Spirit down 8-13
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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.
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.
Astralis and Heroic are through to Group A’s upper semi-finals in IEM Katowice after dispatching mousesports and BIG, respectively. In the main stream match, Nicolai “device” Reedtz delivered a vintage performance as he topped the scoreboard on both maps, but the biggest talking point from the series was the fact that Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth played his first game on Nuke in almost three months, raising further questions about Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen‘s status in the squad.
Astralis made a dream start to the series as they cruised to a 10-0 lead on the CT side of Nuke, mousesports‘ map choice. The international team lacked solutions to break through the Danish defence and looked off the pace, with two rounds all that they could muster in response before the break. Christopher “dexter” Nong‘s troops improved after the side switch and put some rounds together, but their resistance was broken after Astralis upped the pace. With a successful MAC-10 push, the Danes wreaked havoc in mousesports‘ economy, and they had little difficulty closing out the game.
The Danes took an early lead on Inferno, but a successful eco on mousesports‘ part turned the tide of the game and set them up for a 6-0 run, with Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras raising eyebrows on the A site. However, Astralis improved as the half wore on and managed to bring the deficit to a solitary round before the break. The second half was played at a frantic pace, with neither side managing to assert themselves in the early stages. mousesports, who had won an eco round following a quad-kill by Frederik “acoR” Gyldstrand, finally managed to string rounds together to equalise the score at 12-12, but then Astralis tightened up and ran away with the game.
Meanwhile, Heroic put on a dominant defensive performance on Inferno as they strolled to a 12-3 lead after shutting down any chances of BIG stringing rounds together. The German team responded in kind, but they were simply too far behind as the Danes managed to close out the game in the 28th round with nothing but pistols. Nuke was a keenly-contested affair from the get-go, with Heroic picking up seven rounds on the offence thanks to a series of clutch situations going their way. BIG loosened their grip on the game after the side switch and could not force a third map as Heroic wrapped things up in the 30th round.
BIG have joined NIP in qualifying for the BLAST Premier Spring Finals from Group A following a 2-0 victory over Astralis in the consolidation final. The German team scraped a 16-14 win on Vertigo after punishing the Danes with weak buys late in the game and then ran riot on Inferno, where they managed to overcome a 1-6 deficit with some stellar AWPing by Florian “syrsoN” Rische, who went 9-0 in opening kills and had 21 frags with the ‘Big Green’.
After the match, Astralis coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen admitted to being disappointed with the result and rued the team’s mistakes. The current world No.1 will have now less than two weeks to fix their shortcomings and consistency issues before the main stage of IEM Katowice, in which $1 million will be on the line.
Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen opened the game with a quad-kill in the pistol round, firing Astralis into an early lead on Vertigo, BIG‘s map pick. But the complexion of the game changed once both teams had money to work with: The rounds that Astralis edged out from that point were few and far between as BIG took control of proceedings, with Nils “k1to” Gruhne and Ismailcan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş playing a central role as the German team picked up a 9-6 lead.
The second half began with a 1v2 clutch from Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz, but there was no follow-up as Astralis hit back immediately on a force-buy. The Danish team enjoyed a spell of dominance and eventually reduced the deficit to a solitary round, but then the game turned into a scrappy affair as neither side managed to assume control of the contest. In the end, two unlikely wins on shoddy buys saw BIG come out on top.
Astralis enjoyed a flying start on Inferno, strolling to a 6-1 lead on the T side off the back of an ace by dupreeh in a hectic pistol round. But then they met a brick wall in the form of syrsoN. The German AWPer, who had endured a quiet game on Vertigo, racked up 17 frags in the rest of the half to inspire BIG to a fantastic comeback, with Tizian “tiziaN” Feldbusch also proving key with two great individual plays, including a 1v3 clutch in the final round to give his team an 8-7 lead.
More misery was to come for Astralis, who lost the opening five rounds of the second half. The Danes then managed to put their foot down and bring BIG‘s streak to an end, but the German side responded immediately with nothing but pistols and simply ran away with the game.
The Danes were quick to set the pace in the lower bracket match with a strong CT side on OG’s map pick, Dust2, although it wasn’t until extra rounds that they were able to close it out, 19-16, ahead of their own pick.
Inferno started out with an ace from Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen after which the Danish team positioned itself to snowball on the attacking side, going on to take an 11-4 lead at the half and running away on the CT side to secure the map and series on the defense, 16-6.
Up next for Astralis is BIG, as the German Squad lost the Group A winners’ match to NIP, the first team in the group to qualify for the Spring Finals. The two teams will play a make-or-break match in a final chance at joining the Swedes in the Spring Finals and avoiding the same fate as OG, the BLAST Premier Showdown.
The series kicked off on Dust2, OG’s pick, although it was the Danes who won the first pistol round on the CT side, getting off to a 6-1 lead before a 1vs2 clutch by Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski put OG back on the board. Astralis stayed in control in the half, however, and hit double digits before switching sides.
Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen and company didn’t let up on the CT side and brought it back to a 10-10 tie before taking the lead for the first time since the start of the map, but OG fumbled when up 14-10 and gave Astralis map point. Although they were able to push the map into overtime, the European combine eventually fell 16-19 on their pick.
dupreeh aced the first pistol round of Inferno with five P250 headshots on the attacking side, after which Astralis took a 4-0 lead before conceding a round. The Danes continued to charge ahead, breaking OG’s economy and ran away with the half until mantuu had a big triple kill, although Astralis bounced right back to take it 11-4.
OG planted on A in a 3vs3 before securing the round to stay in the game, but their comeback dreams started to fade as they lost the anti-forcebuy, only managing to put up one more round before faltering 6-16 as Astralis assured their presence in the next round of play against BIG.
Natus Vincere won the BLAST Premier Global Final 2020 after recording a convincing 2-0 victory over world No.1 Astralis. Fresh off a three-map thriller against Vitality in the consolidation final, the CIS team showed no signs of fatigue as they put up a world-class display against an off-colour Astralis side that was outfought and outclassed.
Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, who was crowned the tournament’s MVP, was once again the main catalyst behind NAVI, but there were strong performances all around in the CIS team. Just days ago, when they were defeated by Liquid in the first round of the tournament, it would have been almost impossible to imagine such a comeback from the team, who capped off a dream lower bracket run with a display reminiscent of their IEM Katowice 2020 campaign.
“I think we are stronger than last year, as you can see we can actually pull off some comebacks and we have more belief in each other,” s1mple said after the series. “We just keep practising every day, discussing things, fixing mistakes. Everyone wants to reach this goal. We want to stay at the top for as long as possible.”
NAVI made a hot start to the series, racing to a 4-0 lead on the T side of Nuke, their own map pick. Astralis, who handed Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen his first game of 2021, responded with Desert Eagles and a MAC-10 and then tightened up, gradually taking the upper hand in this evenly-contested first half. The Danish team seemed to have gained a strong foothold in the game, but then NAVI put together another streak of rounds to end the half ahead.
Egor “flamie” Vasilyev opened the action in the second half with a crisp quad-kill on the lower site to kick NAVI further into the lead. The CIS team held off a comeback attempt by Astralis and rallied to a 14-9 lead before clutch rounds by Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander and Emil “Magisk” Reif restored hope amongst the Danish side’s fans. However, there was no stopping NAVI, who locked down the map in the 28th round in style, Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy pulling off a jumping headshot with a P250 in a spectacular eco round from the team.
Inferno began with a flawless pistol round from NAVI, a sign of what was to follow: Astralis made things competitive for a while, but the game quickly became a one-way street as the CIS giants steamrolled their way to a 10-5 lead, led by Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov on 19 frags.
More misery was to come for Astralis, who lost the pistol round as newcomer Valeriy “B1T” Vakhovskiy picked up a quad-kill on the A site. The Danish team still attempted a response, but NAVI refused to take their foot off the gas and wrapped things up without losing a single round in the half.
BLAST Premier Global Final 2020 standings:
The French-Balkan team won their map pick 16-14 (Dust2), but weren’t up to the task on Vertigo, where Astralis put up a strong CT side to win it 16-8. It all came down to Inferno, where G2 had a great start, but Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander‘s men were more clutch and closed it out 16-14.
Astralis kicked off the CT side of Dust2 2-0 up, but Nikola “NiKo” Kovač started rolling soon to propel his team forward on their map pick. The Bosnian player had 13 kills and five deaths as G2 grabbed the lead (6-4), and they continued to dominate for the rest of the half.
After an 11-4 advantage, G2 looked good to secure the second pistol, but Nicolai “device” Reedtz spoiled their plans with a quad kill to get things going for Astralis. It was 12-8 before Nemanja “nexa” Isaković locked down the long take with a 4K in the round, seeing G2 reach 15-8. The European team struggled to close it out, allowing Astralis to reach 14, but they finally got over the line with a Kenny “kennyS” Schrub triple on B (16-14).
A clean pistol round win again set up Astralis for the early lead, this time on Vertigo, but G2 replied with three equally convincing ones as things started going back and forth. Nevertheless, neither side managed to truly stamp their foot down in the first half, with G2 trailing just slightly, 8-7, before switching to the offense. On what is statistically the more difficult side, Astralis wear near-flawless, losing just one round to close it out 16-9.
After two slow maps, kennyS started rolling on Inferno, reaching an 11K-2D scoreline to push G2 to 6-2 lead. That was extended to 8-2 before Astralis stopped the streak, instantly breaking their opponent’s bank. That helped the Danes recover the half, 10-5, with a CT-side force win allowing them to close the gap further.
The scoreline reached 11-11 and the teams started trading rounds back and forth, with neither managing to gain a significant lead. But from 14-13 down, Astralis were able to come out on top thanks to crucial triple kills from Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, and device in the final rounds, making it a 16-14 win for the Danes.