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IEM Katowice Play-in Day 2 Review

Today’s Play-in gave 8 teams the chance to fight their way into the 4 final spots leading to Katowice’s Main Event. The field wasn’t as stacked as yesterday, but the change from Bo1 to exclusively BO3 spiced things up a bit, and most series were quite good to watch. 

The first round was four series of clean 2-0 sweeps. Wisla Krakow, Sprout, Renegades expectedly lost to their stronger opposition, the only possible surprise here was the result of MIBR’s match. The still hyped Brazilian team who came off of a tournament in which they won against the likes of Navi got convincingly dismantled by the Spanish team of Movistar Riders. The Brazilian region still had a representative though, since GODSENT got the better of Sprout. 

When Round 2 came around, series were much closer. NIP had the easiest series of the four, easily taking down the previously mentioned Spanish roster in two quick maps. Don’t get your hopes high, despite their win against MIBR, Movistar isn’t exactly fearsome opposition, and a NIP win here was expected despite the caveats. Had one of the closer series, winning over GODSENT in three maps. Spinx had a great series and Ence’s roster as a whole looked much more coordinated than the brazilians. 

MOUZ vs Entropiq had a misleading result. It looks like a very one sided series on paper, but Entropiq showed up extremely strong on Vertigo, which was picked by MOUZ, but the young and talented lineup closed out the game despite a very dangerous T-side from the russian team.. Dexter showed up massively on this map, leading the troops from the top of the scoreboard. Entropiq had multiple players razor-sharp, but MOUZ just played the T-side well enough to give enough of a leeway for their CT-side. 

The second map in Ancient was indeed a one-sided affair, and a return to the MOUZ of yesterday, which has looked great. torzsi and JDC, the ex-academy duo, absolutely smurfed the map with frozen sometimes chipping in. The CT-side start gave MOUZ the early lead and the international roster quickly closed the affair with an impressive T-side. Maybe what we’re seeing is purely a honeymoon phase for the team, but the fact that they’re this strong, especially with torzsi and JDC having consistently great performances, is impressive. 

Fnatic vs BIG wasn’t expected to be a close series, with the Germans looking quite strong so far and the Swedish/British mix not seeming so hot, but it was undoubtedly the match of the day. The first map started as most would’ve expected, a clinic from BIG dismantling fnatic on their own map pick: Ancient. The men in orange couldn’t catch a break for the entirety of their T-side, with k1to and syrsoN dismantling every single one of their attempts. Things were looking extremely bleak when the first half ended in a 3-12 smashing. 

Alas, not all was lost. Ancient is still the most CT-sided map in the pool, and fnatic don’t crack that easily. Off the back of mezii and Brollan, with KRIMZ securing his world famous clutches, Fnatic fought back to finish the second half with exactly the same score as BIG, taking the game to overtime. ALEX seemed to be insisting on aggressive plays and they kept on working. The entire team was pulling their weight, with the exception of the British Awper in smooya, who spent the entire game at the bottom of the table despite using the most expensive gun in the game.

The tides changed when Overtime came around. Fnatic continued their CT-side domination and, despite two very dangerous attacks from BIG, smooya showed up when it mattered the most and clutched the game for Fnatic. 

BIG still headed into the second map confidently, after all, Fnatic barely managed to win their own map pick. Their confidence was justified, but the Germans had to be feeling the nerves when fnatic brought a 5-10 game to 13-11, but they managed to close out the match with a clean spree of five rounds. Mezii and Brollan had a much weaker game and BIG just played the map better. 

The closely fought duel came to an end on Overpass, a much older map than the previous two. This feels like an important point, because fnatic dominated BIG off of a vintage performance from KRIMZ, who seemed unable to lose a clutch for the entirety of the map. Brollan played out of his mind yet again, but the swedish veteran is the true special weapon that gave fnatic a 13-2 half on their CT-Side. BIG came close to winning multiple rounds, but fnatic just kept stealing them back. 

It’s sad that we won’t see the german roster in Katowice, but MOUZ and fnatic especially look like very exciting rosters. Smooya needs to get back into shape and NBK needs to frag much higher than he is now, but both teams might mean danger for stronger opposition. 

With this, Katowice’s group stage is locked. The last four teams going through were: fnatic, ENCE, MOUZ, NIP. Tomorrow the main event begins, with the Group Stage giving the participating teams a chance to earn their place in the Spodek Arena.

Images via IEM/ESL.