Six teams move on from Group A to the playoffs


The first day of IEM Katowice saw the six teams from Group A battling it out in best-of-one round robins yesterday, with some interesting results. The second day was the same for Group B – this tournaments “group of death” and it proved to be so, due to a couple of big upsets.

FaZe Clan and Heroic move on to the semifinals

As the leader of their group (thanks to a +21 round score), the new FaZe lineup which recently acquired former mousesports star Nikola “NiKo” Kovac has shown very strong play throughout the group stage, trumping both Immortals and Ninjas in Pyjamas  16:6 on Overpass and Cache, respectively. Fnatic and OpTic put up a better fight, closing their Train maps 16:11, and 16:12 , respectively. They do lose to Astralis in their first meeting (8:16 on Train) but regain the lead after taking the tiebreaker on Train 4:2. The new roster move seems to have paid off bigtime for them.

Heroic pulled off a couple of big upsets to make it out of Group B over everyone else – first defeating North 19:17, and Virtus.Pro 16:14 both on Nuke, and  beating Na’Vi 16:12 on Overpass. They took a couple of hard losses as well, 7:16 on Cobblestone to Cloud9 and 5:16 to SK Gaming on Mirage, but thanks to a three-way tie between them, North and Na’Vi, and their defeat of those two teams in the head-to-head matchup, they clinch the top spot in their group and immediately enter the semi-finals.

Astralis, Immortals, North and Na’Vi to the quarterfinals

Due to placing 2nd and 3rd in their groups, Astralis and Immortals have earned their slots to the quarter-finals. Astralis won almost all their regular matches; 16:12 to OpTic on Train, 28:24 to NiP on Overpass, 19:17 to Fnatic on Inferno, and 16:8 to FaZe on Train – the only match they lost was versus Immortals on Cache, where they fell short 16:12. Astralis lost their tiebreaker to FaZe and gave up the #1 spot, but earned 2nd place with a +14 round score and their tiebreaker win on 13:11 to Immortals on Train.

Meanwhile Immortals clinched 3rd place in the group through some strong close performances, proving that their new teammate Lincoln “fnx” Lau was a great addition to the team – making them capable of some great upsets.  They may have lost out 6:16 to FaZe on Overpass, but their wins 16:8 over OpTic on Inferno, 16:12 versus Astralis on Cache, 16:14 to NiP on Cobblestone, and 16:14 to Fnatic on Mirage. They ended the group stage tied with Astralis and FaZe, but lost both their tiebreakers, landing them on 3rd place.

Over in Group B it was another hard-fought battle between the teams clamoring for a spot in the top-3. Both North and Na’Vi made it due to winning out three of their five games. For North, it was three wins on Cobblestone 16:13 over Virtus.Pro and 16:12 over Na’Vi and Cloud9. Though they did lose out 17:19 to Heroic on Nuke and 8:16 to SK on Cobblestone. They got their second place group finish thanks to winning the head-to-head matchup versus Na’Vi.

Natus Vincere seem to have regained some of their consistency after a troubled run at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas – they make it out of groups here, beating out favorites Virtus.Pro (16:9 on Train) and SK Gaming (16:12 on Overpass) in their opening matches. They lose out to Heroic (12:16 on Overpass) and North (12:16 on Cobblestone) who join them in the playoffs. Though they do have the greatest round score of the group (+13) they end up with a third seed due to losing to the teams they tied points with.

Fnatic, Ninjas and Pyjamas and OpTic are eliminated from Group A, Virtus.Pro, Cloud9 and SK Gaming are eliminated from Group B

Due to placing in the bottom 3 of their group, they are now eliminated from IEM Katowice. It’s only the second tournament for Fnatic’s reunited roster, which may need more time to re-acclimatize to each other’s playstyles. It’s also the second tournament for OpTic’s current roster, and they may still be struggling to integrate their new in-game leader Spencer “Hiko” Martin. For NiP however, it’s been a continuing streak of lackluster performances – which may signal that it’s time to search for a new 5th Ninja, or maybe even shuffle out someone from their 4-man core.

In group B are upsets aplenty – both of last month’s DreamHack Masters Las Vegas grand finalists are already out of the competition. SK lose out their opening match versus Cloud9 in a surprising fashion, especially since Nuke has been Cloud9’s default-ban map for about two years now, they also lost out to a struggling Na’Vi, and starting off with a 0-2 standing proved insurmountable for the Brazilian side this time. Meanwhile the elimination of Virtus.Pro, will mark a sad day for Polish fans, as their home team will not be playing in the playoffs in front of their home crowd, and failing to get out of groups after just clinching a championship in the previous tournament doesn’t bode well for the team. Cloud9’s defeat is only the continuation of a troubling trend, as the roster has been struggling to get results as of late, with their last win being ESL Pro League Season 4 last October, and failing to qualify for the recent Major.

The playoffs

The playoffs will start off with North vs. Immortals, where the winner will be facing FaZe Clan in the semi-finals, and will follow with another Natus Vincere vs. Astralis quarterfinal match to see who Heroic will be facing in the semi-finals.

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