Five W's: Atlanta FaZe win while T1, Cloud9 and Fnatic qualify for Worlds
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With how wide the esports world is, it’s tough to pin down every marquee matchup and bit of esports news each week. Sometimes, those moments go beyond the competitive sphere and dip into streaming, general gaming and the business world, too. Esports is bigger than just the games we watch every day and the big thing you should take away from each week could pass you by if you’re not careful.

That’s where we come in. Every week, Upcomer’s staff comes together to select the five biggest W’s of the last week, whether they be a player’s performance, a new game release or something else. The goal: to get you caught up on esports news this week and get you ready for everything that comes next.

Here are our Five W’s for the week of Aug. 17 – Aug. 23.

Community asks for VCT Masters 3: Berlin format changes and Riot obliges

Riot Games announced the format for their next international LAN in the VALORANT Championship Tour last Friday and almost immediately came under fire for its poor structure. VCT Masters 3: Berlin was set to hold a GSL group stage with only the top teams from the four-team groups moving on to the playoff stage. The four teams would then face off in a single-elimination bracket.

Fans and professional players alike gave the format a raised eyebrow as this gave teams less games to play and would knock a majority of the competition out after only seven days. It would also give fans less of a chance to see interregional competition as the majority of teams would only face off in their own groups.

But hours after the uproar, Alex Francois, head of competitive operations at VALORANT esports, responded with a statement and a change in the tournament format. The playoff stage is now an eight-team single-elimination bracket with the top two teams from each group qualifying.

The decision was met with praise as pros and community members applauded the developer’s quick turnaround and ear for feedback. The 16-team international LAN begins with its updated format on Sept. 10 with more details surrounding coverage and seeding to come in the following days.

– Declan Mclaughlin

Los Angeles Gladiators clinch first title

The Los Angeles Gladiators triumphed in the Overwatch League’s final tournament cycle of the year, defeating the Chengdu Hunters in a thrilling 4-3 victory to clinch the organization’s first ever title. Initially it looked like the Gladiators would take it easily as they went up 3-1, but the Hunters managed to surge back and win the next two maps. It was the Gladiators’ first playoff appearance all season, and the Hunters’ third.

Both teams played some of the best Overwatch we’ve seen from them all year. The MVP candidates on both sides – Kim “Shu” Jin-seo and Huang “Leave” Xin – both made heroic plays that clinched entire map wins, but every player was exceptional. Everybody came up big for their team in some way throughout the series. In the end, though, it was the Gladiators who managed to come up just a little bigger.

The Gladiators’ biggest problem this season has been holding on to their mentality when things look rough for them. It’s a problem that took them all year to solve, but they finally seem to have cracked it, and they look like a real contender for season champions heading into the postseason.

– Bonnie Qu

Big day for global LoL; T1, Cloud9 and Fnatic qualify for Worlds 2021

Aug. 22 may’ve been one of the most exciting single-days of professional League of Legends to date. Four major regions. Four playoff series. Three game fives. What more could a League fan ask for?

The day opened with T1 qualifying for Worlds for the first time since 2019 after a 3-1 victory against Gen.G. Sure, the series didn’t go to silver scrap, but anytime Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok returns to the international stage is a time to celebrate.

Over in China, WE planted their flag as a legitimate contender for both Worlds and a League of Legends Pro League championship. The scrappy underdogs pulled off a convincing 3-2 upset over EDG to propel themselves into winners’ finals. While they haven’t officially qualified for Worlds yet, WE may have proven themselves as worthy candidates to represent the LPL at the tournament with that performance.

The last two games of the day were like something straight out of a movie. Fnatic against G2 Esports and Cloud9 against TSM for the last remaining Worlds sports for their respective regions. As if the script couldn’t get any juicer, both matches fully delivered on the hype and went to five games. The result was G2 missing Worlds for the first time in its history as an org, and TSM failing to qualify after investing so heavily in their 2021 roster.

Congratulations to T1, Cloud9 and Fnatic for qualifying for Worlds!

– Nick Ray

Moist Esports branches further into Smash by picking up Aaron

Aaron “Aaron” Wilhite has become a member of Moist Esports, an esports organization formed by Charlie “Cr1TiKaL” White Jr. earlier this month. Aaron joined Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan as the organization’s second Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player. The formation of this team has marked a revitalized push into the Smash community by Cr1TiKaL, which initially began last February.

Cr1TiKaL hosted and livestreamed one of Smash Ultimate’s biggest online events, the Soaked Series Invitational, shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. He then partnered with Jacob “Alpharad” Rabon IV to invest money into the Smash scene through an online tournament circuit called the Quarantine Series. However, the circuit fell apart after its sixth event, and Cr1TiKaL’s close involvement with the competitive Smash scene waned.

But now, more than a year later, Cr1TiKal has become a major figure in the Smash community once again by signing Kola and Aaron. In addition, he will co-stream Smash Ultimate Summit 3, where both of his new players will compete in person this weekend. After a successful Summit campaign that included an endorsement from Joe Kelly and over 120,000 votes in the first round, Aaron will now have the moistest man in esports backing him at Summit and other upcoming competitions.

– Dylan Tate

Atlanta FaZe win Call of Duty League Champs to cement their dynasty

A new victor was crowned in the Call of Duty League over the weekend and a dynasty has been born. Atlanta FaZe cemented their place in Call of Duty League lore with their win over the Toronto Ultra at CDL Champs. It was a thrilling grand final between the two juggernaut squads, as several maps and moments will be remembered for years to come.

It’s the culmination of a dominant year for FaZe. They won three other Majors this season but many fans were hesitant to call them a dynasty without that elusive Champs win. They blew their chance in the grand final last season against Dallas Empire but MVP Chris “Simp” Lehr and company weren’t going to let that happen again.

Tyler “aBeZy” Pharris took home the CDL Playoffs MVP but an argument could be made for each Atlanta player. At different times, all members of the roster stepped up and led the squad to map wins. It was truly a team effort and that effort rewards FaZe with their first ever Call of Duty championship.

– Joey Carr