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Astralis and Fnatic Top Group A at IEM Katowice

Zakaria Almughrabi  | 
iem

Fnatic pull off the victory against Na’Vi to guarantee a playoff berth. (Photo courtesy ESL)

Day two of IEM Katowice saw six more action packed matches. Some with higher stakes than others. Monday saw the stage be set for the first advancements and eliminations. At the end of it all, Astralis and Fnatic have earned their spots in playoffs, while Cloud9 and Renegades have been sent packing first.

Group A Upper Bracket

Astralis 2 – 0 Team Vitality

Overpass was Vitality’s map pick. Astralis took the pistol round and the two force buys, although Vitality managed to get some kills. In the first gun round, Vitality successfully took the A bombsite despite Astralis’s heavy Bathrooms control. The loss broke the Astralis economy. After another gun round win, Vitality was able to steal the lead. Astralis finally won the fourth gun round and used it to buy a double AWP setup.

With it, Astralis took six rounds in a row, the last due to an ace on the B site from Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen. The half ended 9-6 for Astralis.

Astralis held early control of the second half until Vitality bought their guns. Consecutive successful executes across both sites brought Vitality to nine rounds. The most important gun round of the map ensued, this time Astralis was able to hold on thanks to a 1v1 win from Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz against Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut. With a broken economy, Vitality bought in every remaining round. The final round saw Vitality earn a 2v1 advantage which Emil “Magisk” Reif subsequently disassembled to end the map 16-9.

Astralis took the pistol and save round on their own Vertigo pick. Vitality opted to full buy in round three, which resulted in a loss and broken economy. Despite this, Vitality were able to steal round four with a Deagle eco. Both team’s economies were on the line in the following rounds. Fortunately for Astralis, they pulled out multiple clutches thanks to the minister.

After Astralis pushed to six T side rounds, Vitality finally found their footing. The French side started using forward off angles and Ramp presence to make Astralis think twice about their attacks. When Astralis tried to attack the B bombsite, Vitality utilized a boost on the back of the site to get early frags. Alex “ALEX” McMeekin came in clutch against Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth to take the lead. Vitality used the advantage to earn a 9-6 lead at the half.

Vitality’s T side won the first three rounds, extending their lead. Once the first gun round came, Astralis were ready. They used utility to funnel Vitality into bad fights and get two rounds back. In round 21, disaster struck for Astralis as two of their players’ PCs crashed mid round. Despite that, device was able to win a 1v1 clutch and give his team the economic advantage.

Vitality would not be deterred, as they started finding early advantages which got converted into rounds. Round 25 saw Vitality go A again. Astralis played a passive bombsite defense which resulted in an explosive team fight. Astralis prevailed, closing the round gap to one. Vitality reached match point first in round 29, giving Astralis once last chance. With a scrappy buy, Astralis repelled Vitality’s B rush to send the map to overtime.

Vitality’s T side ran three assaults on the A bombsite, only one being successful. Needing a strong defense, Vitality picked up the double AWP. It worked twice before Astralis’s third A attack hit home, guaranteeing double overtime.

This time Astralis played much slower, securing two T side rounds. Their defense would hold strong this time, repelling two A attacks from Vitality. Astralis confirmed the 2-0 after a very close 22-19 Vertigo game.

Natus Vincere 1 – 2 Fnatic

Na’Vi took the pistol round, but Fnatic stuck back with a force buy win to steal the momentum thanks to Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson’s Deagle killing two on Catwalk. Fnatic earned a two-round lead before Na’Vi’s next buy round. Their A attack in round five was well coordinated, giving them the site the round. The ping pong would continue with Fnatic this time defending Catwalk and Long successfully. Fnatic continued finding clutch rounds with KRIMZ hitting 200 ADR and a 18-3 KDA.

Na’Vi weren’t without response, as they pulled back three rounds to get within one. In the next crucial gun round, Fnatic’s A defense and Mid control helped them win a post plant situation. Na’Vi’s ensuing force buy was unsuccessful in the face of Maikil “Golden” Selim’s B site spray down. The Swedes ended the half up 10-5.

The second half saw Fnatic take the first three rounds on T side, albeit while taking many casualties. Na’Vi repelled their attack in the fourth, breaking Fnatic’s economy. Two rounds later, Fnatic had guns again and took B site with a Mid and Tunnels split spearheaded by Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin. Fnatic maintained control of mid, forcing two more A site takes and securing map one 16-7.

Now on Inferno, Na’Vi needed a hot start. Unfortunately for them, Fnatic still had their foot on the pedal. After taking the first three rounds, Fnatic broke Na’Vi’s A site hold before their rotators could arrive. Na’Vi would then force buy around a saved M4A4, with Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s AWP successfully defending against multiple attacks.

Both bomb sites came under fire as Fnatic and Na’Vi traded rounds back and forth. The teams were inseparable at the half with Fnatic taking an 8-7 lead.

