Wrapping up the last day’s action in the Polish city
The Group Stage of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice has come to an end, and 6 teams have made it to the Playoffs. The last 6 games of the Group Stage were a mish-mash of tight, hard-fought battles with teams scrambling and clawing to get past one another, and easy-peasy one-sided stomps. If you’ve been unable to catch the games live, here’s everything you need to know about the final day of IEM Katowice’s Group Stage.
The only two matches left in Group A were the two finals, with the neo-classic matchup between Natus Vincere and G2 Esports taking place in the Upper Bracket, and a gritty grudge match between Team Liquid and FaZe Clan in the Lower.
Natus Vincere vs G2 Esports
Na’ Vi vs G2 has become something of a fierce rivalry since the former beat the latter in the final of the Stockholm Major in 2021, but G2 has come a long way since then. The French side dominated Na’ Vi in the first half of the Ukrainians’ Inferno pick, taking a brutal 12 rounds on the defense. Despite a decent attempt at a comeback, Na’ Vi were simply outclassed, and lost 16-8. Young talent Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov topped the server with his incredible AWPing.
When G2 took a relatively even 8 rounds on the T-side of their map Nuke, it looked as though the match could get very tense in the second half. However, in the words of caster Alex “Machine” Richardson, Na’ Vi looked completely out of their depth in the most uncharacteristic way imaginable, and this was more of a credit to G2 than an insult to Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and co. The French side conceded nothing and destroyed Na’ Vi 16-7 with superstars m0NESY and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač pumping up the numbers.
Team Liquid vs FaZe Clan
Considering how long it had been since Liquid had beaten FaZe on a big occasion, the Americans went into this as underdogs even before you consider their shaky recent form. Liquid surprised many by choosing to start on the T-side of FaZe’s pick Inferno, and it didn’t quite pay off as they only mustered a 10-5 half. Liquid were much better on the defense, but FaZe were simply too good to take down, and the match ended 16-14 in favor of the latter. Helvijs “broky” Saukants had the highest kills with 25.
Moving on to Liquid’s pick of Overpass, the plucky Americans had a stuttering start to their attacking half, but finished with a flourish to have a strong 9 rounds on the T-side. Once the switch was made, FaZe were pretty good early on, but Liquid pulled off their second 5-round streak of the game to win 16-11. After a poor start to the tournament, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis was a beast for Liquid on Overpass.
By the time Mirage rolled around, Liquid were in full flow. It was still a tantalizingly close, hard-fought skirmish, but Liquid’s 10-round T-side gave them the buffer they needed to withstand FaZe’s own powerful attack. The Antwerp Major winners were up 12-10 at one point with no signs of stopping, but Liquid held them back and managed to crawl past the finish line courtesy of another pop-off by YEKINDAR who was supported well by Nick “nitr0” Cannella.
Group B would see four matches on Day 4, with Fnatic taking on Complexity and OG facing Outsiders in the Lower Bracket and the winners of the matches locking horns later on. Up above, Heroic were looking for revenge against Team Vitality after the latter beat them in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups.
Fnatic vs Complexity
Complexity had truly surprised the entire community by coming this far, punching above their weight every time they were expected to fail and keeping the ball rolling. Up against Fnatic, they were fantastic on the attacking half of their map Inferno, racking up a massive 12 rounds. Fnatic gave it a fair shot on their own offensive, but it wasn’t anywhere close to enough as they lost 16-8. Michael ”Grim” Wince rediscovered his form from last month to top-frag for COL.
Moving on to Vertigo, it was Fnatic’s turn to take a big win as they got the better of COL on the T-side of Vertigo with 9 rounds to their name. They then proceeded to take the required 7 rounds within just 10, ending the game 16-9. William “mezii” Merriman and Nico “nicoodoz” Tamjidi were at the top of the server with their razor-sharp accuracy.
Thankfully for COL, the third and final map was a blowout in their favor. They only allowed Fnatic to acquire 3 measly rounds on the attack, and once the sides were switched, the Americans were quick to strike the iron while it was still hot for a statement 16-3 victory. Håkon ”hallzerk” Fjærli, who has been excellent throughout this tournament, stepped up once again for this resounding success.
OG vs Outsiders
It’s bad enough when you have to face the winners of the last Major, but it gets worse when one of your strongest players is sick and your only substitute is your coach who hasn’t played top-level CSGO in 10 years. OG did what they could on their pick of Inferno, but it wasn’t nearly enough as they lost 16-7 despite a relatively decent T-side half which saw them get 5 rounds. Pyotr “fame” Bolyshev and Dzhami “Jame” Ali were Outsiders’ most prolific hitters.
Things were slightly better on Outsiders’ Overpass as OG managed to get a decent 9 rounds on the defense, but with one player out of form and another with very little CSGO experience, they fizzled out on the attack for a 16-12 loss. Once again, Outsiders’ captain Jame was on point for the important match.
Complexity vs Outsiders
With their previous opponents out of the way, it was time for these two to battle it out for a spot in the Playoffs. Underdogs Complexity took a decent 8 rounds on the defense (Outsiders preferred the attack on the T-sided map), but despite having led comfortably at one point, ended up facing Overtime against the stone-cold killers on Outsiders. The Major champions didn’t give COL a chance in Overtime, and ended the match 19-15. Evgeniy “FL1T” Lebedev made the difference for his team, but it should be said that Grim was once again brilliant for Complexity.
Moving on to Outsiders’ pick of Overpass, a strong 8 rounds on the T-side should have secured a victory for the CIS side, but COL struck back with a brilliant performance as Ricky ”floppy” Kemery and hallzerk fought tooth and nail to take the map away from their opponents. The 16-13 win for COL pushed the series into a third deciding map.
Outsiders have shown time and again just how good they are on Inferno, and this battle would be no different. They started off by taking a decent 6 rounds on the attack, but it was really the solid CT-side afterwards that defined their performance. When the dust settled, they had won 16-13 and made it into the Playoffs of yet another big event. Needless to say, it was the J-man who got the most frags for his team, though once again, Grim was absolutely amazing and arguably the best on the server.
Heroic vs Team Vitality
What was supposed to be a bloody war of attrition, for the second time in the day, turned out to be soggy dynamite. Vitality may have started well to get to a 5-2 lead on the T-side, but Heroic fought back hard to secure 9 rounds on the defense. Once on the other side, however, all the Danes lost was the Pistol as they finished the game off 16-7. Rasmus “sjuush” Beck, Jakob “Jabbi” Nygaard and Casper “cadiaN” Møller were all instrumental in their team’s success.
If anyone had had hopes for Vitality on Overpass, Heroic were quick to snuff it out. This was their pick, and they took a whopping 12 rounds on the T-side to prove that point. After the switch, Vitality only managed one round as the Danes finished their rampage 16-4. It was truly a team effort from Heroic to make it directly to the Semifinals, but René “TeSeS” Madsen and Jabbi had the most kills.
Keep an eye out as we preview the Playoffs and also take a look back at the takeaways from the Group Stage.