Following their 16th place finish in Anaheim, the community had all but written off Storm Ventures as legitimate contenders. Although their only losses came against the eventual 5th and 2nd place finishers, the team had fallen well short of their self-projected Top 4 expectations. However, with the school year coming to a close and academic endeavors set aside, the team entered the summer months with a renewed sense of determination, resolved to solidify their team strategies and make their mark on Major League Gaming’s Pro Circuit.

The team encountered early troubles, as they dropped their opening gametype of the Championship Bracket against Type Z, much to the pleasure of their highly animated underdog supporters. The crowd rallied behind the emerging challengers, eager for an upset. The members of Storm Ventures, however, would not be fazed, and took the pause between games to gather their composure. Entering Game 2, the squad was visibly more determined, as they stepped up their intensity and easily swept the remainder of the series, proving their class and squelching the hopes of Type Z and their fans.

Few would have picked Storm Ventures as the team to face off against Final Boss in the Championship match, but their electrifying display of skill in Chicago ensured that few would make that mistake again.

The victory ensured an anticipated Winners Bracket Round 2 meeting between Storm Ventures and FBI Michigan. Although each of the teams had earned Top 6 finishes during the 2006 season, questions and low expectations surrounded each side. FBI, who notoriously ousted Carbon in Anaheim, had done so with shockingly little practice. Both teams were considered to lack the polish required to make a push into the latter rounds of the Championship Bracket. Although they failed to sweep the series, Storm Ventures’ emphatic 50-21 victory was a sign of marked progression for the young squad, demonstrated by their newfound ability to lock down maps and stick to a disciplined strategy. The series indicated that Storm Ventures was a team with more than just raw talent.

Entering their match against Carbon, Storm Ventures looked hopeful. Although Storm Ventures fell victim to them in a narrow 3-2 defeat in Anaheim, their stellar quality of play had given them reason to believe that Carbon could be upset yet again. Were it not for a last minute heroic charge in Game 5 in Anaheim, Carbon would have been sent home with a 13th-16th finish.

Carbon opened the Winners Bracket Round 3 meeting with a convincing 5-1 victory in CTF Warlock, a match where Storm Ventures simply couldn’t find a way to capitalize on their brief pockets of control. Storm Ventures evened the series in Lockout Slayer, where they fended off Carbon’s historically effective BR tower rushes, and applied constant pressure to prevent Carbon from establishing a proper set-up. Game 3 of Midship Ball provided great intensity, as the game remained close until a final streak by Carbon put the match out of reach. Gandhi took the opportunity to remind his opponents that they had not, in fact, ever defeated Carbon in a tournament set. The words would prove haunting, as Storm Ventures appeared to redouble their motivation, determined to provide an upset and avenge their heartbreaking loss in Anaheim.

In Game 4 of Sanctuary CTF, Storm Ventures controlled the run of play by securing Ring 2 and using Ring 3 as a solid vantage point. After a drawn-out stalemate, SV escaped with the flag to take the game and pull the series even 2-2. Each team noticeably stepped up their intensity for Game 5, as the players screamed out enemy positions with renewed vigor. Neither side was able to secure Pink 2, as the match remained close throughout. Tied at 49 apiece, each team fired what they thought to be the winning shots. The final scoreboard read 50-49 in Storm Ventures’ favor, decided by fractions of a second.

Concurrently, Shook On3 Gaming crafted an astonishing upset of their own, as they sent Str8 Rippin to the Loser’s Bracket and secured an unlikely Winner’s Bracket Semi-Final meeting against Storm Ventures. The opening match of Beaver Creek CTF remained deadlocked at 0 for the opening 20 minutes. Each team provided several thrilling defensive plays, thwarting well-crafted capture attempts. Ultimately, Legit created a strike capable of piercing the enemy’s defenses. Utilizing a timely rocket spawn, he wreaked havoc on the enemy base, setting up for a center creek flag run to take the game. The squad was led by Legit’s 57-30 performance, while Naded also contributed with 48 kills and a mere 27 deaths.

Storm Ventures rallied past the likes of Carbon to press the idea that a new era of top contenders may indeed be upon us.

Shook On3 retaliated quickly in Game 2, opening the match to a 14-4 lead. Vegetto once more demonstrated his Pink 2 mastery, as Shook On3 rode their early lead to a 50-43 victory. During the match, Storm Ventures simply couldn’t coordinate their team shooting, and found their players frequently isolated in one-against-two encounters. In Game 3 of Lockout Ball, Storm Ventures leapt to an early lead, quickly killing all four Shook On3 members and securing a classic sniper tower set up. They jumped to a two-minute lead, and turned a very slight kill advantage into a convincing three-minute victory. Storm Ventures very wisely ran the ball to the opposite side of the map when losing control, and never failed to Play Ball as momentum shifted towards the opposition. The series closed with a 5-1 victory on Warlock Flag by Storm Ventures, as they advanced to the Winners Bracket Finals and guaranteed themselves a Top 3 finish.

