G2 prevailed in their first official match since bringing JaCkz back into the active roster following the benching of star AWPer Kenny “kennyS” Schrub. Damien “maLeK” Marcel’s men took the Swedish squad’s map pick, Inferno (16-11), before securing the series on their own pick, Mirage (22-19), with François “AmaNEk” Delaunay and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač sharing AWPing duties.
Despite the win, maLeK was cautious in his post-match statements, saying that “we are never satisfied, specifically in the last six months. If we look at the big picture, it has been a hell of a ride. A lot of changes, trying things, and a lot of losses, to be honest. I’m really happy that we won, but I’m really far from being satisfied.”
The French skipper also talked about NiKo‘s new role and how he won’t necessarily be bound to the AWP in the long term but it’s necessary in the team’s short term needs, stating that “if he [NiKo] wants to play the AWP he can AWP and if he wants to play with AK he can play with AK. He’s going to be really free in this team, we just need to figure it out. I just know he should be treated as a real star player and this is what you will see in the future.”
As for NIP, who got great results right after bringing on Erik “ztr” Gustafsson at the beginning of February but have since been unable to replicate the early victories and are currently on a four match losing streak, they will have a chance to bounce back from their opening defeat when they go up against ENCE at 12:00 on Sunday in the second round of matches.
JaCkz made a splash in his return to G2’s starting lineup, charging ahead in the early rounds of the series as he and his team took the lead on the attacking side of Inferno, which they ended up winning by the slimmest of margins, 8-7, with NiKo picking up the AWP on several rounds.
NIP took hold on the attacking side, winning the pistol round and the following two rounds to gain the lead momentarily before G2 retaliated on their first buy, which included an AWP in the hands of AmaNEk. From there on out the Nemanja “nexa” Isaković-led squad set the pace as Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač closed out match point with a stellar play to make it a 16-11 victory.
Like Inferno, Mirage’s first half was also a close one, with only one round separating the two teams at the half albeit this time around it was NIP, who started on the defense, that carried the lead after the first fifteen rounds.
G2 took the initiative in the second half, regaining the lead with four round wins in a row, but NIP turned things around with a five-round streak of their own as NiKo struggled to find impact with the AWP and the two squads remained neck-and-neck all the way into extra rounds. Two overtimes later G2 were finally able to close the match out 22-19 in a scrappy ending of the series, tallying their first three points in the group stage.