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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Liquid break NAVI’s streak to advance to IEM Katowice semis, Virtus.pro to playoffs over FURIA

Liquid have advanced to the semi-finals of IEM Katowice after beating Natus Vincere in a nail-biting three map series, which put the CIS-based side in the quarter-finals, while Virtus.pro have rounded out the playoffs teams list with a 2-0 victory against FURIA.

After picking Inferno against Natus Vincere in their previous two encounters with varying results, Liquid decided to opt for Overpass this time and reaped the benefits as they secured a narrow victory in only their second time playing the map with Gabriel “⁠FalleN⁠” Toledo.

Liquid put together a solid offense in large part thanks to impact plays from Keith “⁠NAF⁠” Markovic, which helped the North American side turn a 0-4 start into a 10-5 half. The Canadian went on to add a couple of more multikills in the second half to break NAVI’s run while Jonathan “⁠EliGE⁠” Jablonowski and FalleN ran rampant in defense of the A bombsite, which eventually made the difference as Liquid came out on top 16-14.

Liquid outlasted NAVI after double overtime on Inferno

Natus Vincere were too much to handle on Dust2 for Liquid, the only map Aleksandr “⁠s1mple⁠” Kostyliev & co. have a perfect record on this year with a 5-0 balance following a one-sided affair with the FalleN-led team. The North American side struggled for momentum as NAVI denied them a chance at consecutive rounds every step of the way, locking down an 11-4 Terrorist half before closing it in quick fashion on the defense thanks to a second-round forcebuy win.

Inferno was left to decide the victor and despite the early stages looking headed towards a comfortable Liquid triumph, it was all but easy for the North American side in the end. Their 14-10 lead on the CT side wasn’t enough to bring the series to a close in regulation, with Natus Vincere finding gaps in B over and over to force overtime, where after two sets Liquid brought it home on the back of some clutch play from EliGE, NAF, and Michael “⁠Grim⁠” Wince.

Meanwhile, the B stream showcased a back-and-forth battle between Virtus.pro and FURIA in Group B’s lower bracket final, which also began on Overpass and had the CIS team come out on top 16-14 as they denied the Brazilian squad a comeback from 13-7 despite Kaike “⁠KSCERATO⁠” Cerato‘s best efforts to overturn the result.

Fired up from the first map, Mareks “⁠YEKINDAR⁠” Gaļinskis was a force to be reckoned with on the second, Mirage, leading from the frontlines with 11 multikills to spearhead VP’s climb from a 1-8 deficit, rendering KSCERATO‘s heroic performance all in vain again.

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Spirit defeat Astralis to top Group A, Gambit eliminate G2 in IEM Katowice

The CIS squads are continuing their show of strength at IEM Katowice as Spirit and Gambit won their last group stage matches against Astralis and G2, respectively. Spirit are therefore through to the IEM Katowice semi-finals following their clean run in the Group A upper bracket, while Astralis will have to start their playoff run from the quarter-finals as the Group A runners-up.

Gambit and G2 both reached the Group A lower bracket final after losing their opening matches in the tournament. In their last group stage match Gambit came out on top in two maps, winning their map pick Vertigo and then besting G2 on Dust2 to seal the deal with 16-11 scorelines on both maps, knocking their European rivals out of contention while booking a spot in the quarter-finals.

Spirit came out guns blazing on their map pick, Inferno, taking an early 5-1 lead on the terrorist side, but Astralis managed to turn it around by halftime, albeit just barely as the CIS squad kept it within one before switching sides. Spirit tied things up in the second pistol round, but after losing to the forcebuy found themselves in a spiral until Abdul “⁠degster⁠” Gasanov downed four CTs to give his team a lifeline at 9-13. Spirit fought to swing momentum back in their favor, but finally faltered as the Danes closed out the first map 16-11.

Spirit kicked off Train on the preferred CT side, taking an impressive 9-2 lead early on before Astralis started to close the gap with two more rounds, but degster downed three opponents in a pistol buy to hit double digits before switching sides. Having won the second pistol round Spirit kept on track all the way to a 14-5 lead, but Astralis started to mount a comeback on the defense, only giving the attacking squad one chance to plant in seven rounds. Spirit finally posted match point at 15-12 before closing out the map two rounds later, 16-13.

