A recap of the exciting playoff matches between some of the best teams in the competition.
The playoff matches of IEM Katowice 2021 started on Friday, February 26. The Quarterfinals saw Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro progressing to the Semifinals of the tournament where Team Spirit and Liquid were sitting comfortably after their performances in the Group Stage.
The results of the Semifinals were not all that surprising. Gambit showed tremendous form, ending Team Spirit’s dream run in the competition. Virtus.pro also booked their spot in the Finals after a convincing 2-0 win over Liquid.
Natus Vincere vs Gambit Esports
While Na’Vi were favorites to win their match, Gambit Esports pulled a rabbit out of the hat. They played the first match on Overpass, where Na’Vi played the CT side in the first half. Although it was looking even by the end of CT side, Na’Vi started losing control after a good start in the Terrorist side. Gambit started pulling the game back after going down 10-8 on the Counter-Terrorist side. It was a combination of Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov’s sharp play and Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov’s witty decision-making in the opening rounds of full buy. Na’Vi looked to get the game back when they drew the scoreline by 12-12, but Gambit showed some brilliant plays to bag the first match with a scoreline of 16-12 in their favor.
The second match on Train came as a shocker for many Na’Vi fans. Natus Vincere was hanging on for the game in the opening few rounds. However, exceptional plays from sh1ro using AWP to its maximum potential won Gambit a lot of rounds on the CT-side. With a scoreline of 11-4 in the first half, Na’VI only had the CT-side advantage to save their sinking ship in the second half. Unfortunately, Gambit took the game, giving merely two rounds to Na’Vi and booked their place in the Semifinals.
Astralis vs Virtus.pro
Astralis going up against Virtus.pro was always going to be a close battle. The first match saw VP winning comfortably in a 16-10 showdown. After a 11-4 scoreline in VP’s favor, Astralis tried to come back hard but failed in the second half of the match. Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis looked incredibly sharp throughout the match.
The second game on Train was a close one with a 7-8 scoreline in Astralis’ favor. They continued the positive momentum and won the game 12-16 with brilliant coordination from their team, especially Nicolai “device” Reedtz and Emil “Magisk” Reif doing their jobs well.
With the second game in Astralis’ bag, VP couldn’t let their guards down. The third game took place on Inferno, which seemed to favor the Russian stars. With a 7-8 scoreline, the first half of the match leaned towards Astralis. However, VP completely wrecked the Danish side with swift B site executes and picture-perfect utility usage in the T-side. Astralis couldn’t find answers to the opponent’s play, eventually getting out of their depths in the economy department. VP won the third game 16-11, advancing to Semis.
Team Spirit vs Gambit Esports
Overpass was the first map of choice in the Semifinals. Gambit Esports steered the match in their favor with a 6-9 scoreline. The second half was much closer, but Gambit pulled through and won with a 5-7 score.
Inferno being the map of choice for the second game, Gambit overwhelmed Spirit with a dominant performance in the first half. The fight for a spot in the Finals looked over for Spirit with a scoreline of 3 -12. However, Sergey ‘Ax1Le’ Rykhtorov and the team refused to give up and made a comeback in the second half. The efforts of Spirit weren’t enough to push them through, and the game ended in a 16-13 winner for Gambit.
Team Liquid vs Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro won the first match on Dust 2 by a convincing score of 9-16. The first half was not very one-sided even where VP had an advantage of three rounds over Liquid. However, Liquid couldn’t make the best of their T-side advantage and lost the second half three rounds to seven.
The second match took place on Mirage, where Liquid seemed to have more control. However, after a 8-7 score in their favor, Liquid started falling off in the CT-side. Some poor plays from the NA side and exceptional performances from Yekindar and Dzhami “Jame” Ali bagged the second half with a score of 4-9. VP advanced to the Finals beating Liquid in a 12-16 game.
The Grand Final will see Virtus.pro take on Gambit Esports. VP are favorites going into the Finals, considering they have performed remarkably well in the entire tournament. However, if the competition has taught the viewers anything, it is that Counterstrike is incalculable. So many variables in the game, continuously change the fate of teams. All the fans can hope for is an eventful and entertaining Grand Final.