The Intel Extreme Playoffs are about to start in just two days and here’s a recap of what you missed.
The last tournament before the player’s break, between 18 July and 14 August, is in full swing with its playoffs. An extremely exciting play-in stage was followed by an equally exciting group stage. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the event by now, here’s a refresher before the playoffs begin.
While Cologne was home to some good Counter-Strike during the play-ins, there weren’t many unexpected results overall. Perhaps the most shocking was the elimination of the German squad BIG after losing two Bo3s to the Outsiders and Astralis. It was a disappointing group for them as they were coming off a tournament win in the Rubat Cup.
The other, and more positive, surprise was the merit of 00NATION, especially as the other two Brazilian representatives in Imperial and MiBR diminished. The Movistar riders’ race was also impressive to watch as they saw Vitality 2-0 in the upper bracket to secure themselves a group spot. And of course, Tylu’s campaign was a delight to watch, long after Asian teams were not there in Tier 1 events. The performance of Zhenghao ‘DANK1NG’ Lv against MiBR was great to watch.
While most of the players who shone during this phase were expected suspects like Martin ‘Steven’ Lund or Dzmi ‘Jem’ Ali, and to be fair they managed to deliver. The other two players who should be mentioned are Benjamin ‘BlemF’ Bremer, who has been very consistent even when he is not on his team, and Viktor ‘Stehr’ Stehr, who rated 1.27 despite Sprout’s exit.
If anyone was looking for a surprise, Group A had them covered. The three favorites to be eliminated from the group at the event were NAVI, ENCE and Cloud9, but only NAVI managed to secure a first seed and a bye in the semi-finals. Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev was once again at the helm of individual figures and Denis ‘Electronic’ Sharipov impressed the audience with his performance during the transition to the IGL role. Viktor ‘sdy’ Orudzhev should also be mentioned, as he has another good tournament stand as a stand-in.
The biggest surprise of the event was the run from the Movistar riders, who managed to upset both G2 and Vitality to secure themselves a playoff spot, even though they fell to NAVI in the Upper Bracket Finals. While the Spanish team had some great performances on the roster, the shining star for them should be lvaro ‘Sunpayas’ García. The AWPer’s 1.41 rating over the G2’s performance was worth seeing.
Then there is the MOUZ that was seen as a team as their recent performances left a lot to be desired. But they managed to make their way back from the Lower Bracket against three teams in HLTV’s top 10. Both David ‘Frozen’ Cerzhanski and Adam ‘Torczy’ Torzas have been very consistent throughout the tournament so far.
Having teams bothering others is certainly bound to upset some teams. The big losers of the tournament should be ENCE and G2. The former did not win a single Bo3 while G2 once again did not look like a cohesive team.
Honorable mention to Matthew ‘Zeevoo’ Herbout, who once again put up a stellar performance, a 1.31 rating which is the third highest at the moment despite being out of his team.
16-12 atoms pic.twitter.com/XGmXCI6XxF
— Intel® Extreme Masters (@IEM) 8 July 2022
Group B went much as expected, with FaZe and Astralis taking two places in the upper bracket. Despite winning more than ten rounds in all their six maps, FaZe did not miss a single one of them and went on to win all their series 2–0. This is a good sign for the defending Major champions as they are half-hearted since their win at the PGL Antwerp. Russell ‘Twitz’ van Dulken is having a good time once again, but this time in Cologne we saw all the FaZe members shine at least once or twice.
Astralis managed to defeat Cloud 9 to secure the quarter spot, thanks mostly to Kristian ‘k0nfig’ Wiencke and the always-consistent Fault F. On the other hand, C9 failed in his task even after his second chance in the Lower Bracket. Sergei ‘x1le’ Rykhtorov and Dmitry ‘sh1ro’ Sokolov were both playing well, but the shocker came from Vladislav ‘Naphny’ Gorshkov, who had a 1-kill in round 24 against Astralis.
Then we saw a Lower Bracket run from Team Liquid who are participating in the event with stand-in Marex ‘Yekinder’ Gasinskis. It is rumored that YEKINDAR will join TL full time at some point after Cologne and if this incident is any indication, it will be for the good of the roster as it is having a clear positive effect on them. We saw this effect most of all on Jonathan ‘Eligee’ Jablonowski, who had a 1.27 rating in 10 games. His 44-kill game against 00NATION in a double-overtime game was a reminder of his past performances.
Quarterfinals, July 15
- Astralis vs. MoUZ – 15:30 (CEST)
- Movistar Riders vs. Team Liquid – 19:00 (CEST)
Semifinals, July 16
- Natus Vincere vs Astralis/MoUZ – 15:30 (CEST)
- FaZe Klan vs. Movistar/Liquid – 19:00 (CEST)
Grand Final, July 17
- TBD vs TBD – 16:00 (CEST)
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