Wrapping up the first day of the IEM KatowicePlayoffs.
After a lengthy process of weeding out the hopefuls so only the titans remain, Intel Extreme Masters Katowice has reached the Playoff stage. Even among titans, though, there are those who will push extra hard to go the distance at this tournament, and that process has already begun with the Quarterfinals. Only two games were played, and two teams are already out as a result. If you missed out on the action, here’s everything you need to know.
Outsiders vs Natus Vincere
Outsiders have struggled since their surprise win of the Rio Major, but they had shown some resilience to make it to the Playoffs. While most people considered to be the underdogs, they’d been in that position before — at the Rio Major. Meanwhile, Na’ Vi have been fighting their own demons, and were only just beginning to take flight when G2 clipped their wings. Down but not out, they’d have to devise something special to get past the cool, calm and calculated gameplay Outsiders are famous for.
Outsiders’ pick of Overpass didn’t seem too effective when Na’ Vi went up to an 8-3 lead, but the Russian side finished well to claim a decent 6-round T-side half. They then proceeded to get five quick rounds on the defense to get to an 11-10 lead, but Na’ Vi struck back strong and broke their opponents’ economy to claim an important 16-13 win.
The legendary Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev — almost obviously — led the charts for Na’ Vi, but in fairness to Outsiders, the brainy Dzhami “Jame” Ali and impressive rookie Aleksandr “KaiR0N-” Anashkin did superbly for their team. Sadly for Outsiders, Aleksei “Qikert” Golubev was absolutely out of it with his performance being well below those of everyone else.
It’s no secret that Na’ Vi are incredibly strong on Inferno, but their CT-side failed to prevent Outsiders from winning a commendable 8 rounds on the attack. However, the Ukrainians’ T-side was a step ahead, and they completely prevented Outsiders from stringing rounds together on the defense. With their economy in tatters, Outsiders lost 16-12.
Jame was excellent once again, although his stats are — as always — somewhat inflated by the sheer number of times he chooses to save at the end of a round. For the winners, Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi and Denis “electroNic” Sharipov were rock-solid.
Team Liquid vs Team Vitality
Although they’d been defeated early in their run, Liquid had displayed plenty of mettle to make it past the likes of a strong Team Spirit and the mighty FaZe Clan. They have been in checkered form lately, and would require some magic to defeat the likes of Vitality. Vitality has been a lot like Liquid in many ways, with decent runs in tournaments juxtaposed with subpar performances, as far as their record over the last few months goes. In terms of firepower, they are about neck-and-neck with Liquid, so they’d also have to step up to emerge triumphant.
This was easily the best game of the Quarterfinals. Liquid’s choosing of Overpass was justified by the fact that they had been pretty good on Overpass in recent months, Vitality’s ironclad defense had the French clan up 12-0, and they were showing no signs of relenting. However, Liquid were able to pick up a couple of rounds to end the half 13-2. After the switch, it was Liquid’s turn to hunker down. Despite Vitality being 15-7 up at one point, with just one round required to close the map, the Americans held on and won the match 19-17 in Overtime.
Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski was beastly for Liquid as usual, but he was supported well by Joshua “oSee” Ohm. However, Nick “nitr0” Cannella wasn’t at his best, and neither was Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen for his team in the second half.
Moving on to Nuke, Vitality showed just why they keep picking the map with a powerful 9-round haul on the T-side. In fact, it was a comeback from Liquid late in the first half that saw them salvage something out of it. Sadly for the Americans, Vitality were once again excellent on the defense, and closed the game out 16-7 after a powerhouse CT-side.
It was a Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut show as the star Frenchman racked up 27 kills with an HLTV rating of 1.99. For context, the second-highest rating was a relatively meager 1.28 belonging to Lotan “Spinx” Giladi.
If Vitality thought they’d get to have the last laugh with a win on Mirage, they were dead wrong. It was Liquid’s turn to pick up 9 rounds on the attack, with Vitality’s CT-side crumbling after two dominant maps. Once on the other side, it was a hard-fought war of attrition, but one that Liquid managed to stay ahead in. When the dust settled, the Americans had won 16-12 to book a spot in the Semifinals against G2.
This time, it was Keith “NAF” Markovic’s turn to shine as the veteran played his heart out. Emil “Magisk” Reif was brilliant for Vitality, but his team leader Dan “apEX” Madesclaire’s performance left a lot to be desired as his team crashed out of the tournament.
Join us again for the recaps of the Semifinals once they end, and take a look at our numerous CSGO content in the meantime.