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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

FaZe eliminate Heroic to secure IEM Cologne playoff berth, NAVI through to semi-finals over Astralis

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.

broky topped the board for FaZe with a 1.32 rating in the series

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.

s1mple played lights out in the series against Astralis

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.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

NAVI defeat Vitality to secure IEM Cologne playoff spot; BIG see off Liquid

Natus Vincere have assured themselves of a playoff spot at IEM Cologne after defeating Vitality in three maps in Group B’s upper bracket semi-finals. The CIS giants stuttered, then moved into high gear, brushing aside their opponents on Nuke and Mirage with impressive attacking displays after making a false start on Overpass.

This was yet another chapter in the continued battle between Aleksandr “⁠s1mple⁠” Kostyliev vs. Mathieu “⁠ZywOo⁠” Herbaut, but Saturday’s result was a product of NAVI’s collective performance, rather than individual brilliance from their Ukrainian star, who at times looked a bit off-colour by his own lofty standards. The CIS side will return to the server on Sunday to face the winner of Astralis vs. Heroic for a spot in the tournament’s semi-final stage.

Vitality came out swinging on Overpass and established an early grip on proceedings in the game. NAVI had no answer to their opponents’ pace and aggression and mustered just five rounds in the opening half, though the scoreline could have been even worse for them if not for Valeriy “⁠B1T⁠” Vakhovskiy, who went into the break with 17 frags to his name and a 4-1 opening duel record.

NAVI came back from a map down to beat Vitality 2-1

NAVI came out of the break a different side and began to chip away at the deficit, with s1mple finally starting to show some signs of life after a quiet first half, though it was B1T who continued shouldering most of the workload. The CIS giants twice found an equaliser – first at 12-12, then at 14-14 -, but they were unable to go all the way, with a quick trio of frags by ZywOo putting Vitality on map point and setting the team up for a close win.

The following map, Nuke, was a complete blowout. NAVI continuously punched holes in the Vitality‘s shaky defence on A and were in control of the tempo throughout the first half, limiting their opponents to just two rounds on the defence. The French side still put some rounds together after switching sides, but NAVI were in no mood to be charitable and quickly put the game away.

NAVI maintained the same rhythm on Mirage and ran rampant on the T side, giving no respite to the Vitality defence. ZywOo‘s ace clutch in the 11th round was practically the only positive that the French side could take from the first half, which ended with a difference of seven rounds between the two teams, with s1mple leading the charge for the CIS team with some stellar numbers (19-6 KDD, 129 ADR and a 5-1 opening duel record).

Vitality kept themselves in it with a much-needed pistol round, but their comeback hopes took a major blow in the next round after being caught out by B1T on the B site. Dan “⁠apEX⁠” Madesclaire and Rémy “⁠XTQZZZ⁠” Quoniam looked distraught after that round, and more misery was to come as Denis “⁠electronic⁠” Sharipov pulled off a 1v2 clutch just moments later to keep NAVI firmly in control en route to series point. A clutch from Jayson “⁠Kyojin⁠” Nguyen Van kept Vitality in the game, but s1mple made sure to erase any doubts about the outcome of the series with a quick triple kill, setting his team up for victory.

Meanwhile, BIG bounced back from Friday’s beating at the hands of G2 with a 2-0 victory against Liquid, who are once again left wondering what has gone wrong. After reaching the IEM Katowice semi-finals, the North Americans have gone three European tournaments in a row without reaching the latter stages (ESL Pro League Season 13, BLAST Premier and IEM Cologne), and some off-season introspection might be needed to learn why they continue to come up short.

The German side seized the initiative almost from the get-go on Vertigo and reached map point at 15-6 after a 13-2 run. Liquid put their foot down and held back their opponents for a while, but a comeback would not come to fruition. Nuke turned out to be a much tighter tussle but the end result was the same, with BIG taking control of proceedings at the midway point of the second half – when a third map was starting to look like a strong possibility – to secure the map.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Intel Grand Slam race heats up as Gambit secure second title

Gambit have become a genuine contender to win Intel Grand Slam Season 3 after a flawless performance in the playoffs of IEM Summer, where they brushed aside Evil Geniuses, G2, and OG without losing a map in order to be crowned champions.

With their second ESL Pro Tour trophy from the last four events held by ESL and DreamHack, Gambit have equalled the tally of Natus Vincere and Astralis and need just two more titles to grab the grand prize.

Hobbit is looking to add an Intel Grand Slam win to his resume

Abay “⁠Hobbit⁠” Khasenov and co. are in a more favorable position than their rivals, though, as they have six events left to complete their Grand Slam, in comparison to four for Natus Vincere and just two for Astralis. Both CIS sides have already won a Masters Championship event (IEM Katowice, IEM Cologne), which allows them to complete the “short” Intel Grand Slam with four titles. The $1,000,000 prize can also be won without a Master Championship, but it requires winning six “regular” Pro Tour events.

Astralis needs to win the upcoming Masters Champions event, IEM Cologne, as well as the first event after the tournament break, ESL Pro League S14, in order to complete their Intel Grand Slam before the IEM Beijing victory will be removed from contention – as only the last 10 tournaments played are taken into account.

Heroic is the fourth team in the running, having won ESL Pro League Season 13, while mousesports‘ addition to the list is only technical, as the international squad would have to bring back one of Finn “⁠karrigan⁠” Andersen, Chris “⁠chrisJ⁠” de Jong, or Özgür “⁠woxic⁠” Eker and win the next three ESL Pro Tour events in a row in order to build on their ESL Pro League S10 success and win the Grand Slam.

The Intel Grand Slam Season 3 running currently looks as follows:

Russia Gambit – 2 wins (1 Masters), 6 remaining chances
Russia Natus Vincere – 2 wins (1 Masters), 4 remaining chances
Denmark Astralis – 2 wins (0 Masters), 2 remaining chances
Denmark Heroic – 1 win (0 Masters), 7 remaining chances
Europe mousesports * – 1 win (0 Masters), 3 remaining chances

* mousesports no longer have the 3-man core from the EPL S10 win

Intel Grand Slam Season 3 was put on hold in May of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic fragmented the CS:GO circuit into regionalized tournaments, but restarted at the end of the year with IEM Global Challenge being the first online event to be considered for the competition.

Below, you can find all of the events that are a part of the current season, including those whose results already expired and those set to take place before the end of the year:

IEM Chicago 2019United States Liquid
ESL One New York 2019United States Evil Geniuses
DreamHack Masters Malmö 2019Sweden fnatic
IEM Beijing 2019Denmark Astralis
ESL Pro League S10 FinalsEurope mousesports
IEM Katowice 2020 * – Russia Natus Vincere
IEM Global Challenge 2020Denmark Astralis
IEM Katowice 2021 * – Russia Gambit
ESL Pro League S13Denmark Heroic
DreamHack Masters Spring 2021Russia Natus Vincere
IEM Summer 2021Russia Gambit
IEM Cologne 2021 – July 6-18
ESL Pro League Season 14 – August 16 – September 12
IEM Fall – September 28 – October 10
IEM Winter – Dec 2 – 12

* Represents a Masters Championship Event

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Virtus.pro take down NIP to secure final IEM Summer playoff spot

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