The Gfinity Elite Series Season 3 championship will go to one of two teams who have stormed through the first two rounds of the postseason.
Yes indeed, Nordavind hasn’t dropped a game, and they’ve only lost two rounds total. Fnatic, meanwhile, has allowed two games, both coming in the semifinal round last week. They’ve hit their stride.
There are a few things to look out for as the title bout takes place, which I’ll point out here:
— Who will be the MVP?
It is likely the MVP comes down to three players. Obviously winning the title will be the deciding factor to start.
There’s a chance for Phenom to finish Season 3 perfect. He went 5-0 in games in the regular season (and didn’t drop a round!) and won his three appearances in the postseason.
In the 18 rounds he’s played combined regular season and postseason, he’s dropped just two and had to comeback late in two others. He’s 14-for-14 with a late-round lead. When it matters, he has delivered, and he would be a solid pick for MVP if he plays this way in the finals.
Then there’s Momi, who is one of two players to get 7 wins in the regular season, going 7-1. His win total in the regular season was second. He also has the second best late-round closeout rate at .923 (minimum 5 rounds with a late lead), only Phenom’s perfect run is better.
On the other side is Fnatic’s Akainu, who has come alive in the postseason.
The regular season wasn’t his best of the three he’s played, with a 4-4 record in games. However, he has turned it on in the postseason, going 3-0 and not dropping a round.
He’s 4-for-4 with a late-round lead. Playing like this on Saturday will be crucial to Fnatic’s chances of winning. Sometimes it’s about getting hot at the right time, and Akainu is doing just that.
— Which team cracks late?
The numbers look fairly even, but where the title could be decided is likely when Nordavind grabs a late lead in a round. They haven’t dropped a late lead in the postseason, entering Saturday a perfect 15-for-15.
Fnatic, however has a .389 late-round comeback rate this postseason. They have 7 late-round comebacks in their 18 rounds won.
It might take one comeback by Fnatic to test how well water holds in Nordavind’s ship. If they can’t get it, the championship match might be a quick one.
Then again, Fnatic can’t rely on falling behind late all the time and then winning. It’s not the best-tasting recipe, no matter how well that late-round comeback rate looks. We’ve seen it with the Capcom Pro Tour, where players who have a fantastic comeback rate fall victim in high pressure matches.
— The key player might be Shakz
Shakz was a part of the Season 2 playoffs, and he went 0-2. Four rounds played, four rounds lost. One blown lead. Nothing went well then.
He has turned it round in this current postseason, going 2-1. While he has two late-round blown leads, he also has two late-round comebacks.
The focus will likely be on everyone else as the match progresses. It’s justified. However, do not be surprised if Shakz comes up in the spot where everything is on the line. He does have a win against a Cammy in the postseason, that game being the fastest of the one’s he’s played.
— Who gets Game 4 and Game 7?
The player assigned to Games 4 and 7 doesn’t have to be the same. However, in case the match gets away in the first trip through the lineup, the teams need to have the steady hand ready to guide things back their way in Game 4. And if Game 7 is needed, then it’s about putting the best player on the team out there to win the big one.
Early in the season, I was on the Momi bandwagon, believing he should get every Game 4 and 7 until opponents figured him out. Then Phenom came around and picked up wins.
But how about Salty Kid getting Game 4? If Akainu gets Game 4 for Fnatic (more on that in a moment), he’d face someone who has a win against him in the Elite Series (Salty Kid 1-0 in Season 2).
The overall Season 3 body of work might not scream “Salty Kid Game 4!” Perhaps, that R Mika might be enough to get Nordavind a crucial win if he goes Games 3 and 4 where he just rolls with whatever is happening.
Nordavind will likely go Phenom for Game 7. Tough to say no to an unbeaten.
As for Fnatic, the 99 percent decision has to be Akainu for Games 4 and 7, right? Game 7, sure. Let me make the case for Zera for Game 4, who is a combined 5-1 in the regular season and postseason.
In the postseason, he is 4-for-4 with a late-round lead. He’s also playing 3 seconds faster than what he did in the regular season, and the numbers have shown that players who play at a faster pace as a season progresses tend to pick up more wins. That would bode well for Fnatic, especially if Nordavind puts them in a hole early. If Zera gets a win to start the second go round, and Shakz comes up with a power play, suddenly it’s Fnatic closer to the mountaintop.