One of the largest tournaments of the year unfortunately will be played behind closed doors, but the playoffs will plough on nevertheless
Astralis and G2 made it through to the semi-finals after ridiculously comprehensive performances from both of them, while EG, mousesports, Vitality and FaZe were left empty handed following a breathless day of Counter-Strike.
Astralis qualified after a clean sweep of fnatic, Vitality and Cloud9 without dropping a map. The three-time Major winners looked tidy and lethal as ever, with Magisk in particular looking like a terrifying prospect for anyone to deal with. Astralis denied double figure rounds on 4 of the 6 maps they’ve played so far, with Vitality taking them to OT on Vertigo and C9 getting 12 on Train.
G2 weren’t quite as dominant, but they were similarly impressive. They dropped one map - the opening map to mousesports, before fighting back to take maps two and three. huNter, kennyS and nexa have all had excellent performances, and G2 look to be the most dangerous of the ‘international’ teams so far - even if they’re majority French.
Swedish superstars fnatic will be facing 100 Thieves in the quarter-finals in the (empty) Spodek Arena. Despite getting blown away by Astralis, hard-hitters like the veterans in fnatic didn’t get where they are because they give up after one set-back. History suggests they hit back twice as hard - and they’re going to need to. They did manage to get past Natus Vincere earlier on, which is no mean feat, and Renegades, which is a bit more simple, to get there. fnatic cannot be underestimated and are many people’s dark horse for the trophy.
100 Thieves showed incredible resilience to beat out mousesports and EG 2-1 after 2-0’ing TYLOO. The comeback kings had AZR to thank, as he came up trumps in the big maps of the final game, ending the series with mousesports as 100T’s only positive player.
This comeback was particularly impressive given how absolutely roasted they got by G2 on day one, 16-3 16-2. AZR got only 12 kills in that series, but came back with the rest of his team to qualify for the Spodek Arena.
Liquid take on NaVi in the second quarter-final, which has historically been Liquid-favoured. Liquid have had a mixed time in Katowice, smashing Virtus.pro, beating their fellow North Americans EG 2-1, but getting swept by G2 in the Upper Bracket Final. Twistzz went insane against EG, but he’ll have to be even better to beat an upbeat NaVi.
NaVi themselves had a mixed tournament, but seeing electronic and s1mple take flight again makes them a threat to everyone. They lost to fnatic but beat NiP convincingly in their mini tour of Sweden, and won a showdown with FaZe to go through.
In any stacked tournament, there’s going to be some big names who miss out on playoffs, and possibly the best team who didn’t make it were Evil Geniuses. Brehze and Ethan started out going +29 a piece as the Americans took down MAD Lions, but it was those two who stunk out the place in the closing loss to 100 Thieves. Sandwiched between them was a tight loss to Liquid, where Twistzz went ballistic.
After the elation of winning a few tournaments last year, EG have been well and truly dragged back to Earth in recent months. stanislaw teams seem to have a shelf life and EG might just be past their sell by date. Though that might be an overreaction, going from a top 5 team to not making playoffs in two tournaments in a row is cause for concern.
Among the other big teams who missed out are Vitality. The French boys were dumped out by a resurgent FaZe Clan despite ZywOo doing ZywOo things. The youngster dropped 72 frags but was still unable to contain the Galacticos as it was actually the rookie, broky, who ended up topping the charts.
One team Vitality did muscle past was NiP, who were unable to recover, missing out after getting 2-0’d by NaVi. The Ninjas might not have been expecting to finish top eight given their somewhat recent roster moves, but this is still a legendary org, and it’s unlikely their fans will be too happy seeing their team’s consistent heroic failures.
MAD Lions missed out on a top eight finish, which isn’t too surprising, but there was a lot of people interested in how they do given their continual improvement month-on-month in recent times. Their inexperience and firepower issues showed their ugly face, but all-in-all, they can take heart from winning three maps, including one against EG.
FaZe themselves were immediately taken out after beating Vitality, as they lost a 30 round thriller on map three to NaVi. As you might imagine, s1mple and electronic impressed, but Boombl4 kept up as well - and with a triple threat like that, there’s not much you can do.
TYLOO and Renegades were sent away swiftly, leaving 100T as the only Asia Minor representative, while Cloud9 and Virtus.pro were similarly dispatched. For VP, the result was particularly poor, given they bought a team not too long ago and have seen very little return for their money.
Image via ESL.