Today marked the first quarterfinal of the IEM Katowice Major as the Champions stage got underway. We saw Na’Vi take on FaZe Clan and ENCE put up a fight against Team Liquid. Both games resulted in thrilling moments on numerous occasions as we’d expect from such a high-level tournament.
The first map of the day was Inferno, a map typically known to be a decider given its history. We jumped right in with Egor “flamie” Vasilyev getting an ace in the pistol. The subsequent round went Na’Vi’s way but they couldn’t get another round for a long time. FaZe went off to snatch eight in a row on their t-side, forcing frequent rotations and imposing fakes to constantly confuse the counter-terrorists. Håvard “rain” Nygaard, AdreN, and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer were especially effective at menacing while entering on bombsites in the half which ended 10-5 for FaZe. The second half yet again found the t-side to be the better-performing side, this time masked by Na’Vi players. Somehow, flamie managed to replicate his ace on the pistol round while being on the offensive on B bombsite.
Before we knew it, the score was all tied up at 12-12. FaZe lacked the edge to deal with the terrorists and looked utterly helpless at times. Na’Vi entered bombsites confidently and retained banana control despite Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs trying to aggressively take peeks. Na’Vi kept rolling all the way to 16 rounds, finishing things off at the 16-13 scoreline against a helpless FaZe ct-side. flamie takes the top spot with two outstanding aces and a great performance in general.
Map two ended up being a show put up by Na’Vi, or rather Denis “electronic” Sharipov, to be exact. The map was a formality for Na’Vi, especially on ct-side after half-switch. The terrorist side went Na’Vi’s way but the half ended 9-6 and everyone was expecting FaZe to put up a proper fight on Mirage. Unfortunately, apart from the pistol, Na’Vi was just too much of a beast. Perhaps most surprising was Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev’s UMP-45 hold on b-site apps as well as unexpected pushes. FaZe Clan lacked ideas on how to enter bombsites and their rally was short as Na’Vi won on Mirage 16-7 in dominant fashion.
FaZe CS:GO's run at @IEM Katowice has come to an end, falling 0-2 to NaVi in the Quarter Final.
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) February 28, 2019
The first matchup of the Champions stage told us a lot about the two teams. Firstly, FaZe Clan is having serious trouble with their form following Finn “karrigan” Andersen’s departure and the arrival of Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev. Moreover, they have brought Yanko “YNk” Paunović onboard from MIBR as coach. FaZe lacked individual flair against Na’Vi. Given the world-class status of the roster, it was a very underwhelming performance. Fans all around the world have come to expect much more out of this lineup. Secondly, Na’Vi looked brilliant. Even though the team has last year’s #1 player, Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, he was not the most outstanding player against FaZe. This just shows that it is not only s1mple that can step up when needed but his teammates as well, making a well-oiled machine out of the Na’Vi squad as they head into the semi-final.
The second quarterfinal pit one of the favorites of the tournament, Team Liquid, against one of the underdogs, ENCE. Funnily enough, Mirage and Inferno were yet again the maps played, but in a different order. Mirage saw a fairly close game until after side-switch. Liquid started off on ct-side and was fairly successful at keeping the ENCE terrorists at bay. It was perhaps Jake “Stewie2K” Yip’s effort in the retakes that shined on the counter-terrorist side. ENCE still went on to win the half at a close 8-7 scoreline. Liquid started off well on t-side, getting the first two rounds. However, they slowly crumbled as ENCE picked up steam with the youngster Jere “sergej” Salo being one of the most impactful on his team and getting the most frags at the end alongside Sami “xseveN” Laasanen at 22 each. Gradually, ENCE climbed all the way to 16, winning the first map at a 16-11 score.
Inferno went, as it often tends to, all the way to overtime. A dominant t-side presented by Liquid fell apart in the end with ENCE mounting an award-worthy comeback. The first half saw Liquid get a comfy lead at 10-5 after a great performance by Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken who had an underwhelming impact on Mirage. Moreover, Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski also showed some teeth and went on the offensive against the Finns. On their ct-side, Liquid were looking to close out things soon as they brought the score to what seemed like a comfortable 15-8.
However, allu and ENCE had other plans. In a fantastic stride, ENCE forced overtime, taking seven rounds in a row on t-side by winning clutches and generally entering bombsites like it was an easy task. Liquid often left Stewie2K alone on b-site and gambled a four-man stack on A, and perhaps that was their demise in the end. ENCE continued their streak in overtime with allu making fantastic calls. They upset one of the favorites 19-16, not even needing a decider to achieve this epic feat.
THE UPSET IS REAL, THE PICK EMS ARE RUINED 🔥🔥🔥
Massive comeback from the boys on Inferno seals the deal. 😱
— ENCE (@ence) February 28, 2019
And so, Na’Vi will face ENCE in the semifinal on Saturday at the IEM Katowice Major. Many have left the Spodek arena disappointed after today’s results, whether a fan of FaZe or Liquid. It is ENCE fans, however, that must have left in ecstatic moods. IEM Katowice continues tomorrow with Astralis taking on Ninjas in Pyjamas and Renegades taking the challenge to MIBR.
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I like to give out free AK-47 headshots in CS: GO, spend some quality time in the kitchen marinating a tender chicken breast and approximately 3 times a week I lift some relatively heavy metal stuff at the gym. Oh, and I also like to write about e-sports and everything related to gaming. Who knew one could have such contrasting interests?