With the group stage now behind us, four quarter-finalists and two semi-finalists have painted a picture for what's to come in the playoffs as teams are now dialed in on the hunt for a share of the $750,000 prize-pool.
Astralis and Natus Vincere sail through the group stage
mousesports came into the quarterfinals securing a pair of 2-0 victories over Heroic and NRG, while Team Liquid earned the opportunity by simply staying afloat through the Group B upper bracket with a 2-0 win over Space Soldiers, despite falling to the Danes of Astralis in the upper-bracket final. On the other side, SK Gaming booked their spot in the playoffs, scraping by OpTic Gaming in a three-map series and will now go head-to-head against FaZe Clan. The two heavyweight teams each with one new face in the lineup ready to kick off the best-of-three at 4:55 p.m. est.
The Danes of Astralis and Natus Vincere will have an extra day off because they did not lose a single series through their respective group stage. Astralis went through the group stage without dropping a single map against the likes of SK Gaming, OpTic Gaming, and Team Liquid. Natus Vincere dominated MVP PK for the win before giving up one map to Heroic, but before beating FaZe Clan 2-0 to reach the semifinals.
Advancing: Team Liquid & FaZe Clan
Kicking off the quarterfinals will be mousesports and Team Liquid, two teams that had to fight for survival in their respective groups lower-bracket series. Chris “chrisJ” de Jong and company have been somewhat shaky from the start with their best-of-one against the Brazilians of Sharks before being stomped by FaZe Clan in the following best-of-three, putting the German-based team in survival mode. Although the series resulted with a slated 2-0 victory over both NRG and Heroic, mousesports have given up a lot of room to their opponents who came to close results, but mouz have yet to come across Dust2 in the map pool.
Team Liquid looked solid coming out of the group stage with a comfortable 16-5 win over Grayhound, before moving on against Space Soldiers in a best-of-three sweep across Mirage and Inferno. In the upper-bracket final, Team Liquid went toe-to-toe with Astralis, who walked over Nick “nitr0” Cannella and company to claim the first semifinal spot. Team Liquid is still trying to fine-tune the adjustments with Epitacio “TACO” de Melo taking the support role for the team.
The other quarterfinal will be an exciting heavyweight matchup with FaZe Clan and SK Gaming. The two teams currently have new names in their lineup, and it has devolved into an adjustment period in recent months. The most significant impact to FaZe Clan was losing Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, replacing him with Richard “Xizt” Landstrom; however, the results have been rather good after the changeup. A relatively mundane run through the group stage to earn a playoff spot at the ESL Pro League Finals reaffirms what we started to see after the team won IEM Sydney with Xizt - this team still has the depth to win titles.
SK Gaming, on the other hand, has taken several measures to get their team into form once again with David “coldzera” Marcelo taking the reins, while Jake “stewie2k” Yip is still trying to find his groove. SK have shown some improvements and structure as the team prevailed through the lower-bracket following a convincing win over Renegades, and besting OpTic Gaming in a tight three-map series to clinch their spot in the quarterfinals.
Advancing: Astralis & Natus Vincere
Through the quarterfinals, we painted a semifinal picture with Team Liquid going head-to-head with Natus V, while on the other side of the bracket Astralis will seek revenge over FaZe Clan after their IEM Sydney showdown.
Natus Vincere has been red-hot coming through the group stage taking down their opponents in dramatic fashion, including three-maps against Heroic and a sweep over FaZe Clan to earn their spot in the semifinal. Natus Vincere has been producing positive results from individual plays made by Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Denis “electronic” Sharipov to pave the way for a semifinal berth.
Astralis will see FaZe Clan in the semifinals after their last meeting at IEM Sydney where Finn “karrigan” Andersen and the rest of the lineup wiped out their opposition in three maps during the best-of-five grand final. The Danes seemed to have shaken the loss off as team coach Danny “zonic” Sorensen has introduced new ways of utilizing utilities for the team, which has paid off with Astralis. However Astralis may need more than that to beat FaZe Clan.
The first quarterfinal is set to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET with Team Liquid and mousesports starting the action as later in the day FaZe Clan and SK Gaming will clash for a spot in the semis.