FaZe clashed against Heroic in the IEM Cologne Group B lower bracket final, a series that went the distance on Mirage (16-10), Nuke (11-16) and Ancient (16-10), with the international squad coming out on top to eliminate the world’s No.4 team out ahead of the playoffs in Germany.
In the upper bracket, Natus Vincere topped the group to secure a spot straight into the tournament’s semifinals as they took out Astralis in a three-map affair on Ancient (16-7), Dust2 (19-22) and Inferno (16-5).
Robert “RobbaN” Dahlström’s men will have a big match in the quarter-finals, as they will go up against Gambit for a chance to face Natus Vincere, while Astralis will start their playoff run against Virtus.pro on the other side of the bracket, where G2 sit in the semifinals.
Heroic didn’t waste any time on FaZe’s map pick, Mirage, imposing their will and dominating the early rounds on the defense before going on to hit double digits before the switch. FaZe then flipped the map on its head as they went on a rampage with Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Helvijs “broky” Saukants taking point to seal a flawless defense, bagging the map 16-10.
FaZe kept up their CT momentum on Nuke, with broky firing on all cylinders from the very beginning, but a much more reactive Heroic kept things close early on to get into striking distance in the second half, where they put forth a strong showing as CTs to tie things up with a 16-11 scoreline.
The series came down to the line on Ancient, a map Heroic have proven to be hard to beat with a 3-0 record. Although FaZe weren’t able to keep up early on, the international squad turned things around with Finn “karrigan” Andersen putting on a show to get his team ahead before turning up the heat on the attack, not allowing the Danes to build up an economy on the way to a 16-10 victory.
Natus Vincere took the pistol round on the CT side of Ancient, Astralis’ pick, by stopping a B play, after which the CIS squad then went on to control the first ten rounds, giving up just two in a very dominant side that put Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and company in a great place to take the map. Astralis fought back, coming out on top in the second pistol round, but were too far behind to stop NAVI from taking the lead in the series, 16-7.
Astralis started the all-important Dust2 defending, and brought back a pistol round loss by winning a forcebuy to gain momentum early on, and although Natus Vincere put on a lot of pressure the Danes held their own with a four round streak to bag the first half 8-7. The CIS squad buckled down on the CT side and hit match point first, 15-13, but were taken to the brink by Emil “Magisk” Reif and company, who stole the map in overtime to force a decider.
Natus Vincere didn’t skip a beat attacking on Inferno despite the hard loss on their map pick, imposing their will and keeping Astralis’ economy in check throughout, hitting double digits with s1mple leading the way. The CIS squad won an unlikely retake on B in the second pistol round to keep charging ahead unmatched, closing the map out cleanly 16-5 to secure a spot in the semifinals.