Intel Extreme Playoffs are due to start in just two days and here is a recap of what you’ve missed.
The last tournament before the player break between 18 July and 14 August starts is going into its playoffs in full swing. An extremely exciting Play-in Stage was followed by a similarly exciting Group Stage. If you did not have a chance to catch up on the event so far, here is a refresher before the Playoffs start.
While Cologne was home to some good Counter-Strike during the Play-ins, there weren’t many unexpected results overall. Maybe the most shocking one was the elimination of the German squad BIG after they lost two Bo3s to Outsiders and Astralis. It was a disappointing groups miss for them as they were just coming out of a tournament win at Roobet Cup.
The other, and more positive, surprise was the qualification of 00NATION, especially as the other two Brazillian representatives in Imperial and MiBR fell short. The run of Movistar Riders was also impressive to watch as they 2-0’d Vitality in the Upper Bracket to secure themselves a group's spot. And of course, TYLOO’s campaign was delightful to watch, after a long-time of not having Asian teams at Tier 1 events. Zhenghao ‘DANK1NG' Lv’s performance against MiBR was great to see.
While most players who shine during this stage were the expected suspects like Martin ‘stavn’ Lund or Dzhami ‘Jame’ Ali, and to be fair they managed to deliver. Other two players that should get mentions are Benjamin ‘blameF’ Bremer, who has been very consistent even when his team is not, and Victor ‘Staehr’ Staehr, who put up a 1.27 rating despite Sprout getting eliminated.
If someone was looking for surprises Group A had them covered. Coming into the event the three favorites to get out of the group were NAVI, ENCE and Cloud9 but only NAVI managed to succeed while securing the first seed and getting a bye into the Semis. Aleksandr ‘s1mple' Kostyliev was once again at the top of individual stats and Denis ‘electroNic' Sharipov impressed the audiences with his performance while transitioning to the IGL role. Viktor ‘sdy' Orudzhev should also get a mention, as he is having another good tournament as a stand-in.
The big surprise of the event was the run of Movistar Riders who managed to upset both G2 and Vitality to secure themselves a playoff spot, even though they fell to NAVI at the Upper Bracket Finals. While the Spanish team had some great performances across the roster, the shining star for them has to be Alvaro ‘SunPayus' Garcia. The AWPer’s 1.41 rating performance against G2 was a sight to behold.
Then there is MOUZ who as a team was looked over as their recent performances left a lot to be desired. But they managed to claw their way back up from the Lower Bracket against three teams that are in the HLTV’s top 10. Both David ‘frozen' Čerňanský and Ádám ‘torzsi' Torzsás have been very consistent throughout the tournament so far.
With teams upsetting others of course there are bound to be some teams getting upset. The big losers of the tournament have to be ENCE and G2. The former did not win a single Bo3 while G2 once again didn’t look like a cohesive team.
Honorable mention for Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut who once again had a great showing, 1.31 rating which is the third highest at the moment, despite his team’s exit.
16-12 Nuke pic.twitter.com/XGmXCI6XxF
— Intel® Extreme Masters (@IEM) July 8, 2022
Group B went much more like expected with FaZe and Astralis getting the two spots at the Upper Bracket. Despite conceding over ten rounds in all their six maps, FaZe did not drop any single of them and 2-0’d all their series’. It is a good sign for the reigning Major champions as they are in a half-slump ever since their victory at the PGL Antwerp. Russel ‘Twistzz' Van Dulken is once again having a good event, but this time around in Cologne we saw all FaZe members shine at least once or twice.
Astralis managed to beat Cloud9 to secure a Quarters spot mostly thanks to Kristian ‘k0nfig' Wienecke and ever-consistent blameF. On the other side, C9 failed in their task even after their second chance in the Lower Bracket. Both Sergey ‘Ax1Le' Rykhtorov and Dmitry ‘sh1ro' Sokolov were playing good, but the shocker came from Vladislav ‘nafany' Gorshkov, who had a 1-kill in 24 rounds against Astralis.
Then we saw the Lower Bracket run from Team Liquid who are attending the event with the stand-in Mareks ‘YEKINDAR' Gaļinskis. It is rumored that YEKINDAR will join TL full-time at some point after Cologne and if this event is any indication, it will be for the good of the roster as he is having a clear positive impact on them. We saw this impact the most on Jonathan ‘EliGE' Jablonowski, who had a 1.27 rating over 10 games. His 44-kill game against 00NATION in the double-overtime game was reminiscent of his past performances.
Quarterfinals, July 15
- Astralis vs MOUZ – 15:30 (CEST)
- Movistar Riders vs Team Liquid – 19:00 (CEST)
Semifinals, July 16
- Natus Vincere vs Astralis/MOUZ – 15:30 (CEST)
- FaZe Clan vs Movistar/Liquid – 19:00 (CEST)
Grand Finals, July 17
- TBD vs TBD – 16:00 (CEST)