No events

G2 Esports Completes Fairytale Run at IEM Dallas with Stewie2k

Zakaria Almughrabi

The G2 Esports storyline at IEM Dallas has gotten its storybook ending. They’ve been crowned champions after their intense 2-1 victory over Team Vitality in the Grand Finals. Not one person, likely not even G2 themselves, ever thought that they would be lifting that trophy due to the surrounding circumstances. Yet, we were just treated to the best Grand Finals in CS2’s short history, with G2 standing tall after the smoke cleared.

G2 Esports IEM Dallas Stewie2k

Image Copyright: Stephanie Lindgren, ESL FACEIT Group

Setting the Stage

With CS2 titans like MOUZ, FaZe Clan, and Team Vitality all in attendance at IEM Dallas, G2 Esports was already on the outside looking in for championship contention. And when their IGL Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen couldn’t make it to Dallas, their odds got even lower. G2 needed an emergency substitute, one who was already in North America.

G2 chose Jake “Stewie2k” Yip. As far as North American Counter-Strike goes, Stewie is basically royalty. As a member of NA’s only Major winning roster, his name was guaranteed to draw in cheers and support from the local crowd. The question was if it would also bring success in the server. It had been over two years since Stewie2k last stood on a tier-one stage, and the washed allegations were very far along.

Additionally, with HooXi missing, G2 needed someone to call the shots for the team. They gave the privilege to Nikola “NiKo” Kovač. NiKo had tried IGL’ing his teams before with little success. Not only was he not up to the level of a top-tier IGL, but his individual play also suffered. Regardless, G2 had to put something together, which was their answer.

Throughout the course of IEM Dallas, G2 Esports faced trial after trial. They got knocked down hard in their Group Stage round two matchup against Vitality, then had the misfortune of meeting CS2’s number one team in an elimination match. But G2 instead of MOUZ came out the other end of a tight three-map series.

G2 then faced off against the only team with more NA than them, Team Liquid, for the final spot in the Playoffs. They won that one in three as well, making it to the big stage despite all of the complications.

Never Say Die

G2 had been fighting against expectations the entire way, and that wouldn’t stop in the IEM Dallas Playoffs. “Surely, FaZe Clan will be the end of this dream,“ everyone said. Yet the dream kept going. G2 absolutely crushed FaZe with an avalanche 13-2 on Nuke to close it out 2-0. All of a sudden, this dream looked closer to reality than ever.

Next was the only team more surprising than G2 in Groups, 9z. The South American squad may have impressed earlier, but they were spring chickens on a stage like this. G2 exploited that in the server, winning the clutch rounds to keep themselves ahead of the curve. Though this one was closer, G2 managed another 2-0 sweep. All of a sudden, G2, IGL NiKo, and Stewie2k were in the IEM Dallas Grand Finals.

Of course, this wild ride needed an appropriate final boss. On their way here, G2 played every one of CS2’s top three ranked teams. They would need to take down the only one that beat them, Team Vitality.

Vitality absolutely mopped the floor with G2 in the Group Stage, and Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut just got done making his claim for the world’s best player in the semifinals against Team Spirit. It would be a huge uphill battle for G2, but when had that stopped them before? By this point, they were along for the ride as much as we were.

Grand Finals Under Way

Map one was G2’s pick of Inferno. NiKo and Stewie2k have some…history on this map (see Boston Major), so it’s only appropriate that it would become G2’s go-to over the course of IEM Dallas. Early on, NiKo demonstrated that despite being the IGL right now, his blades hadn’t dulled one bit.

G2’s T side went very well, earning them a 7-5 lead. Of course, Vitality was no pushover. They equalized the pistol rounds and gained an economic advantage early. G2 risked buying up in multiple rounds with little success. Things kept snowballing, and all of a sudden, their 7-5 lead turned into an 8-11 deficit. G2 needed a nearly flawless end to their defense.