During the WB Finals, Final Boss took the first two gametypes with relative ease. While it looked as though the champions simply outclassed Storm Ventures, the challengers stunned the crowd by beating Final Boss in Lockout Ball. Historically, Final Boss have dominated this gametype, and recently reinvented the way it is played through their unique green room setup. However, thanks to effective charges by Storm Ventures, Final Boss found themselves unable to establish their trademark defense. While they impressed many through their performance, Storm Ventures ultimately lost the series 3-1 and were sent to the Losers Bracket Finals to continue their set against Carbon.

The Losers Bracket Finals opened to two gruelingly close games, as Carbon grinded out a 5-4 victory, and Storm Ventures took Warlock Slayer 50-48. Storm Ventures improved upon their late mistakes in Anaheim, holding on to their lead and squelching Carbon’s rally, despite Shockwav3′s 21-11 effort. Recurring trends continued, as Carbon yet again dominated their Ball game on Lockout, while Storm Ventures took yet another dirt map CTF match on Beaver Creek. The series score lay 5-4 in favor of Storm Ventures, setting the stage for one of the most epic games in Major League Gaming’s storied history.

Storm Ventures controlled the opening minutes, as they employed an effective team-shot and anticipated Carbon’s rushes. With a 45-34 lead, Storm Ventures appeared to have sealed the match and clinched a ticket to their first MLG Championship Match. Their ample lead would prove to be their demise, as the squad tightened their play-style and relinquished control. With their members scattered, Carbon strung together a quick spurt of kills. The pace of play slowed and tension built, as the crowd held its breath in anxious anticipation. The two sides found themselves tied at 49 as Shockwav3 engaged an opposing player behind Red Warp. Carbon’s captain peek-shot from behind the frame of the warp to land the final strike, capping arguably the greatest single-game comeback in MLG history.

With the series tied at five, the two teams squared off in Sanctuary Slayer to determine who would earn the right to challenge reigning title-holders Final Boss in the Championship Match. Storm Ventures once more flew out of the gates and claimed a significant early lead. Although Carbon threw together scattered charges, they were unable to coordinate their strikes off the spawn and trailed late into the match.

With a commanding late lead, Storm Ventures once more relinquished control as Carbon rallied again. Carbon, notorious for high pressure comebacks, looked to be orchestrating yet another come-from-behind performance to be viewed alongside rallies against Storm Ventures in Anaheim’s Game 5 and the recent Chicago Game 10 thriller. Storm Ventures’ lead was slowly chipped away, as Carbon took solid control of the center ring structure. Although their map control yielded nearly a dozen unanswered kills, Carbon’s vantage point soon became a prison, as the members found themselves completely depleted of ammo. Storm Ventures overthrew the undersupplied Carbon in a final charge, closing the epic series with a nail-biting 50-48 victory and sending the squad through to the Championship Match against Final Boss.

After having come so far, many were saddened to see that SV didn’t overcome the reigning champions Final Boss, but their wildly impressive performance indicates that they may very well get another shot at glory in Orlando.

While Final Boss had on several occasions dropped games during the Winners Bracket Finals, their Championship Match record was unblemished as they swept the Finals in the opening three events of the 2006 tour. While many expected yet another 3-0 routing, Storm Ventures’ return to the main stage against Final Boss proved to be anything but. Game 5 (a continuation from Final Boss’ 3-1 lead from the Winners Bracket Finals) looked to be business as usual, as Final Boss took Beaver Creek Slayer 50-42. Storm Ventures, however, would not be discouraged, and retaliated with a 5-4 victory in Warlock CTF.

The challengers defeated Final Boss once more on Lockout with a 50-48 win, as they held team captain Walshy to an uncharacteristic 3-12 showing. Storm Ventures nearly tied the series in Game 8, falling short by a mere four seconds in Midship Ball. On the brink of elimination, Storm Ventures drew the series to within one game yet again through their victory in Beaver Creek Flag, capping an undefeated tournament in the gametype. Final Boss ended Storm Ventures’ fairy tale run in Game 10, taking MLG Chicago.

With a series score of 6-4, Storm Ventures produced the closest MLG Finals result of the season. Their performance served as a testament to the dramatic progress Storm Ventures have made in such a short period of time. They have proven themselves to be a premier contender, rising to the top when all eyes were focused on eX and XiT’s quest for Top 3 glory. Look for Storm Ventures to challenge for the title once more in MLG Orlando.