There have been a number of esports moments that have placed the viewer on the edge of their seats, yelling at the screen either in enjoyment or out of frustration. Here are, in no particular order, the five best moments in esports.
Fnatic Xpeke’s Backdoor vs SK Gaming
Back in 2013, League of Legends was huge. Not quite anywhere near the giant of a game it is today, but it was steadily on track to becoming the most popular game of all time, which was announced merely a year later. One of the biggest things that League of Legends did around 2013 was contribute to the growth of the esports industry. League of Legends and esports go hand in hand, bouncing off of one another and growing exponentially.
The team Fnatic are huge in LoL esports, and were the first team ever to win the World Championship back when League of Legends was still young, playing for $50,000 in 2011. This figure seems like a fair bit of money, but bear in mind that 2015’s World Championship prize pool was twenty times this figure. The mid laner for Fnatic, and one of the most central players, was named Xpeke. He was already a legend in pro LoL, thanks to being on the Championship-winning team, but his popularity was soon to grow tenfold.
In 2013, at the popular Esports event Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, the sneak attack from Fnatic’s Xpeke became the best-known play around the industry. It helped get me and undoubtedly countless others into the game, and is a real display of dexterity and skill from Xpeke and friendship from his team.
Playing on a stage at an event as high-profile as the one at IEM, in front of a huge crowd and not cracking under the pressure is impressive, to say the least. Playing at this level and being able to pull it off is even more impressive, and really separates the pro players from the casual players. This moment was so impressive that even now, three years later, a backdoor against the enemy team on League of Legends will always be called an ‘Xpeke,’ and imitations of it never have that same magic that the very first had.
Daigo’s Comeback vs Justin Wong at Evo 2004
Fighting game tournaments are like esports before they were cool. Before the term ‘esports’ was properly coined and high profile competitions were held, the best players of fighting games like Street Fighter relied on smaller tournaments to show off their skills. One such tournament is called Evo, and has always been the biggest venue for fighting game competitions. Nowadays, there are a plethora of games that make their way to Evo, new and old, but back in 2004, Evo was pretty much only Street Fighter and Tekken, with a few other fighting games in-between.
Evo 2004 was best known for its ‘Moment #37‘, which ended up becoming one of the best known moments in pro-gaming, let alone fighting game, history. The match was Street Fighter III and it was the semi-finals. Justin Wong, one of the most well-known SFIII players at the time, was to face Daigo another extremely well-known player. It was 1-1, meaning the next match would win the game. Daigo was forced onto a mere slither of health, playing as Ken, and Justin Wong, playing as Chun-Li, executed a 22-hit combo super move. Daigo was forced to try and parry the super move, which would require repeatedly countering the attack at almost frame-perfect intervals, in the correct direction. Daigo managed to pull off the parries, and then executed a combo of his own, resulting in his clutch victory of match one. This led to him taking the semi-finals and he could move on to the finals.
This moment of pure skill from Daigo resulted in him going down in Evo history, and ‘Moment #37’ would forever be known as one of the most hype moments in all of esports.
Fnatic Vs AgaiN – CS 1.6
Fnatic makes it to this list for the second time, but this time not for the best of reasons. Fnatic have always been one of the greatest teams when it comes to the extremely skill-based shooter Counter-Strike 1.6, and it’s always a feat when a team managed to bring them down a notch or two. In 2009, Fnatic had swept through the competition, winning every major CS 1.6 tournament. Despite this, Fnatic had never managed to win the World Cyber Games, one of the last games of the year, but this year looked like it could be different.
The 2009 WCG Counter-Strike 1.6 grand finals was between the unstoppable Fnatic and the Polish team AgaiN. If Fnatic were to win, it would be their first ever WCG win, and if AgaiN were to win, they would be the first team in history to win the championships twice, having also won the 2006 WCG cup. It was a best-of-three tournament, meaning the first team to win two maps would take home the cup.
Towards the end of the first map, Fnatic were winning dominantly 15-11, meaning they would need one more point to win the first match, giving them a sizeable advantage over AgaiN. Despite this, AgaiN managed to pull out all the stops, playing exceptionally and clutching four rounds in a row, making the score 15-15 and bringing the map to overtime.
In overtime, both teams play three rounds on each side, and if they are still drawing, overtime will repeat. Fnatic and AgaiN went through overtime FOUR times, with the score coming to 27-26 in favour of AgaiN. Fnatic failed to clutch the round and AgaiN won the first map after an extremely long time playing. Fnatic were left so demoralized that they went on to lose the second map, meaning AgaiN became the first team to win two WCG championships.
Shiz(Falco) Vs Mew2King(Marth) – Super smash bros melee losers bracket finals
Super Smash Bros Melee is a game that requires immense skill and fast reactions to play. Contrary to some of the more recent iterations in the Smash Bros series, Melee is more on the quick side and the best of the best players are so quick that people watching for the first time would likely only see a blur of moves and not be able to make out what is even happening.
You don’t need to have prior knowledge of the game to appreciate this play, though. During the Revival of Melee Losers bracket finals, two players known as Mew2King and DaShizWiz played one of the most memorable games of Melee of all time. M2K was playing as Marth and Shiz was playing as Falco, two extremely fast characters. The match was 4-stock, meaning that both players had four lives and the first to run out of lives would lose. Shiz on Falco had managed to force M2K onto his last stock, whilst he still had three stocks remaining. From some immense feat of skill, and a few mistakes from Shiz, M2K managed to beat Shiz away and won the game.
The reason this Smash Bros play is so well known is both because of the skill employed by the players and the reactions of the casters. Lots of the time the casters make up half the fun of watching the game, and their reaction helped cement this moment as one of the best in esports.
Fnatic JW’s Ace vs Titan – Dreamhack 2014
I mentioned before in this piece that Counter-Strike is one of the most skill-based shooters. This is arguably even more the case with the latest iteration in the series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and it requires immense levels of skill to actually perform at the highest of levels.
And so, Fnatic appears for the third time on this list in probably the greatest play in CS: GO history. That said, CS: GO is still very young in its life-cycle, so we could see more amazing plays in the future.
Fnatic are still dominant in modern Counter-Strike, and the Swedish side have some of the best players to ever grace the esports scene. One such player known as JW has played counter-strike since Fnatics 1.6 days and takes the role of Primary AWPer, making use of a powerful but hard to aim sniper rifle. In an incredible display of skill from JW, he managed to ace the entire enemy team, taking down each and every one of the members practically himself. While that would normally be a feat in itself, the way JW went about getting the final kill towards the ace, which was in a 1 v 1 clutch, was an awe-inspiring play. It requires immense knowledge of the game, and a good degree of luck, to be able to pull off such a play.
By Sammy Cooper