Final Five (Rounds): fish123-Prodigy, Solary Cup finals, Bind

Joseph Edwards
10 min readMay 19, 2020

There’s always some fun subtext to a bold claim. Here’s one you may have seen recently, from fish123 coach Sliggy:

Now, this isn’t to take ANYTHING away from fish123 (hereon referred to as Fish) or Sliggy; as I’ve repeatedly said, they’re the best team in Europe in most stretches of the imagination. But notice: “haven’t lost a Bo3”. They HAVE dropped maps, and they HAVE dropped Bo1s. And, among those, one Bo1 really rankles: the loss at Fnatic Proving Grounds to Prodigy, a 13–5 stomp on Bind.

Going into this final, it would be hard to argue that Bind was anything other than Fish’s weakest map on paper; in addition to the Fnatic result, they were held relatively close (13–9) in Mandatory Cup Ro32 by a pubstack headed up by Fortnite streamer Kinstaar, and dropped a game on it to significant underdogs BlackBelts in the QFs here (for context: BlackBelts aren’t awful, having made QFs at Fnatic Proving Grounds, but…the other two maps finished 13–2 and 13–4. They’re not even close to Fish on paper).

This, in essence, was Prodigy’s pick, and Prodigy’s big chance; they ‘banned’ Split (which, to my knowledge, fish123 have never dropped a single game on) and Fish picked Haven. Prodigy took Haven 13–10 (an upset, if not a stunning one), and so the stage was set: Prodigy went into a map where they’d already beaten fish123 before, with an opportunity to seal the series without having to go to Split.

Let’s fast forward.

ROUND 20: 10–9 FISH123

First off: thank you to the Solary cup spectator (I think it’s Carlos “Yoshi” Abreu), you are an absolute miracle worker for having the scoreboard up at 0:00 almost every single round, um homem lindo.

We join on Prodigy having taken a third consecutive round in what had been a very back-and-forth game up until that point (6–6 at the half).

This has been all about ScreaM and draken putting on a show so far; Fish have been trying hard to force on A (knowing that m1xwell isn’t having the best of nights), and while it worked on a couple of rounds, it’s turned on the last couple, because, well, they talk about his one taps.

This is a tricky round for Fish, and the question is: how hard do you go here? On the one hand, only two players are realistically going to be able to full buy next round on a wipeout — no Operator, and players forced down to Bulldogs instead of Phantoms/Vandals. On the other hand, the ulti situation is fairly good for rushing — site-clearing ults on Sova/Brimstone, Cypher can stop retakes, and enemy Sage means that it’s going to be tricky to really capitalise on an Operator/long-range pick here.

In the event, they end up going hard; after a little probing on the edges gets them nothing, they attempt a force on short with about a minute left on the timer. This ends up going poorly:

The Viper ult here (at 1:01 precisely onto A short) is the problem — ec1s clears Apartments with Brimstone ult, but they don’t feel comfortable pushing through it. Tend to think in the abstract that this a mistake when we’re talking about moving through to a cleared area; lowered vision is frustrating, but the decay and damage rate on her ult and her smoke aren’t enough that I think you should be treating it like an incendiary/molly/whatever (and in this case, the Viper is the primary Operator user on the team in the form of m1xwell, so he’s unlikely to be there himself to rifle you down).

In any case, this goes badly for Fish; they’re able to get a plant off, and the fight is closer than one might expect, but they still lose it all while leaving two alive on the other side.

ROUND 21: TIED 10–10

Fish buy what they can here — two rifles, two Bulldogs, and ardiis on a pistol in order to get an Operator next round and for one other reason. Case for an eco here isn’t entirely invalid — it would guarantee rifles at 10–11 AND 10–12, with everyone having SMG/Light Shields access, but Fish are not a team known for their conservatism.

With Sage ult up on the enemy side AND ardiis off his usual rifle AND Raze and L1NK one away from ult, impetus here is always going to be to go fast, and apropos of anything else, short B tends be the way to do that; add in m1xwell sitting on A, and the pact is sealed. True to form:

The other reason I alluded to was that ardiis was going to attempt to use Sova ult as part of the entry anyway. It works beautifully as he takes out Cypher. That combined with ec1s rifling down Brimstone gives Fish a clean 5v3 within the first 20 seconds, and they’re able to plant at 1:02. Have to question pyth and bramz playing that area of the site against a potential execute of this nature (that window->cubby position in particular is great 80% of the time, it’s just that it’s a trap against damage ults and/or a good Raze), but whatever — Fish take the site, smoke the retake areas, and force as difficult a retake as you’re going to get after a fast execute on that site. In the end, Fish come out with 2 alive — enough to pick up a rifle and m1xwell’s Operator.

ROUND 22: FISH 11–10

One of the small downsides of playing Sage as a fragger: utility buys add up (unlike some agents, Sage really can’t get away without at LEAST Barrier at $400, and realistically she’s dropping $600 every round), and if ScreaM doesn’t get a kill next round, he’s going to probably need a rifle off someone else (default money here after a loss would be $3800). For now, however, they had enough for a full buy.