While Na’Vi won the second pistol round, Fnatic didn’t want to fall behind for a second. The ensuing round was won by Fnatic with pistols and grenades only, breaking Na’Vi’s economy. Na’Vi’s next gun round ended in disaster, as they team flashed their players during a Mid explosion. Fnatic went up 12-8 and were looking to run away with the game. The very next round, Na’Vi successfully entered the B bombsite with pistols only, stealing momentum back.

From here, Na’Vi’s attack found its way through Fnatic’s defense on both bombsites. The rounds stacked up for Na’Vi until the game was tied at 13. The Fnatic economy was weak, but their A site players held for long enough that the rotations could come in. S1mple got four kills in the next round to keep the score level. With their money in the gutter, Fnatic couldn’t do anything as Na’Vi took map two 16-14.

The final map of Mirage started with a fast A site rush from Fnatic to secure the pistol round. The first three rounds went to Fnatic’s A attacks, but Na’Vi defended the fourth. The next round turned into a complete fiesta of a B push which resulted in Na’Vi winning and breaking Fnatic.

Na’Vi stacked five rounds before Fnatic’s next successful push. They chose to go back to A site assaults. The first one worked, but the second was shut down easily. Na’Vi used a combination of big grenade damage and aggressive positions for s1mple’s AWP to send Fnatic into disarray round after round. Na’Vi earned a compelling 10-5 first half lead.

Fnatic secured the second pistol round full eco from Na’Vi. In round three, KRIMZ destroyed Na’Vi’s Mid push singlehandedly to keep control of the game. The score was tied shortly after at ten each. Fnatic then won the next gun round to take the lead. Their five rounds at the half turned into 14 while Na’Vi couldn’t find a single one. Even when they had the frags and the positioning, a late flank from Robin “flusha” Rönnquist in T ramp denied Na’Vi’s best chance.

Fnatic’s perfect half was interrupted by a desperate Na’Vi squad on two consecutive B site takes. It only delayed the inevitable as Fnatic won the map 16-12 to take the series. They earn a spot in playoffs and a chance to play Astralis for the top seed.

Group B Round 1

MAD Lions 1– 2 Evil Geniuses

MAD Lions picked Vertigo for map one. Evil Geniuses earned the T side pistol round win and took a 3-0 lead. The MAD Lions defense held strong on the A site once they got their guns. They held EG down as the score evened up at three apiece. In the next crucial gun round, EG forced a B site attack. The retake attempt came down to the wire, but MAD Lions lost by milliseconds.

EG were then able to run away with the half, always one step ahead of MAD’s early pressure attempts. The first half ended with EG up 11-4.

EG’s CT side was well done as they aggressively held Ramp in the face of the MAD Lions offense. Rounds were traded back and forth until EG finished the map 16-7.

On EG’s Dust2 pick, MAD Lions surprisingly were the strong starters. With the pistol under their belt, MAD Lions took the early lead. EG did take a few rounds through Mid and Catwalk control, but their attempts at taking Long failed often. After going down 4-3, Rasmus “Sjuush” Beck won the eighth by himself with a saved Krieg. MAD Lions ended the half up 8-7 as they shredded EG in the Long and Tunnel choke points.

The second half saw EG pull ahead with the initial rounds, but MAD Lions took the lead back with a five T round win streak.

The game came down to the wire as EG tied it 14-14. MAD Lions took map point first, forcing EG to win if they wanted a chance at the map. The final round came down to a close 1v1 scenario on the A site in which Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen clutched the map out 16-14.

The tiebreaker map would be Nuke. EG started on the CT favored side and won the first five rounds in a row. Round six also looked hopeless for MAD until Frederik “acoR” Gyldstrand pulled out a 1v3 AWP clutch.

Not to be outdone, Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov earned his own AWP 3K out of secret to take back momentum. EG ran up to seven rounds when MAD Lions found consistent ways to gain advantages Outside. They managed to get five rounds though split attacks before EG ended the half up 10-5.

EG took the T side pistol and the next two as well thanks to Ethan “Ethan” Arnorld’s amazing 1v3 clutch.

MAD Lions showed a glimmer of hope on CT side, until EG earned match point thanks to a 1v2 clutch by CeRq.

EG’s momentum was too much to stop as they didn’t drop a single T round. Their confident and variable attacks secured the 16-5 stomp and the 2-1 match win.

Team Liquid 2 – 0 Virtus.pro

Virtus.pro also chose Vertigo for their upset map. It looked to be for good reason, as they were able to jump out to a 7-4 lead from T side. Their A site hits were consistent, letting VP return to it again and again. Liquid’s response came in the form of Jake “Stewie2K” Yip securing the A site to bring TL back into first half contention.

Team Liquid closed out the half with four straight and won the first two rounds on their T side. The 10-7 lead looked to be good enough, until VP buckled down. Their A defense started denying Liquid in multiple rounds.

