend. Xyp9x only needs one kill on either player to win this round.
In the EPICENTER finals, SK faced off against Virtus.Pro. It is round 37 with 15 seconds remaining on the clock. This is Boltz’s first tournament back after rejoining the Brazilian squad. The SK team decide to go A but with so little time remaining, someone has to find the kills right now for a chance to plant. Boltz does just that as he clears out the A site with two kills to ensure their victory.
Tick, 3 seconds left
Xyp9x sprays down and gets bullets into boltz. Boltz gets a headshot to win the duel.
This is SK’s element. Their ability to run the clock down only adds the to immense amount of pressure, pressure that should be felt by both teams. But it is here, in this domain that SK reign supreme. They do not always win, but they make damn sure that the other team must fight to an even higher level to take them down.
Tick, 1 second left
The words “The Bomb has been planted.” ring out. The game is all but over and as the round ends, SK raise up another trophy in the Royal Arena of Copenhagen and the world is witness once again to the victory of SK.
This is the sacred ground of SK. When the game closes to regulation, when the seconds drain out, when everything comes down to this moment. This is where SK make their mark and show the world why they are the clutchest team in the world.
Photo Credits: Daniel Ranki