The first round of Group A is in the bag at IEM Katowice, the biggest event of 2020 thus far in terms of tier-one teams, and it’s been mostly sweeps. Three of the four matches didn’t see a third map, but fans certainly weren’t disappointed by the one that did.
The event opened up with Astralis taking on the North American side of Cloud9. The two were set to clash on Overpass, picked by Cloud9, and Train, which was Astralis’ choice. Known for being strong on Overpass in recent months, Cloud9 was no match for the Danes and fell 16-7 to go down 0-1 and move into Astralis’ pick. No player on Cloud9 would finish with a positive record on Overpass.
Things would go better on Train with Cloud9 picking up an additional five rounds, but it wouldn’t be enough as Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth put up a strong +14 kill-to-death differential alongside 109 average damage per round to help the Danes seal the victory.
Team Vitality was up against Ninjas in Pyjamas in their opener and while it was closer than the previous match by a few rounds, Vitality was too strong for the Ninjas to overcome. In a somewhat odd match, it was Alex “ALEX” McMeekin, the team’s in-game leader, who was most deadly in the series. ALEX netted a +18 k/d differential and 102.2 ADR to lead even Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut in kills and damage.
It nearly all came on the second map, Nuke, however as ALEX had a +14 record and 122.4 ADR. ZywOo did his work on the previous map where he had 100.6 ADR, although it wasn’t even the highest in the server with Tim “nawwk” Jonasson of NiP putting up 107.2 in his team’s loss.
The Swedes of fnatic took on Renegades to kick off the event and the first map was brutal. Renegades elected to pick Dust2 as their playground and it would be far from that as fnatic crushed the Australian side 16-4. Jesper “JW” Wecksell was certainly enjoying himself as he cruised to a 21-9 record and 109.8 ADR.
Inferno would be a test, however, as Renegades battled back and pushed it to the distance of all 30 rounds. Ultimately fnatic would close it out and walk away with the 2-0 but not before Renegades made the Swedes a little nervous about the possibility of a third map. Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin and JW would top the scoreboard with +19 and +21 records respectively.
The only map to go the full three maps, FaZe Clan vs. Natus Vincere was a battle of insane talent. With players like Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Denis “electronic” Sharipov, Marcelo “coldzera” David, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, and more.
It was FaZe who would strike first with a convincing 16-9 victory over Nuke thanks to a strong team effort. Only Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard would walk away with a negative record after the first map and the remaining players being between +2 and +9.
The second map would be a walk in the park for neither team as they would battle neck and neck till the end, tieing at 14-14 before Natus Vincere would pull away. It was Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy who put the nail in the coffin, winning a 1v2 at 15-14 to force the third map, Overpass.
Overpass would start off heavily favoring FaZe. The international mix looked like they were running away with it before Na’Vi found their footing on the attack. A 9-6 half would give Na’Vi a chance to get back into the game in the second half and they capitalized on it with a big streak to open it up. Following up a pistol round victory seven more rounds to give them a 14-9 lead before FaZe could pick up their 10th round. That would be the end of FaZe’s success though as they would lose the follow up round and be unable to pick up the next and therefore lose the map and series.