Spirit manhandled Astralis on Dust2 to win the series

The decider map, Dust2, started off with Spirit taking the lead after three USP kills on an A defense by Boris “⁠magixx⁠” Vorobiev. From there on out they went on to dominate, not giving the Danish squad a chance to plant until the sixth round, then they were able to retake the A site to keep the slate clean, 6-0. The pounding continued as Spirit won the half cleanly, with Astralis only scoring one round to stave off the humiliation of a 0-16 loss before the CIS squad closed the map out.

Gambit started on the defending side of Vertigo, their map pick, where despite losing the three first rounds they were able to take complete control of proceedings in a team effort, losing only one more round in the half to a 1vs2 clutch by Nemanja “⁠nexa⁠” Isaković. G2 also won the second pistol round, but even then they were quickly put on the back foot. Up against match point the European squad tried a late comeback linking four rounds in a row, but finally fell 11-16.

G2 and Gambit brawled early on in Dust2. Down by one in the ninth round Gambit had the equalizer in their sights, but a four-kill round by Kenny “⁠kennyS⁠” Schrub kept his team ahead. G2 kept the lead all the way to the half, but only by one round, 8-7. With Abay “⁠Hobbit⁠” Khasenov and Dmitry “⁠sh1ro⁠” Sokolov leading the charge the CIS squad found the cracks in G2’s defense as they gave up just three out of 12 rounds to win the second map 16-11, securing a spot in the IEM Katowice playoffs.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Virtus.pro see off Vitality, FURIA eliminate FaZe in IEM Katowice

Virtus.pro and FURIA are through to Group B’s lower bracket final in IEM Katowice following victories over Vitality and FaZe, respectively. The CIS team put in a solid performance to move past the current world No.3, who looked a bit off-colour and spent most of the series on the back foot, although credit still must be given to them as they came back from 15-8 down on Inferno before losing the game in overtime.

After previously moving past NIP, Virtus.pro will now look to complete their lower bracket run against the scary FURIA, who were firing on all cylinders in the two map victories over FaZe, showing no signs of discomfort with their newest addition as they outplayed and outclassed their opponents.

Vitality came out the stronger side on Inferno and gained a foothold in the game early on after keeping Virtus.pro from stringing rounds together. But after that slow start, the CIS team took control of proceedings and had Vitality against the ropes for the remainder of the half, which ended with five rounds separating the two sides.

Virtus.pro took down Vitality in a match between two top-five sides

More misery was to come for the French team, who won the pistol round but failed to convert the second round, with the scoreline blooming to a 14-6 lead. The CIS side hit map point shortly afterwards but could not close out the map as Vitality took control of the game and forced overtime. The momentum was now very much with the French side, but Virtus.pro kept their composure and wrapped up the game after winning two rounds in each half, with Timur “⁠buster⁠” Tulepov delivering the finishing blow with a 1v2 clutch inside B.

Dzhami “⁠Jame⁠” Ali was the main instigator as Virtus.pro shut out the Vitality offence for large portions of the first half on Overpass, although they had just a narrow 8-7 lead heading into the break after the Frenchmen came alive towards the end of their T side. Mareks “⁠YEKINDAR⁠” Gaļinskis kicked Virtus.pro further into the lead with three quick frags in the following pistol round, with the team using that momentum to carve out a 13-7 lead. With no room for error, Vitality tightened up and brought the deficit to a solitary round, but VP were unwilling to let a comeback happen and put the match to rest.

FaZe established an early lead on Mirage, but they lost their grip on the game after FURIA brought out a double AWP setup, Paytyn “⁠junior⁠” Johnson and Andrei “⁠arT⁠” Piovezan combining for 31 frags in the half as the Brazilian team raced to a 10-5 lead. The international team hit back in the following pistol round, but then they were caught off-guard as Kaike “⁠KSCERATO⁠” Cerato picked up a spectacular trio of frags to turn the tide back in favour of FURIA, who ran away with the game.

