ECS teams take advantage of missing adversaries

Cloud9 (pictured) along with Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming took full advantage of several teams competing at IEM Sydney and shook up the standings in Week 3 of the North American Esports Championship Series. Jesse Arroyo/ECS

Week 3 of the North American Esports Championship Series Season 3 is now in the books, and things sure have changed. With SK Gaming, OpTic Gaming and Renegades being in Australia for IEM Sydney this week, the rest of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive crop had a chance to put some distance between themselves and the missing teams. Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid and Cloud9 made the most of this opportunity.

CLG and Liquid squared off on Wednesday in a highly-contested matchup that ended up having serious implications for the standings. The teams started off on Cobblestone, with Liquid jumping out to an early 6-1 lead in the first half. This turned into an 11-4 half for Liquid before CLG made a furious comeback in the second half to tie things up at 12 all. Liquid stabilized at that point, though, winning the last four rounds for a 16-12 win. The action then switched to Cache and it felt as though Liquid had used up all its mojo in that first game. CLG dominated things from start to finish, only allowing Liquid to take four rounds in the entire game in what ended up as a 16-4 trouncing.

While that was it for CLG in Week 3, Liquid had one more series against Immortals on Thursday. While Immortals should have won the series on paper, Liquid took that paper and threw it out the window. The first half of Game 1 on Cobblestone was extremely close, with Liquid taking a narrow 8-7 lead into the half. Immortals then battled back to take a 12-9 lead and full control over the game in the second half before it awoke the giant inside Liquid. Liquid proceeded to win seven of the last eight rounds to take the map 16-13. Game 2 on Cobblestone was more of the same, with Liquid getting out to a 10-5 lead at the half. While Immortals managed to make things a bit interesting the in the second half by tying things at 12, Liquid closed the map with four straight wins to lock up the 16-12 win.

Cloud9 had itself quite the week, going undefeated over its four games on the week. It was first paired up against Luminosity Gaming in a pretty one-sided series. Starting off on Inferno, C9 rushed out to a dominant 12-3 lead at the half before needing just four rounds in the second half to finish up the 16-3 win behind the stellar 20/5 KD (kills/deaths) from Michael "shroud" Grzesiek. The second game on Mirage was a bit closer, but only by three rounds. Luminosity managed to win a couple more rounds in the first half this time around, only giving up a 10-5 lead at the half. C9 was undeterred, though, going on a 6-1 lead in the second half to lock up the 16-6 win. This time it was Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham's 22/7 KD that propelled the Americans ahead.

Cloud9 played one more series in Week 3, this time against Ghost Gaming and it wasn't even fair for the upstart Ghost squad. Ghost only won three rounds between the two games combined, as Cloud9 essentially just did what it wanted the entire time. Whether it was in pistol rounds or gun rounds, there was nothing at all that Ghost was able to do to stop the avalanche that was Cloud9 in this incredibly one-sided series, leading to a 16-2 win on Inferno and a 16-1 win on Cobblestone. With two more losses under its belt, Ghost continues to search for its first map win of the season.

With that, the halfway mark of the season is almost upon us. At the end of Week 3, CLG sits atop the standings with 18 points, while Cloud9 has stormed its way into second place with 15 points. Liquid's also got 15 points to its name, but Cloud9 holds the tiebreaker based on round differential, which puts Liquid in the three spot. OpTic Gaming managed to hold onto its fourth place spot, while SK Gaming was bumped into fifth.

Week 4 will get underway on Sunday, with Immortals taking on Luminosity at 6 p.m. ET, which will be followed by Cloud9 and NRG Esports at 8 p.m.