July 12, 2019
It is time!
32 Days after the first game of the 6th Highlander Nations Cup, we’re on the horizon of the final and facing the prospect of crowning a brand new champion. We’ve seen it all – reverse sweeps, parachute bombs, trickstabs & a multitude of shock results.
The first team to ever win two Nations Cups; Sweden? Not even participating. The defending champions United States of America? Didn’t make it out of the groups. Top seeded sides England, Denmark & France? Couldn’t even win a map in the playoffs. This has been one of the most chaotic, surprising and down-right exciting Nations Cups in memory, and tonight we have two countries battling for the honor of winning the title for the first time in their history.
So how did we get here?
In Group C, Russia had the privilege of being a top seeded team. A history that includes legends such as ShaDowBurn & m0rg, this new generation lineup of Russians featured 7 out of the 9 starting players from the Premiership side kiti s bakenbardami. Led by Pahan, they looked to improve on their previous best result – a 3rd place finish in 2015.
Their path out of the groups included Finland & Hungary – two countries who reached the playoffs two years ago. Regardless, the beasts from the East stormed to the top with maximum points and without dropping a round. A default win against Estonia and a bye in the second round left a bit of a gap in playtime, but they were the only top seed to win their Quarter-Final, a tense affair against Israel. The big challenge came in the Semi-Final – against 2012 Champions Germany. Losing their map choice of Product 3-2, Russia had to come back from a round down on both Gullywash & Badwater to win the tie, booking their place in the final.
Over in Group A is where Poland kicked off their campaign. In the past Poland have had some good runs in the competition – the likes of Steve! and phromelo widely regarded as two of the best to have played their classes, helping them to their best finish of the Quarter-Finals in 2014. Five years later, STiNGHAN managed his nation further than ever before.
Their first match resulted in a loss to the USA – however, they did pick up 2 points in their encounter on Upward. 6-0 wins against both Greece and Lithuania meant they took the top spot, and resigned the NA side to a group stage exit. The playoffs has not been easy riding either – first up was 2015 runners- up Ukraine, who were dispatched in two maps. Up against England in the Quarter-Final, one of the competition’s favourites, Poland upset the odds to win both Steel and Upward 2-1 to setup a Semi-Final with Finland, who beat Denmark– another top seed. Poland made short work of the Finns to reach the final without dropping a single map in the playoffs stage.
This is for all the marbles!
For the first time since 2014, we will have a brand new winner of the Nations Cup. For the first time ever, it will be a country from Eastern Europe. Will Russia show everyone why they were considered one of the top seeds? Or will Poland’s Cinderalla story continue in the final?