FaZe bounced back from that disappointment with a strong defensive showing on Overpass, picking up 10 rounds in a one-sided half that witnessed a vintage performance by Håvard “⁠rain⁠” Nygaard (2.07 rating, 134 ADR). FURIA rallied back from a 12-5 deficit and enjoyed a spell of dominance, but FaZe picked themselves up in the closing stages and secured the victory to level the series. The final map, Train, was a complete blowout as FURIA ran rampant from the offset, dominating the European team thanks to stellar performances from Yuri “⁠yuurih⁠” Santos and KSCERATO, who combined for 46 frags to knock FaZe out of the tournament.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

NAVI beat FURIA to qualify for playoffs, G2 oust EG in IEM Katowice

Natus Vincere have secured a spot in the IEM Katowice playoffs after beating FURIA 2-0 to send the Brazilian side to Group B’s lower bracket, while G2 survived a tough series against Evil Geniuses to eliminate the North American side from the tournament in joint-ninth place.

Natus Vincere opened their series with a hard-earned victory on Mirage, where several key plays from Aleksandr “⁠s1mple⁠” Kostyliev made all the difference. The superstar’s three multi-kills gave his team an early advantage after a forcebuy back-and-forth that lasted for five rounds, which led to a 9-6 CT half.

s1mple & co. march on to Group B’s upper final unbeaten

NAVI extended their lead after sides switched with a pistol round win but struggled in the opening gunrounds, with FURIA equalizing the score at 12-12, before s1mple stepped up again with two triples to get NAVI out of the rut and close the map 16-13.

Nuke was a much simpler affair for Natus Vincere once they got ahead after another early blow-for-blow exchange in forcebuy rounds. With Deagles in hand in the tenth round, the Russian side managed to tilt the economy in their favor and stabilize, winning a few close scenarios to pick up another 9-6 half. FURIA secured the second pistol, but another forcebuy upset gave NAVI all the tools to close the series with ease at 16-8, 2-0.

Over in Group A’s lower bracket, G2 secured Train and Dust2 in narrow fashion against Evil Geniuses despite Vincent “⁠Brehze⁠” Cayonte‘s best efforts, as the American went 33-16 and 29-20 only to see his team lose both maps by the smallest of margins, 14-16 and 14-16.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Liquid book IEM Katowice playoff spot over Vitality; Gambit eliminate Heroic

Liquid are the third team to clinch a spot in the IEM Katowice playoff stage following a hard-fought win over Vitality, who took the lead in the series in an overtime Nuke victory but looked somewhat the pace in the remainder of the series as Jonathan “⁠EliGE⁠” Jablonowski and Gabriel “⁠FalleN⁠” Toledo powered their team to victory. Meanwhile, Gambit claimed another scalp against world No.6 Heroic thanks to an imperious display by Dmitry “⁠sh1ro⁠” Sokolov, and are now just one victory away from reaching the playoffs.

The main-stream series began with a blistering start from Vitality, who romped to a 6-0 lead on the CT side of Nuke with some great fragging output by Dan “⁠apEX⁠” Madesclaire and Cédric “⁠RpK⁠” Guipouy. Liquid responded in a low-economy round thanks to a quad-kill by EliGE, and used that momentum to rally back and bring the deficit to just three rounds before the break.

Liquid will take on the winner of NAVI-FURIA in the group final

Vitality came out of the break the livelier of the two sides, winning five of the opening six rounds of the half to get within striking distance of victory. Liquid tightened up after that and took the upper hand, coming back from five map points down to force overtime. However, their efforts would be in vain as Vitality won two rounds in each half to lock down the map.

The French team carried their momentum into Vertigo as they hopped out to a quick 3-0 lead, but the landscape of the game changed once Liquid had money in the bank. Apart from a brief period of respite for Vitality thanks to two great rounds by Mathieu “⁠ZywOo⁠” Herbaut, the rest of the half was dominated by the North Americans, who took ten rounds into the break. Liquid showed no signs of slowing down after the side switch, and even though things got a bit testy after Kévin “⁠misutaaa⁠” Rabier gave the French side a lifeline with a stunning Desert Eagle quad-kill, they would be able to close out the map comfortably.

