How did they pull ahead after losing their first match?
Team Exotic certainly upset the finals of the 2022 Spring Invitational after making a resounding comeback. In the first round of the groups-stage on Friday, we saw them lose to Team Gonjo on Fracture in a close 13-10 match. The first part of this game saw a slight lead on Exotic's side, with the halftime score being 7-5. We expected them to further snowball this lead after winning the first two rounds as attackers, however, Team Gonjo made a resounding defense and proceeded to win the next six rounds, only slipping up on round 21 before closing the game out in Gonjo's favor.
Team Gonjo was a dark horse competitor in the tournament, having not been required to qualify due to their prior experience in the Winter Invitational as the third-place team. At the time, they had been going as Tensai before being picked up by an organization and proved a rival to Able Esports. Since that event, they had grown their roster extensively, including players like Aqui and Pa1nt who are both top NA players. That is why their victory against Exotic marked a huge possibility that they would be able to make it to the finals, but nothing was yet for certain.
Following this minor upset in the groups-stage, both Gonjo and Exotic proceeded to move onto the playoffs where Exotic would completely overpower SharpX Red by winning their first map (Ascent) 13-1 followed by their second map (Icebox) 13-4). Team Gonjo would also lose their first map (Fracture) 6-13 against Team Flux before winning 13-5 on Ascent and then 13-10 on Haven. These two victories saw Team Gonjo and Team Exotic facing off in the semi-finals with Exotic taking the first map 13-8, followed by an extremely close 18-16 victory on Icebox. Team Gonjo was eliminated, and Exotic proceeded to the finals against afterMath Esports who had not lost a single map yet. Aftermath Esports was certainly a favorite to win the Spring Invitational, having already dominated the qualifier leading up to the event and a history of being able to compete with tier 1 teams like FaZe Clan and Soar. However, both they and Exotic had expressed a prior history with the opposing team. In an interview, Exotic even stated, "We told them we'd see them in the finals, so we had to follow through" meaning a small rivalry was riding on this match.
Their first map saw Exotic win 13-10 on Ascent, setting the tone that they could actually achieve victory over afterMath Esports. Even though this was a victory, it was a close match that could've gone either way, so was unthinkable to see them win 13-6 on their second map, taking victory over afterMath Esports in the 2022 Spring Invitational.
After the event, Team Exotic discussed in an interview with casters Elliot Duffin (Redeye) and Joseph McKinney (Zombihugs) that they weren't even worried about making it to the finals, despite their first match loss against Team Gonjo. They were a confident roster and certainly knew their worth, but that doesn't mean afterMath was any worse. Both of those teams had earned their place in the finals, and their opponents were certainly in a tough spot having to face them throughout the event.
Sponsorsmanship is always important to us, but a bit of a rivalry can be really exciting. We don't expect this fun little banter to go anywhere anytime soon, and it'll be exciting to see where both of these teams go in the future, having already gathered dedicated fan bases who supports their organizations, and hopefully, we'll be able to see them both facing off again in our upcoming events, like the 2022 Summer Invitational.
Stay tuned, and make sure to check out our upcoming events!