A fight for charity is still a great fight to watch. Two of the top female Counter-Strike teams in the world, Team Secret and Counter Logic Gaming Red, duked it out on Saturday at the Intel Extreme Masters tournament in Oakland, California for the chance to win $10,000 for one of three selected gaming-related charities. The match was hosted by AnyKey, an advocacy organization dedicated to supporting diversity in esports, and the charities involved were AbleGamers, Extra Life, and Online SOS.
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The event was billed as a lighthearted intermission at IEM Oakland, and both teams were friendly before and after the match, but these two teams have a history with each other. Not long ago, CLG Red seemed unbreakable before Team Secret exploded onto the scene at the Esports World Convention and IEM Katowice this past year, beating CLG with ease in both tournaments. Sure this was an exhibition, but none of these women came to lose.
Before the opening knife round, Secret's Julia "juliano" Kiran and CLG's Stephanie "missharvey" Harvey met at center-stage for a quick word with the stage host. Despite his best attempts to conjure up animosity, juliano and missharvey pulled each other in for a hug instead of shooting each other intimidating glares. That was as amicable as things would get until the end of the best-of-one match.
The map, played on a newly updated Inferno, began in CLG's favor. Secret's Zainab "zAAz" Turkie and Michaela "mimi" Lintrup hit a pair of opening kills, but CLG's newest member Klaudia "klaudia" Beczkiewicz traded kills onto zAAz shortly after, and managed to win the round with a textbook one-tap headshot later on towards the A bombsite.
Thanks to some brilliant teamwork, CLG Red opened up a big lead in the first half. CLG's Christine "potter" Chi led the way through the first four rounds with nine kills and zero deaths. Secret swung the tide in Round 7, when the team stacked three players on top of each other to boost Anna "Ant1ka" Ananikova over the B bombsite, where she hit a stunning shot with the AWP onto potter. However, CLG recovered immediately and ran away with the match after a second half pistol-round win and a clean shutout in Round 17. CLG Red emerged from the battle victorious, winning the exhibition match 16-6, and defended its prowess as the most accomplished women's CS:GO team in the world.
Although the teams brought out the competitive fire in each other, the broadcast brought the focus back to an issue larger than esports. The host presented missharvey with the prize check at center-stage for CLG Red's charity of choice. "We've chosen Online SOS," missharvey told the audience. "[They're] against cyber bullying, and we think it's important [to support this cause] because we are women online, which can be difficult." Fans might cheer for one team over the other in-game, but the potential effects in the real world are something everyone in esports can appreciate.