By Fantasy

They did it again. Cats Gaming successfully extended their CIS HoN Tour reign past the fifth cycle, making them a three time champion in the new season. After all the rumours that they might be done, that the team might not be up to snuff or crumble - this is sends a strong message to everyone inside and outside the region. The Cats are here to stay, and aim for another trip to the World Finals, as well as a second CIS HoN Tour Championship.

Once more the team of veteran GuessWho had to face their new prime nemesis - Meka - in the Grand Finals, a matchup that was renewed for the fourth time on the biggest stage. The historical score, 2-1 in Cats favor, after they’ve managed to defeat the young team in Cycle 2 and 4. Only Cycle 3 went to Meka - which was a historic moment in itself. It was not only the birth moment of a new legitimate rival for Cats Gaming, who had lacked a real foe since SWAG disbanded, but it was also the first time in the history of CIS HoN Tour that Cats was defeated on the biggest stage. Before that moment to conclude the third cycle, Cats had won every single cycle of the first CIS HoN Tour season. Back then Cats Gaming was still in the phase of finding themselves and getting their groove back on - a journey that took them nearly two months.

Now it looks as though they have not only found themselves and are back in the rhythm, but they’ve elevated each other into new heights. Not in terms of their dominance, that has always been a part of the repertoire of Cats. Their mental fortitude seems to be something new.

Especially after the way things went down on Sunday, it stands to reason that Cats Gaming truly worked on their nerves. In the old times it wasn’t uncommon for them to get flustered and shaky when facing adversity. The moment someone stepped up to the plate and actually started swinging, was when it became dangerous for the flagship team of CIS. used that to their advantage, iTS clinched a DreamHack seed with that knowledge, and SWAG turned Cats into kittens for weeks and weeks.

The team that was used to be ahead and barely ever conceded a game could never really quite get used to the idea of falling behind early. Right now it looks like that attitude has changed and Cats Gaming has conquered that trait as well. Given the fact that the path to glory in the CIS HoN Tour led them through the Lower Bracket twice before, it is not surprising that their mental toughness with defeat in front of their eyes has improved - a frightening circumstance for the rest of the division.

Just like other teams have tried, Meka came out swinging early in the contest. The young team with carry Speedman and FLSnow dictated the pace of the game, shut down FF and Fluff’N’Stuff for an easy finish within 25 minutes. Meka could use their gameplan at will, while Cats Gaming was running scared for the majority of the match. Usually this would have been enough to make it an interesting match, see the nerves creeping up on Cats and maybe even take them down - but this Sunday Cats was having none of this. In a veteran move they brushed the loss of and went into the next battle with the sure will of putting their rival in it’s place.

If Cats has that mindset and is hell bent on executing and finishing, almost no team in the CIS region can really contest them. Meka was no exception to that, suffering the two final knockouts in the series in 26 and 22 minutes respectively. Especially FF and Fluff’N’Stuff, the two victims of several ganks and constant harassment in the first match, were poised for revenge.

And so it was Fluff terrorizing not only his midlane, but also every inch of the map with his early Portal Key on Pebbles, while FF farmed up his Ravenor to become unkillable. Flavor pick of this one was also a Geomancer played by captain Shyla. On the back of his initiation or follow up, Cats Gaming cruised to an easy victory and a lead in the series - only one more win away from the third cycle victory.

That one then came in the express delivery, when Meka once more found no answer to the questions posed by their furry opponents. With Fluff on Magmus, FF on Dampeer, they almost repeated their game plan from the second map, while Shyla even repeated the hero. In a match almost an exact copy of the previous, Cats Gaming dominated and utterly outplayed the boys from Meka. At no point in time where they even remotely in the match, thus ending the game with only 4 kills on the scoreboard. Sometimes a single number does truly tell the story.

Four could turn from a lonely number into a number of happiness, considering Cats Gaming will have a chance to win just that many cycles this season. The sixth and final cycle will kick off soon with Cats Gaming going in as the clear favorite. Behind them is Meka, that has established itself as the true #2 in the region, not only because the old runner-up in SWAG called it quits. Following Cats and Meka are QaM and Jk, both looking for the breakthrough moment or that one signature victory to put them over the top. QaM blew their first chance to make a big impression in the first cycle of this season, when they lost the Grand Finals to SWAG, but a second chance to make a first impression can be granted in this cycle. If they can follow up on their strong play during the group stage, the sky is the limit for the team - especially since it’s now two cycles of time to work in new players from the SWAG team. Now it’s time to prove themselves, now it’s time to make a stance and pick up momentum for the big regional finals that are already lurking on the horizon.

About The Author: Fantasy
Fantasy is a journalist with four years of experience working in various eSports. He is currently the HoN Tour correspondent for the CIS and SEA regions, as well as an editor for both ESL Gaming and compLexity Gaming. In addition to his online endeavors, he studies Publicity and Communication, plays American football, and loves movies.

More on this topic:
Old Rivals Collide In CIS
CIS Crown Up For Grabs
Cats Once More On Their Feet
Too Much Swag
New Czar in CIS?