With some great aim and composure, G2 managed to scrape the game into overtime. However, disaster struck when they lost every round on the CT side, giving Vitality three map points. Backs against the wall on their map, NiKo called a masterclass offense under the most pressure possible. G2 won five T rounds straight, including one of the best 2v3s you’ll ever see.

Vitality was burnt and couldn’t match G2’s surge. After two clean retakes on the CT side, G2 locked in map one 19-16.

It Wouldn’t Be Easy

Vitality’s Anubis was up next. On paper, this should have been a quick and easy equalizer for Vitality. They flattened G2 13-5 on the map in the Group Stage and clearly had more drilling on the map than a team with a surprise IGL swap. Things looked to be going the expected way for once as Vitality took the half 7-5, then reached map point with five straight T rounds.

G2 was down 12-5. They just suffered a crushing 1v3 loss. They were on Anubis’s less-favored side, a map their opponents prepared especially for them. All logic and reasoning said that this one was done. Yet, this G2 was never about logic or reason. They were about magic.

G2 took one round, then another. Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov hits this impossible smoked AWP no-scope across the map. Another round. Nemanja “nexa” Isaković pushes through the smoke on Vitality’s A exec and gets three. Another round. Where did that deficit go? It’s 12-11. NiKo just took two with him defending the A site. It’s overtime.

This comeback was pure theatrics. On the one hand, it feels only fitting that Vitality had a deeper strat book for extra innings. They very convincingly won overtime 16-13 to tie the series and force map three. On the other hand, what a magical ending it would have been if G2 won the trophy right then and there.

The Power of Fun

By this point, we had two maps and three overtimes. Anyone would be gassed playing for that long under the bright lights and intense pressure of an IEM Grand Final. Vitality was supposed to be the heavy favorite in the matchup. They just won their equalizing map and denied G2 a historic comeback, yet it felt like G2 were the ones who were playing with impunity.

Maybe it was the crowd cheering for every G2 kill or passionately chanting “F*** YOU APEX” at Vitality’s IGL whenever he riled them up. Perhaps it was the energy that a Stewie2k in the middle of his career revitalization brought to a team that so often got in their heads. It could even have just been good old-fashioned destiny.

Map three of Nuke got underway. G2 took the pistol round and cleaned up Vitality’s low buys with no issue. In the first gun round, things looked amazing for G2. They had a 3v1 against William “mezii” Merriman on the A site. Instead, mezii won every fight he was presented with.

This momentum shift brought Vitality into the lead. With the first half dwindling, a critical swing round came down to a 1v1. ZywOo versus m0NESY exploded on the Nuke A site. There, ZywOo did something he doesn’t do often: miss.

With 31 HP and four bullets in his AK-47, m0NESY took the bomb B and took down ZywOo to win the round. The score at the half was tied 6-6.

The Script is Complete

It seemed like 1v1 was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Vitality. Thanks to some critical rounds that barely fell in their favor, they had been hanging on in the first half, but they were getting none of that now.

NiKo was calling a fantastic defense while playing his Outside position flawlessly. His cousin Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač was playing his most impactful game in a while, likely ever since CS2 came out. And don’t even get us started on m0NESY. What kind of raw mechanical prowess does it take for an AWPer to hit this perfect 2k blind spray down across the entirety of Nuke through the smoke at a moment’s notice?

In the end, Vitality had no answer. G2’s improbable run had made it to completion. A 13-8 finish on Nuke crowned them champions of IEM Dallas.

There’s just something about Stewie2k that cannot be explained. He’s now been at the center of arguably the two biggest and best underdog runs in Counter-Strike history. One came to its head against NiKo, and now one alongside him. There’s something poetic, almost karmic about that.

For today, G2 are the protagonists. NiKo has redeemed himself as an in-game leader. M0NESY is indisputably the best player in the whole world. HuNter- has shown that he can cut it in CS2 after months of criticism. Nexa gets to lift the first trophy of his whole career. And Stewie2k again becomes North America’s hero on home soil. You couldn’t write a better story than this if you tried.