Lots of action and an upset for the ages
The second day of the IEM Katowice Group Stage was much more action-packed than the first, with half of the series going all three maps and those that didn’t mostly being well-fought affairs. Most of the results were expected, but some surprises popped up, which included arguably one of the biggest upsets this deep in the Group Stage of an S-Tier event in CSGO history. If you were unable to catch all — or any — of the action due to work, plans or sleep, this is our short recap of Day 2.
Once again, Group A saw four matches while Group B only saw two. Team Liquid went up against Natus Vincere and G2 Esports faced FaZe Clan in the Upper Bracket, while IHC fought Cloud9 and BIG took on Spirit in the Lower.
Team Liquid vs Natus Vincere
This was one of the most-awaited matches of the tournament, but the first map turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax. Liquid were absolutely overpowered by the Na’ Vi attack on the Ukrainians’ pick of Inferno, and only managed to get three rounds on their defense. They started alright on the T-side, but were soon overcome for a brutal 16-5 win for Na’ Vi. No prizes for guessing that Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev top-fragged for his team.
In sharp contrast, Liquid’s Anubis was a thriller. The first half was an interesting threefold spread, with Liquid starting strong on the attack, Na’ Vi taking over, and Liquid finishing with a flourish for a 9-6 half. The second half was a mish-mash of twists that saw Na’ Vi lose their chance at closing the game out in the 30th round and go to an OT, but they managed to win it in the very first bout of extra time. As for the players, Denis “electroNic” Sharipov and Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi counteracted Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis’ superb individual effort.
G2 Esports vs FaZe Clan
Another absolute banger of a fixture, everyone wanted to see how G2 would do against the might of FaZe, and the answer seems to be pretty damn well. They started superbly on the T-side of their pick Nuke, preventing FaZe from stringing rounds together and getting 9 on the attacking half. They were then put in the same situation as FaZe raced to a 14-13 lead, but some brilliant defending brought the next three rounds — and the match — to G2. Justin “jks” Savage was the main man for the French side.
If FaZe had planned for a comeback on their map Ancient, their confidence couldn’t have been more misplaced. The superteam had a relatively okay first half when they picked up five on the attack, but they were simply not ready for G2’s own offense, and quickly folded to an embarrassing 16-7 loss. Nikola “NiKo” Kovač topped the score charts with jks not far behind.
Team Spirit vs BIG
A fierce battle between middleweights, this match showcased just how evenly balanced these teams are, and that either team can take it on a given day. Spirit’s Nuke began with BIG putting up a decent defense for a 9-6 half, and once on the T-side, they were able to reach their target within just 11 rounds for a 16-10 triumph as Josef ”faveN” Baumann stepped up.
BIG also went up to a strong start on their own pick of Mirage, but Spirit struck back to end things on an even 8-7 half. Once on the other side, Spirit were much more dominant, and won the match 16-11 without much difficulty. Ihor “w0nderful” Zhdanov, the most recent addition to the team, had a wonderful time as he racked up 29 kills for the win.
Things went from bad to worse for BIG as they were bulldozed on their defense on Anubis, giving away 13 rounds before going down 14-2 after the Pistol Round of the second half. They proceeded to mount a strong 8-round offensive streak, but the margin for error was just too low, and Spirit won 16-10 to clinch the series with w0nderful at the top once again. This time around, Boris “magixx” Vorobyev and Pavel “s1ren” Ogloblin were also crucial in their team’s success.
IHC Esports vs Cloud9
Everyone loves an underdog story, and IHC have now punched well above their weight for the second time in one tournament. It was only natural for IHC to pick Inferno after they had given Liquid a run for their money on the map, and despite a 9-round streak from C9, IHC had a decent 6-round attack. Their defense, however, was absolutely brilliant as they managed to best the Russians 16-14. Despite the best efforts of Sergey ”Ax1Le” Rykhtorov and Abai ”HObbit” Hasenov, it was IHC’s Garidmagnai “bLitz” Byambasuren whose performance stood tall.
Almost everyone thought C9 would make a comeback on their pick Mirage, and with 8 solid rounds on the attack, it seemed only natural. However, IHC struck back strongly and despite a tenacious effort by their opponents, the Mongolians completed one of the biggest victories against Russians since the Middle Ages. Once again, two C9 players — Dmitriy ”sh1ro” Sokolov and Ax1Le — topped the server, but it was bLitz who was there to thwart them once more.
Both Group B matches were in the upper tier, and both went the full three-map distance. Danish heroes Heroic battled American underdogs Complexity in the first game, while the nifty Fnatic faced Major winners Outsiders.
Heroic vs Complexity
On paper, Complexity has no business putting up much of a fight against HLTV number 1 side Heroic, but reality is rarely that straightforward. On COL’s pick Inferno, they were brilliant on the attack, putting up 9 strong rounds on the offensive with some brilliant plays. However, Heroic were a few steps ahead, and picked up the required 16 with Complexity still stuck on 11. Ricky ”floppy” Kemery was excellent for COL, but Jakob “Jabbi” Nygaard’s efforts for Heroic paid more dividends.
Moving on to Heroic’s Vertigo, their pick didn’t quite pan out as COL dominated the first half for an 11-4 finish on the defense, but the Danes came very close to tying things up before COL finally managed to close the game 16-13. Despite another good performance from jabbi, it was COL’s Justin ”FaNg” Coakley who had the last laugh.
Speaking of last laughs, Heroic must have enjoyed Overpass because they won it with ease. A powerful 11 rounds on the defense meant that they wouldn’t have to try too hard on the attack, and they emerged victorious just 9 rounds into the second half. This time, it was a combined effort from Rasmus “sjuush” Beck, Martin “stavn” Lund and Casper “cadiaN” Møller that won them the game.
Fnatic vs Outsiders
Although they hadn’t been at their best since their Major win, most people expected Outsiders to take Fnatic out, even with a newcomer on the team. Turns out, Fnatic were the better team on their map Vertigo, with Dion “FASHR” Derksen and William “mezii” Merriman undoing the hard work of aforementioned rookie Aleksandr “KaiR0N-” Anashkin for a 16-13 triumph courtesy of a fantastic 12-3 T-side half.
Outsiders’ choice of Mirage was a powerful reminder of what this team is capable of when they focus. After getting a strong 8 rounds on the attack, they completely blocked out Fnatic’s attacks to finish the game with a statement 16-8 scoreline. Dzhami “Jame” Ali was brutal as he displayed a performance rated 1.75 on HLTV.
Sadly, this wasn’t the Outsiders waking up after a long slumber, because despite another 30-bomb from Jame, Outsiders lost Overpass 19-16. They had a pretty decent first half, but despite being on a 5-round streak on game point, couldn’t close it out and things rolled into Overtime. Fnatic were the better team during the first period of extended play, and closed out the game and the series with William “mezii” Merriman dropping a 30-bomb of his own.
Join us tomorrow for yet another recap of the proceedings at Katowice.
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