ESL Challenger Day 2 Recap: Crowd-darlings Grayhound, Vertex end DreamHack runs a day early

The action resumes tomorrow bright and early at Rod Laver Arena.

Hometown heroes Grayhound and Vertex fought valiantly in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena, but both will be watching the ESL Challenger Melbourne playoffs from the stands following their dual elimination today.

With neither team putting a win on the board in their openers yesterday they were forced into an all-Aussie eliminator to begin day two.

There, Grayhound dominated an otherwise hapless Vertex 2-0 (16-3, 16-5) behind a nuclear performance from star AWPer Alistair “aliStair” Johnston.

The 24 year old sniper put on a show for the Melbourne crowd, going 39-16 across the very short two-mapper.

The result wasn’t so important for Vertex anyway; to them, the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd was an accomplishment itself.

Grayhound proceeded to the Group B elimination series, where they met their match in an Imperial side hungry to join fellow Brazilians paiN Gaming in the playoffs.

Unfortunately for the ‘Hounds, they couldn’t convert their Vertex victory into a playoffs appearance, as Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and co. knocked the Aussies out 2-0 (16-8, 16-12).

“The Boys” began well on Inferno all but splitting the half at 7-8, but the Brazilians turned up the heat on offence, keeping the Aussies to a single round, with livewire aliStair kept to just four kills across the map.

Starting CT on Nuke, Grayhound wrestled back a slow start through captain Joshua “INS” Potter (24-23, 1.11 rating) to enter the second half down by one.

But once again Imperial found another gear, and led by Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo (27-16, 1.54 rating), held off a final advance from the ‘Hounds to book a date with Entropiq in tomorrow’s semi final.

Like Vertex, the ‘Hounds were over the moon to compete on stage in front of the Melbourne audience, and with the Wolfpack will make a return to a (smaller) stage at Fortress for BLAST OCE Masters next week.

Wings Up defeat OG in upset of the year

Entering day two, it was inconceivable that Chinese squad Wings Up could make DreamHack finals.

Sure, they were admirable in their opening best-of-one against OG, and certainly surprised pundits in their dispatch of North American hopes EG.PA.

But OG again in a best-of-three? Not a chance.

So when Wings Up walked out of the arena winners 2-0 (16-13, 16-13), fans sat in a combination of stunned silence and total acceptance of an underdog realising their dreams.

Wings Up were simply sublime on Inferno, with Junhao ‘ChildKing’ Peng (26-19, 1.28 rating) and Zhengjie ‘Martin’ Zhuo (20-16, 1.20 rating) combining to put OG on notice.

Ancient has proven a boon for OG, who were flawless on the map against the likes of Complexity, Astralis and Major champs FaZe Clan at BLAST Fall Groups last fortnight.

But they had little answer for Yi ‘gas’ Ding (25-17, 1.34 rating), with he and the Wings Up squad calmly and coolly dismantling the OG defence to sweep the European squad.

Wings Up take on a similarly aggressive opponent in tomorrow’s opening semi-final at 9am AEST — keep up to date with all things ESL Challenger Melbourne via our ultimate coverage hub.

Nicholas Taifalos
Nicholas Taifalos
Nicholas "Taffy" Taifalos got his start publishing the escapades of some of Australia's pioneers in Counter-Strike and Dota overseas. Now, he turns his eye to events closer to home, from grassroots projects to the height of Oceanic competition and everything in-between. He still hopes for the day Dota makes a glorious return to the pinnacle of OCE esports.



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