ESL Challenger League Season 45 was an important CS:GO tournament. Despite being just a B-tier event, the fact that its winner earned a spot at ESL Pro League S18 makes it significant.
The team that won the race was Apeks, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone. After all, Apeks finished in the top four at the recent Paris Major, which was a monumental achievement. When you can play at that level and beat the world’s best teams, winning against the likes of ex-Partizan and K23 shouldn’t be a challenge.
However, ESL Challenger League S45 had numerous strong teams that have only recently started to affirm themselves and as a result, do not yet have a spot assured at S-tier tournaments. Among them are Apeks, Sprout, 1win, FORZE Esports, 9INE, Monte, and Movistar Riders.
Apeks’ path to victory
Apeks started the tournament in the upper bracket, with a victory against ex-Partizan. This team did not offer much resistance and Justinias “jL” Lekavicius finished it with a K-D score of 54-26. His performance was absolutely superb.
The next team defeated by Apeks was K23. This match was much harder than expected: 14-16 on Ancient and 10-16 on Overpass. This time, it was Tim “nawwk” Jonasson’s turn to shine. His K-D score was 49-28.
The upper bracket quarterfinals offered Apeks the first formidable opponent: 9INE. After struggling on the second map (5-16) Apeks went on to win the match 2-1. JL was the best player on the server again.
Another victory followed for Apeks, this time against 1win. The score, just as before, was 2-1. The second and third maps were very intense: 19-16 and 13-16. The team did not get carried by one or two players, as it generally happens. Instead, everyone played really well.
In the upper bracket Final, Apeks met their nemesis, Spirit.A (or Team Spirit Academy). The round scores tell the whole story: 16-14 on Inferno, 13-16 on Vertigo, and 16-8 on Overpass. Despite Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad’s best efforts (62-55), his team could not beat the CIS crew.
To get to the Grand Final, Apeks had to defeat Monte and they did, 2-1. This match was the closest of the tournament: 13-16, 16-13, 22-20. It felt like a best-of-five. The battle was won thanks to nawwk’s amazing performance: 96-56.
In the Grand Final, Apeks started from a one-map deficit and went on to win three out of four maps. Once again, nawwk and jL were the carry players.