Virtus.pro have secured the final playoff spot in IEM Summer after defeating NIP 2-1 in Group B’s lower bracket final, setting up a clash with Vitality in the quarter-finals on Friday at 20:00 . The Ninjas started brightly on Mirage and held off a late comeback by the CIS squad but ran out of steam as the series progressed, with VP locking down Inferno thanks to a standout performance from Sanjar “SANJI” Kuliev before the entire team came together to steamroll NIP on Overpass.
“I feel that we are [playing] better now than we were in Pro League and DreamHack,” Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis said when asked about the team’s form in the post-match interview. “I would say we are at 60% right now compared to IEM Katowice, which I would say was at 90%.”
NIP kicked off their map pick of Mirage in confident fashion with a 6-2 lead on the T side, but Virtus.pro buckled down to win the majority of the remaining rounds to encroach on their opponent’s advantage, with a Timur “buster” Tulepov 3K reducing the deficit to a solitary round at the midway point.
Expert trigger discipline on an A site flank provided two kills for Fredrik “REZ” Sterner and a subsequent molotov into Palace enabled his teammate to defuse unharmed for a 12-7 lead. Virtus.pro replied with a string of rounds to go on and level the score at 14-14, but Hampus “hampus” Poser proved to be the difference-maker with back-to-back triple kill rounds, including a 1v2 clutch to close out the 30-round affair.
SANJI launched his team to a 5-0 start on Inferno before the two teams locked horns in an exchange of rounds, which benefitted the CIS squad for an 8-3 Terrorist lead, with two rounds apiece being traded to end the half. VP wasted no time increasing their lead before a REZ 1v2 clutch kick-started a five-round streak for NIP, but frequent save rounds from Virtus.pro eventually paid off as Jame & co. found a trio of round victories needed to take the series to a third map, with SANJI posting a 1.61 rating at the conclusion of the game.
NIP had virtually no answers for Virtus.pro’s near-perfect defensive setups on Overpass, winning just a single round in the entire half after being shut down at every turn. The Ninjas could only manage three rounds in the second half before Virtus.pro briskly wrapped up the map to book their place in the playoffs.