This Thursday, Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2018 concluded its group stage phase. We head to the Playoffs, the six remaining teams battle in a B03 for a place in the grand final.
The contenders for this stage
Fnatic and Astralis
Fnatic and Astralis have already reached the semi-finals of the tournament. A great advantage for the teams after they both managed not to lose a single match.
It’s quite a surprise for both teams to be in this favorable situation. Fnatic were just eliminated from their previous tournament without winning a single match.
Astralis were also at a disadvantage. Having less than one week to solve their problems with their new player ‘Magisk’- after his first offline tournament last week.
Fnatic group stage performance
Fnatic’s first challenge was a B01 map against Heroic, who they managed to beat quite comfortably.
Going onto two B03 matches – one against G2 and other against FaZe Clan. While G2 managed to hold the Swedish team at Cache, in the following maps ‘KRIMZ’ stepped up and closed the game in Fnatic’s favor.
To close the group stage, they had to face FaZe Clan. As both teams were already qualified, the prize for the winner were an advantage in the playoffs.
Surprisingly enough, Fnatic beat their opponents without problems and didn’t let FaZe win a single map.
Astralis group stage performance
Astralis has a quite shaky start at IEM Katowice 2018. Renegades almost managed to pick a win over the Danes in their first match, that was a B01. Fortunately, ‘dupreeh’ and ‘Magisk’ managed to close the game to guarantee their first victory.
Their challenge however started when facing SK Gaming in a B03. The Danes however didn’t let their Brazilian rivals win even one map and convincingly secured their spot at the playoffs.
To conclude their group stage run, a final match against Team Liquid was set. And while Liquid guaranteed their map pick, Astralis closed the series in the following two maps without letting Liquid pick more than 10 rounds combined.
What to expect from both teams
Astralis will go on to face the winner of the match between of Cloud9 and FaZe Clan. Fnatic will be playing against NiP or Team Liquid.
There isn’t a single outcome from the initial matches that makes reaching the grand final impossible. This goes for both Astralis and Fnatic.
At this point, it’s completely possible that this Saturday the grand finals of IEM Katowice will be a match between those two teams.
Cloud9 and Team Liquid
The North American stars are back to another playoff stage. This time however, Liquid has big hopes for this tournament.
Both teams however didn’t manage achieve a clean sweep in the group stage.
Liquid lost their match against Astralis without putting on much of a challenge.
Cloud9 had to go under the lower bracket of the tournament. The team managed to beat Renegades and SK Gaming to guarantee their spot in the playoff.
What to expect from both teams
Cloud9 first match won’t be any walk in the park. Unless ‘Tarik’ upgrade his team tactical side and ‘Stewie2K’ step up, we won’t see the team advancing, as their first opponent is FaZe Clan.
Liquid again will be the main stars of the North American show. Ninjas in Pyjamas will be their challenge in the quarterfinals and Liquid has the advantage. Having a new in-game leader creates a lot of exploits which Liquid can use to have an advantage of NiP.
FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas
FaZe Clan will be competing and trying to get their first trophy of 2018.
The team roster has been getting underwhelming results considering all promises that this roster was built on. But now it’s their time, Cloud9 still haven’t fully recovered from StarSeries Season IV and this could guarantee them an easy pass to the semifinals.
Their group stage run was perfect until their match against Fnatic. The team beat North and Order convincingly but couldn’t handle Fnatic trio over-performing.
Ninjas in Pyjamas on the other hand fell in the lower bracket after losing their first match, that was against North. The team however managed to get revenge on the Danes and qualified for the playoff stage.
What to expect
The fact that NiP managed to get here is surprising, all things considered. Their new in-game leader fell perfectly in with the team and REZ and Draken are showing great performances under his system.
However, Liquid will be their first real challenge at Katowice. Quarter-finals is a great placing considering the new player entering and this is where they will probably close this run.
FaZe, the European team has everything to beat Cloud9 and they are probably getting ready for Astralis. Unfortunately for Cloud9, FaZe is looking strong after their rematch last week.
Our Overall Expectations for the Playoff stage at IEM Katowice 2018
Katowice so far has been a great event. We saw Astralis playing in full power with Magisk. A slightly better Cloud9 compared to the one we saw last week in Kiev.
We also had Fnatic completely surprising everyone, North showing that they still aren’t ready to go back to the top 10 places where the team was last year. To conclude, Virtus.Pro slump kept going.
Now an this last stage of the tournament we’re set for a great weekend of professional Counter-Strike.
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