Liquid’s attacks looked one dimensional and VP excel in shutting them down. However, Liquid still got kills on their lost rounds. When they finally got one, VP’s economy was in shambles at 14 rounds. VP took the 28th round to get to map point. Needing two in a row, Liquid finally hit home with A site attacks to send the map to OT.

On their attack, Liquid got the B entry and forced the B site with a stalled rush. Taking a round back, VP opted into an aggressive A ramp hold which worked wonderfully. In the final round of the OT half, Liquid got into the B site, but VP had the advantage in the retake. That was until Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev team killed Dzhami “Jame” Ali.

VP couldn’t recover from the deficit and lost all of their T rounds to lose their map 19-16.

Now on Liquid’s Mirage pick, VP started off strong on the CT side winning the first few crucial rounds.

Once their economy was in order, Liquid launched targeted attacks against VP’s isolated players. Even though Jame had an AWP almost every round, they couldn’t find him angles to consistently utilize it. The clocks struck “Jame Time” as Liquid took six of the last seven rounds to end the half up 9-6.

VP won the second pistol and force buy, but then Liquid caught VP off guard with a full eco mid take. The surprise attack resulted in Liquid riding the wave all the way to 14 rounds as VP couldn’t get anything to work.  VP finally took a ninth in round 23, but Liquid took the next two just as quickly to win the map 16-9 and complete the 2-0.

Group A Elimination Matches

Cloud9 0 – 2 Ninjas in Pyjamas

Cloud9’s Overpass pick looked to be starting out well, until NiP turned the pistol around thanks to a ninja defuse from Simon “twist” Eliasson.

The Swedes used that momentum to solidify their defense. Cloud9 looked to find entries into bombsites, but NiP never gave them any. When it came time to execute, Cloud9 couldn’t find a bomb plant no matter where they went. Their economy was broken over and over as NiP stacked up rounds. C9 finally got one in round 13 thanks to an AWP 1v3 from Ricky “floppy” Kemery, but it was the only round they would win in the first half.

The did win the second pistol, but then immediately lost the remaining two rounds. NiP went up in the series with a 16-2 demolition.

On Vertigo, Cloud9 actually won the pistol round and the two following it. Those three rounds would be all they took in the half. NiP’s T side was unstoppable from that point, bombarding the A site repeatedly. Cloud9 were suffocated.

Cloud9 did win the second pistol round and used the advantage to increase their tally to nine. The damage had been done however, as three successful retakes in a row from NiP ended the map 16-9. Ended along with it was C9’s run at IEM Katowice.

FaZe Clan 2 – 0 Renegades

Map one of Inferno started with FaZe winning the first two rounds. Renegades bought up in the third and were shut down on their Mid and A pressure. The next gun round, FaZe ran a double Apartments setup to gain a surprise advantage. Renegades then panic pushed the B site and all died without a getting single kill. With fat wallets and all the momentum, FaZe pushed to eight rounds.

Renegades did manage to pull back five in a row with slow pick strategies. FaZe’s massive bank was all gone in round 14. The Australians even won the final two rounds, turning a hopeless 0-8 into a winnable 7-8.

FaZe took the first three rounds in the second half. The first gun round was a B hit from FaZe which turned into a 3v3 retake scenario. In the end, Marcelo “coldzera” David beat out Jordan “Hatz” Bajic to give FaZe economic control.

FaZe continued to stack up the wins with slow calculated attacks. Renegades did manage to take some rounds here and there, but FaZe hit 15 rounds with three match points. It would only take one for FaZe to end the map 16-12.

Now on FaZe’s Mirage pick, they looked incredibly dominant. After winning pistol, the name of the game was Mid control into A attacks. FaZe’s aimers were hitting every entry frag as they jumped out to an insurmountable 12-1 lead. Absolutely nothing was going the way of Renegades.

Renegades did pull back the final rounds of the half and won the second pistol. Using the advantage, Renegades put up six T rounds in a row to get within three of FaZe. Their game plan revolved around pressuring a side of the map early to force FaZe’s rotations before eventually hitting a site hard. The strategy did get Renegades to double digit rounds, remaining very alive in the game.

After a Fnatic pause, Renegades tried to switch it up with a fast rush into the A site. It was a disaster, giving FaZe their 14th round. The Aussies tried to rush B the round after which was also a wash. Renegades went from a nine-round comeback to losing three straight and getting eliminated from Katowice in 0-2 fashion.

Day Three

Another day of explosive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive action has come to an end. Two teams have been eliminated and two have been confirmed for playoffs. Wednesday, four more teams will be sent home and Group B will send two teams to the next stage. IEM Katowice’s Group Stage continues to deliver.

Zakaria Almughrabi
Zakaria Almughrabi
Zakaria is a former professional TF2 player turned caster and analyst. He has had a passion for gaming and esports for years and hopes to use his skills and experience to convey why gaming is so great. His specialty games are League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros, and PUBG.