This marks their first Premier Event win since March 2016
This yearâ€™s iteration of Intel Extreme Masters started out with Astralis, Team Liquid and previous Major winners, Cloud9 coming out strong from Group A. While Group Bâ€™s upper bracket final turned out to be a preview of the Grand Finals â€“ where Fnatic faced off against FaZe Clan, and Ninjas in Pyjamas claimed the last slot to the playoffs.
The playoff bracket saw FaZe Clan take revenge over Cloud9 from the previous Major, winning out 16:5 on Overpass, failing 13:16 on Cache, but ultimately winning out the double overtime on Inferno with a 22:20 round score. On the other side of the bracket, Team Liquid took the series 2:1 over NiP (16:13 on Overpass, 13:16 on Mirage, and 16:9 on Inferno).
In the semifinals, FaZe Clan booked their ticket to the Grand Finals by overpowering the Danish squad of Astralis 16:10 on Cache, and 16:10 on Overpass, and Fnatic did the same by beating out Team Liquid 16:13 on Inferno, and 16:7 on Mirage.
The stage was set for a thrilling Grand Final, a repeat of the match-up from Group B, where FaZe Clan, possibly still reeling from their Grand Final defeat at the hands of Cloud9 at the previous Major, were eager to prove themselves and start a legacy â€“ while Fnatic, on the other hand, finally made it to a Grand Final after months of struggling to get results.
The series went all the way to 5 full maps, and was certainly one to watch for fans of good Counter-Strike.
The first map, Cache, was a FaZe pick, but Fnatic started out strong by winning the opening pistol round on the CT-side, but could only rack up a 2-round lead before FaZe took the third round. FaZe continued to rack up the rounds until Jesper â€œJWâ€ Wecksell stood up to the plate and got himself a quad-kill to get Fnatic their third round. Things didnâ€™t bode well for them however, as FaZe continued to take control of the game and eventually took the first half 11:4, finally closing the game at 16:5.
On the second map of Inferno, FaZe took an early lead thanks to a strong CT defense, ending the first half with a 9:6 round score, compounded further by winning the second pistol round. Fnatic wasnâ€™t down for the count, however, as Robin â€œflushaâ€ Ronnquist pulled off eight kills in 2 rounds back-to-back, and giving Fnatic the confidence to pull off a six round-wins in a row. FaZe managed to keep things under control however, and launched the game into double overtime, which Fnatic eventually won.
The Swedes continued with a strong performance on the third map of Overpass, pulling away with an early 6:0 lead, up until Ladislav â€œGuardiaNâ€ Kovacs pulled off an insane 1v5 clutch to put his team back in the game, closing up Fnaticâ€™s lead and ending the half with an 8:7 round score. Fnatic proceeded to take the first three rounds of the second half thanks to a strong pistol round and clean execution on their anti-ecos, eventually closing out the map with FaZe unable to win any rounds for themselves.
On Mirage, the fourth map, FaZe started off strong with an 8:1 lead, thanks in no small part to heroic play from Nikola â€œNiKoâ€ Kovac, who had already racked up 20 frags by that time. Despite fnatic winning the eighteenth round on a full-eco, FaZe wouldnâ€™t let go of their lead and closed up the map 16:11, forcing the series into an all-deciding Game 5.
The final map of Train was perhaps the closest one of all â€“ with both teams trading rounds back-and-forth after FaZeâ€™s initial 5:1 lead, eventually coming up to a head once FaZe got to a 13:10 round score, where Fnatic took another round, only taking back the next round thanks to more of NiKo coming up strong for his team, eventually taking that momentum to championship point. This lead would slip from their grasp however, as Robin â€œflushaâ€ Ronnquist pulled off an amazing ace and force the game into overtime, which their team eventually won.
This win at IEM Katowice marks Fnaticâ€™s first win in two years, and another Grand Finals FaZe Clan has failed to close out in their favor.