At the start of the Smite World Championship on Friday, not many fans would have predicted Cognitive Prime and Titan to be the two teams left standing after two days of competitive matches at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
After months of preparation for the first Smite World Championships, the two underdog squads found themselves competing for their share of the $2.6 million prize pool, the third largest in eSports history, funded by the fans of the popular game. Fans could purchase special items in the game, with the funds going directly to the prize pool, supporting the tournament whilst gaining something in return.
Cognitive Prime came into the World Championships in the shadow of sister team, Cognitive Red, who were favourites to win the $1.3million grand prize this weekend, after finishing first in every LAN event they competed in this year, and finishing the year as the top seeded North American team. However, in a tense semi final, Prime came back from a first round defeat, to pick up two rounds in a row, and soundly defeat the young Red team.
Meanwhile, European side Titan were relative underdogs coming into the World Championships, especially in light of a shaky performance at the European Regional Championship, their first LAN event. An unbelievable late rally booked their ticket to Atlanta, in a match that seemed all but over. This weekend, Titan suffered an early loss to Cognitive Prime in Round 3 of the World Championships, but recovered strongly to knock fellow Europeans SK Gaming out and book their place in the Grand Final, hoping to avenge their earlier defeat to the American squad.
However, as the Grand Final kicked off, it looked like there would be no retribution for the Europeans, as Cognitive Prime raced into a 2-0 lead in the series, needing just one more round to clinch the Championship. Titan had other plans, storming back from the brink to win two rounds in a row, tying the score up at 2-2, and taking the Grand Final to a decisive round five. After some early back and forth, Prime stormed through their opposition, ending Titan's hopes, and pocketing over a million dollars, and the coveted World Championship crown.
The event drew praise from hardened fans and newcomers to the scene alike, with many plaudits for the World Championship aimed at the impressive atmosphere in which the tournament took place. The heartfelt congratulations and genuine sense of sportmanship displayed by Titan as Cognitive Prime celebrated their victory was a moment that should serve as an example to all competitors at every level of eSports competition. Take a look at how the deciding game played out in the video below.
Here's looking forward to Smite World Championship 2016!