Liquid took control from the outset on Mirage and finished the half on double-digit territory as Vitality were against the ropes for most of their CT side and could not string rounds together. It was roles reversed after the break as the North Americans could not hold the opposition back in the early stages, but a comeback was beyond Vitality: EliGE and FalleN stepped up to the plate and pulled the team over the finishing line as apEX‘s troops seemed to run out of gas in the dying stages.

Meanwhile, viewers on the secondary stream were treated to a back-and-forth brawl that had spirited comeback attempts thwarted in the closing stages of Overpass and Inferno. After those two closely-contested maps, Mirage ended up being a demolition job as Gambit breezed past their opponents in a game that saw them win all five clutch situations, three of which by sh1ro, who posted a 1.85 rating.

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NIP, OG eliminated from IEM Katowice as Virtus.pro, FaZe prevail

Virtus.pro and FaZe are through to the Group B lower-bracket semi-finals in IEM Katowice following victories over NIP and OG, respectively. The CIS team now await the loser of the match between Vitality and Liquid, while karrigan‘s troops will face either Natus Vincere or FURIA.

Virtus.pro won the three first rounds on Inferno, but NIP took the lead as soon as they could afford rifles. The Ninjas were displaying a solid defensive setup until Mareks “⁠YEKINDAR⁠” Gaļinskis managed to grab three kills on A in an eco-round and Timur “⁠buster⁠” Tulepov won an 1v2 clutch in the after-plant. The CIS team won three more rounds after that and switched to the CT side with a narrow 8-7 lead. Virtus.pro set the tone of the second half as they won four in a row, leaving the Ninjas in a tough spot. NIP broke the streak, but they could not take a stranglehold in the half as Dzhami “⁠Jame⁠” Ali‘s troops quickly wrapped up the map.

Jame was the top-fragger on Overpass

NIP came out strongly on Overpass and picked up a 5-0 lead on their T side, but then Virtus.pro tightened up to win the half by the slightest of margins. The CIS team improved after the side switch as they had correct reads all the time and won eight in a row to eliminate the Swedes from the tournament.

FaZe enjoyed a 6-1 lead on their CT side on Mirage until OG won four in a row off the back of a successful force-buy. FaZe managed to add three more to their tally before the end of the half, with Russel “⁠Twistzz⁠” Van Dulken leading the charge with 21 frags. karrigan‘s side dismantled OG‘s defence in the second half, in which Helvijs “⁠broky⁠” Saukants posted a 2.85 rating (15-1 K-D, 152.5 ADR).

FaZe put on a dominant CT side on Dust2 as they strolled to a 7-0 lead. OG still managed to salvage their T side, bringing the deficit to three rounds before the break, but FaZe ran away with the game in the second half after preventing their opponents from stringing rounds together.

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es3tag transitions to AWP role for Cloud9

Patrick “⁠es3tag⁠” Hansen is set to take over AWPing duties for Cloud9, HLTV.org has learned. The change to the team’s roles comes just one month after ALEX picked up the ‘Big Green’ following the release of Özgür “⁠woxic⁠” Eker, who was removed from the lineup in part due to his “unreliable high ping” and a “compromising time zone.”

The change failed to bear fruit as Cloud9 could not reach the cs_summit 7 playoffs in January and failed to qualify for IEM Katowice. The ‘Colossus’ lost to Spirit and OG in the Play-in stage of the $1 million tournament, leaving themselves out of contention for one of the most competitive events of the year.

es3tag will don the AWP for Cloud9

es3tag is no stranger to the AWP, having often utilised the gun during his time with Heroic, especially during the five-month period in 2019 between Daniel “⁠mertz⁠” Mertz‘s benching and Casper “⁠cadiaN⁠” Møller‘s signing. He will have ample time to reacclimate with the role as Cloud9 currently have no events lined up until ESL Pro League Season 13, which is slated to kick off on March 8.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Spirit beat Heroic to advance to IEM Katowice playoffs; G2 see off BIG

Spirit have advanced to the Group A upper bracket final of IEM Katowice, assuring themselves of a spot in the playoffs and continuing a dream run from the Play-In stage, having now defeated Cloud9, BIG, G2, and Heroic. They are set to face off against Astralis at 15:30