The first playoff game of the tournament saw G2 take down Astralis in three maps, with Nikola “NiKo” Kovač standing out for his team, posting a 1.35 rating. G2 proved to be the better team Train and Vertigo, securing them with 16-7 and 16-8 scorelines, respectively, and only Nuke went the way of the Danes as Emil “Magisk” Reif and Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen shined.
“It is a really good feeling, it is really important for us to win a couple of games in a row,” Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač said about eliminating Astralis in the post-match interview. “Now we need to prepare for Gambit to try and get our revenge.” G2 lost the group stage bout against Gambit 2-1 and will be hoping to put up a better showing against the No.1 team on Saturday.
The game had wider implications than just this tournament, however, as the victory over Astralis saw G2 surpass Spirit in the ESL Pro Tour ranking. Due to that, NiKo and co. have grabbed the last invite for the IEM Cologne group stage, ESL’s flagship event which is planned to take place as a studio LAN event in July.
NiKo was the highest-rated player for G2 on all three maps
A second-round force-buy by Astralis countered G2‘s clean pistol round win on their map pick, Train, and set up the Danes for an early 3-1 lead. A strong T side from the French-Balkan team followed, though, seeing NiKo and co. finish it 8-7 ahead after back-and-forth action. Nemanja “nexa” Isaković‘s double in pop put G2 in position to claim the CT pistol, with the in-game leader showing up with multikills in the following two anti-ecos to fill the gaps for his team. From 11-7 up, G2 rode the momentum to close out the game with a flawless CT side, 16-7.
G2 looked poised to close things out on Nuke as they built an 8-4 lead on the defensive side, NiKo and François “AmaNEk” Delaunay shining for the team as they locked down the late-round situations. However, as the half-time neared, Astralis got back into it thanks to great plays from Bubzkji (8-7), and equalized the score with a 1v4 from Magisk in the CT pistol. Nothing was decided yet, though, as turnarounds, clutches, and eco wins filled the second half, but Astralis managed to close out at the final moment, 16-14.
Apart from an early CT side streak, Astralis struggled to find a footing on the defensive side of Vertigo, the decider map for the series. Strong trading and post-plants ensured NiKo and co. a massive lead heading into the break, 10-5. Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander‘s squad weren’t going to go down without a fight, claiming three rounds early into the offense to make it 12-8. The comeback attempt was stopped by two multikill rounds from nexa, who alongside a stellar NiKo pushed G2 towards a 16-8 victory.