posted by Olucaron,
This weekend saw the final places for ESL One Hamburg 2018 decided in a series of qualifiers across four regions. Now we know which teams will compete in the Barclaycard Arena — with the exception of China’s qualifier, after a late competitive ruling means a replay is on the cards.

Rule change leads to China infringement

In the China qualifier, things had looked done and dusted. Team Aster had breezed through to the Grand Finals after 2-0 wins over both Keen Gaming and Newbee, and faced off against the latter — who had made it through losers’ side by defeating Team Serenity twice — for a place in Hamburg.

As the winners’ side team, they took a 1-0 automatic lead — and despite losing the first game, they closed out the series 3-1 to seemingly book their tickets to the ESL event.

However, a competitive ruling from ESL Asia late last night meant that things weren’t as straightforward as it seemed. According to a post on Chinese social network Weibo, Team Aster were being punished for ‘changing a player’ — with a Reddit post revealing that Lin 'Xxs' Jing and Lu 'Fenrir' Chao had physically switched computers to play their roles.

A rule change from Valve meant that this was prohibited, leading ESL to order a rematch starting at Game 4 in the series — to take place on October 5. This means we will have to wait to see who qualifies from China and becomes the final team to make it to Hamburg.

Europe sees Alliance continue impressive form

Things were much more straightforward in Europe, as Swedish outfit Alliance made the cut. They took down Espada (twice) and Team Spirit to seal their spot, dropping just one game out of the eight they played.

Spirit had previously overcome Winstrike to make the Winners’ Finals, while Espada took down both Winstrike and Spirit in a gutsy Losers’ Bracket run to give them hope. However, Major qualifiers Alliance just proved too strong, sending out a warning to the rest of Europe of their early-season form.

compLexity’s resurgence continues with NA win

Over in North America, it was Jacky 'EternaLEnVy' Mao who led his side to the qualifying spot with an impressive run. compLexity Gaming didn’t drop a single game before the Grand Finals, recording wins over Starluck and the newly rebranded J.Storm.

On the other side of the draw, test 123 suffered a crushing opening loss to J.Storm. They then defeated Starluck before exacting their revenge over March’s side in the Losers’ Finals.

The Grand Final itself was a stormer of a 5-game series. Starting with an automatic 1-0 lead, compLexity took the first game in just over half an hour to leave them at match-point. However, paiN X came roaring back, taking the next two to force a decider — which Linus 'Limmp' Blomdin dictated in a perfect-KDA performance to send his side to Germany.

Predator hungry for SEA prey

TNC Predator were just too strong for their rivals in SEA as they booked their tickets to Hamburg. The new line-up, featuring Michael 'ninjaboogie' Ross and Kim Villafuerte 'Gabbi' Santos, breezed their way through the entire qualifier undefeated. Rapid 2-0 wins — the longest game clocked in at 32 minutes, the quickest at just 20:16 — over Tigers and EVOS Esports took them to the Grand Finals.

It was EVOS who had the chance to avenge their loss, after defeating Tigers 2-0 in the Losers’ Final. However, it was TNC who looked ruthless, pairing their default 1-0 advantage with another straightforward win in Game 2 — a half hour match in which TNC recorded 40 kills for just 7 deaths.

The final game was much closer, a 40:26 battle in which EVOS overcame a deficit to lead by 5k at one point, but with a three-kill advantage out of 90 total it was TNC who came through.

A stacked Main Event awaits

The three teams will now move on to the Group Stage at ESL One Hamburg proper, joining the eight direct invites:, Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, Mineski, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Forward Gaming, paiN Gaming* and Vici Gaming. We await the result of the China qualifier replay for the final side in attendance.

Who do you think will take the ESL One Hamburg crown?

Header image © ESL | Adela Sznajder

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