The day started with an emotional opening speech by none other than the Vice President of Pro Gaming at ESL. Michal Blicharz’s speech emphasised on the competitive nature of esports and the efforts players put in to compete at this level. He made mention of two players who had lost close family members during their time at IEM Katowice 2019. Despite these losses, the players continue to play at the Major. Their commitment to their profession and their teammates is what makes these players top tier professionals.
He mentioned that the best match for him in Intel Extreme Masters Katowice was the semifinal in 2011. It was a match between FX and SK Gaming and showcased the true competitive spirit of the players. From the losing team’s Get_Right kneeling down after the loss, to FX players calling up loved ones, this series showcased emotions all over. We also had Pasha bring out the Katowice trophy to the Main Stage.
Coming to the matches for the first day at the Spodek Arena, there were two matches for the day. Faze Clan and Natus Vincere competed in the first match while Team Liquid and ENCE esports made up the second quarterfinal.
The first map of Inferno was a surprise pick by Natus Vincere. It is not a map that is common to see for Na’Vi and yet they decided to choose this map over others. Since it was their choice, Faze Clan chose the CT side. The International team made good use of their favourable side to get a sizeable lead in the match. It wasn’t long before Faze Clan looked unstoppable on the T side. However, a late run by Na’Vi saw them get a respectable five rounds on their CT side. This allowed for Na’Vi to start their comeback on the T side.
Their comeback was helped immensely by the second pistol ace for Flamie in this match. After getting all the kills in the first pistol, Flamie continued to dominate the pistol round on Inferno with the Glock. His impact in this map was definitely a big one as he helped Na’Vi secure both the crucial pistol rounds. Na’Vi continued to dominate on their T-side, often running through smokes and confusing the Faze Clan defence. Being on the CT side, Faze never really had a great opportunity to build a decent economy. Faze is also one of the few teams that do not play with the Aug in this meta. Their affinity for the AWP meant that they needed a better economy, something that was elusive to the team.
The second map was a much more straightforward affair for the CIS squad. Mirage was their map pick and Na’Vi has always been strong on the map. There were instances of strong individual performance by Faze Clan. However, for the most part, it seemed Na’vi had figured out how to defeat the Faze Clan on the map. With their victory on Mirage, Na’Vi secures their berth in the semifinals at IEM Katowice 2019.
Since there is no Polish squad at the Major, the crowd has taken to cheering for Na’Vi at the tournament. Despite having some big names on the team, Na’Vi is still without a Major victory. We can only hope that this team can find their peak at just the right moment to win their first ever Major.
The match-up was definitely a tall task for the Finnish squad. Currently ranked 17th in the world, ENCE will go up against the second-best team in the world, Team Liquid. Team Liquid came into the Major after a beautiful victory over Astralis at the IBuyPower Masters IV. The team was confident on its chances of securing a victory over ENCE, but the Finnish team had other plans.
The first map of Mirage saw both teams moving toe to toe for the most part. They traded rounds and kept each other’s economy in check. However, after a very even first half, Team Liquid simply did not have anything to show for in the second half. The team’s strength lied in their ability to take aim duels. However, ENCE’s teamwork and their excellent trading ensured that they never took unnecessary risks and were always one step ahead of their North American counterparts.
ENCE won the map 16-11 after a dominant performance across multiple aspects of the game. The young guns of Sergej and xSeven were out to play as they dominated the entire game with aggressive plays.
The second map was Inferno, Team liquid’s map choice. However, despite them choosing Inferno, they were not as comfortable on the map as ENCE was on Mirage. For the most part, Team Liquid seemed to lack structure and team play on their T side. They lacked the coordination and especially seemed demoralized by ENCE’s teamwork.
Team Liquid had a very confident and aggressive performance as Inferno progressed. Their pace caught Team ENCE off-guard and the Finnish roster was unable to adapt to this new playstyle. Team Liquid allowed themselves to make impressive, calculated plays on their CT side.
ENCE had a miraculous run on the T side. From a 15-8 scoreline, ENCE managed to take the map to Overtime after winning seven straight rounds on their T side. The crowd was firmly on their feet cheering for the Finnish squad and hoping that ENCE takes their performance into a 2-0 victory. ENCE won the first round in Overtime to take the lead once again.
In Overtime, ENCE outclassed Team Liquid with ease. They had the momentum and took the game meticulously and put up one of the most historic comebacks in CSGO Major history.
Na’Vi’s victory over Faze Clan showcased how strong the team looks in their present. They are a team that has the world’s best CS: GO player on their roster. It will not be a surprise to see them emerge victorious at this event. The Na’Vi squad has looked phenomenal so far at the Playoffs and they will face off against ENCE in their next match.
ENCE have already achieved much more than anyone had hoped for them. The team brought back their 2nd map from an 8 map point deficit. They had a great flow every round and very soon ENCE had the full momentum going into the match. We can’t wait for the upcoming semifinal between the two teams. It is going to be a very exciting match. Which team do you support for the semifinals? Let us know in comments.