On Fish’s side: interesting situation. Their round loss bonus is reset, but with the sheer amount of money ardiis saved on his Operator, they can buy rifles potentially for two just from his money even after a loss — IF they can keep the Operator in their hands. Between that and matching Sage ults, this should be a slow one for them — probe side sites, no strong executes.

They play it beautifully:

ardiis and ec1s star in The Odd Couple. ardiis single-handedly keeps them honest from an aggressive vantage point near B Window, and, because he’s ardiis, actually ends up killing TWO in a 1v4 situation. While he’s doing that, ec1s leads the charge through A short, and catches the remaining members of Prodigy well offside as they try to retake.

They still take their share of losses, and unfortunately can’t get ScreaM, but the game goes to match point.

ROUND 23: FISH 12–10

Fish didn’t keep the Operator, but basically get a full buy off just about; same for Prodigy. Fish are in a far healthier position; one of the magic numbers for econ is $900 at round’s start (since you get $3000 for a win), and Prodigy are almost all barely at or below that, so even if Prodigy win this, it could potentially be pyrrhic if they can’t keep 2–3 alive. Fish end the game on a win anyway, but have enough banked up that everyone except ec1s is guaranteed a rifle buy in Round 24 should it come to that.

Most of the good ults aren’t really in play here, so it really comes down to Sova vs. Raze on that front (and double Cypher). However, Raze on O tends to mean fast, and we get fast here from Fish:

It actually…doesn’t go so well. Up until this point, Prodigy have been running light on B; the choice with defaults on this map is basically whether or not you commit two to B Long, and Prodigy haven’t been doing that, instead opting to hide their weak link (stand-in bramz) off-site with Cipher and play back. Honestly, this is probably the right choice, particularly with m1xwell staying A site for the most part (in a sentence; you can’t really usefully use Viper’s smoke on B Long because of the range, so the combination of ‘Viper’ and ‘sniper’ pretty much locks you to A).

However, at this point, ScreaM shows off those CS instincts and stacks on B with pyth. It pays off in a big way — the 2-for-1 they get on the push long with Sage effectively kills off the Fish execute here. ScreaM adds another later for the 3k, and we haveone more round of regulation.

ROUND 24: FISH 12–11

This is it. Fish wring the bank dry, and one member — L1NK — is forced onto a Stinger to accomodate the remaining rifle buys. ardiis, for once, doesn’t have an Operator.

Balance of ults on both sides: Fish have Cypher, Sova, Brimstone 4/6. Prodigy have Cypher, Sova, Sage 5/7. This is about as low-impact an ulti round as you can likely get at this sort of point in the game unless they commit resources to get ScreaM an ulti orb.

So…

What?

1:40–1:20: Sova recon, Sova ult gets m1xwell out of his ultra-pushed position that he’s generally favoured on A short.

With Prodigy briefly unable to hold their usual positions on A, ec1s and ardiis fake a rush onto site — this is where it could have fallen apart badly, but draken takes the bait, retreats, and ec1s can now sit in Apartments to his heart’s content. (draken could probably have used drone better here too to be fair)

1:20–0:50: Fish send four towards B, ardiis probes a little to create uncertainty. ScreaM pushes through to Cubby with ec1s’s full knowledge.

0:50–0:30: The pounce. ec1s springs out, hits draken, takes him down back of A site. The rest come running up through short. ScreaM has no angle of escape, and his team are down their second-best fragger; his only option is to spray them all.

Waits, waits, oh no.

The third man is L1NK. L1NK has the Stinger. He goes down without inflicting damage, and the struggle is over. The final round ends up a Perfect — 5-for-0.

AFTERMATH

Will note: as much as of a kick in the teeth it must have been to lose this, in fairness to Prodigy, this didn’t take too much wind out of their sails going into Split; yes, they lost the third game, but they played it closer than anyone could have reasonably expected, again taking it the distance in a 13–11 lost. So, kudos (particularly to pyth, who bounced back massively after really not getting a chance to do much of anything on this map).

However…the next day, the two teams faced off again in a Bo3 for Take the Throne. Bind fell to game 3 this time, but it wasn’t even close — a 13–5 demolition, with draken (arguably the hero of the first series on Bind) going for a miserable 8 kills; Fish ran over them on B almost every round. Couple things, then, to watch going forward from this:

  • How do Fish do against Prodigy going forward? Consensus right now is generally that Fish are the #1 team in Europe, and Prodigy #2, with a fair distance between there and #3. By all accounts, we should see this matchup again and again (in whatever form the loose Prodigy stack ends up taking), so will be interesting to see if this blossoms into a (potentially one-sided) rivalry over the early months of beta.
  • How do Fish do on Bind? To reiterate, the conventional wisdom (insofar as it exists) was that Fish are unbeatable on Split, good on Haven, and most mortal on Bind. However, between these Bind performances and the Haven performances in the same serieses (two 13–11 losses), feel like the script might flip a bit (particularly with other teams picking up Fish’s innovation of running Jett there).

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Joseph Edwards

i wear a lot of hats. crypto: Head of Research for Enigma Securities (Bloomberg: NH ENI). esports: coach, LoL 2x LCS champ (TSM 17 TL 18), now Valorant w/ HONK