EU and CIS Minor Round-Up - Playoffs
North fought back twice from losing positions on Nuke and then Dust II to move into the Upper Bracket Final in the EU Minor, taking Vitality down 2-0. Meanwhile, it wasn’t all easy for ENCE, but they ground out a 2-1 victory over an impressive Valiance side, who play Vitality to survive tomorrow.
Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut started Nuke on fire, dropping over 20 kills in the first half alone. It was a back-and-forth start with both sides taking four apiece from the first eight, but then ZywOo took over, ripping North apart with 13 AWP kills as North’s T-side ground to a halt. With an 11-4 lead at half time, even going into the T-side of Nuke, the odds heavily favoured the French side. However, despite losing the second pistol round, North broke the economy in the second round of the half again, and that led to a string of 11 consecutive rounds for the Danes. Vitality’s bizarre insistence on running dry into the A site fed Nicklas ‘gade’ Gade and Philip ‘aizy’ Aistrup some of the easiest kills they’ll ever have. North had come back to 15-12 from 4-12, and even though Vitality did eventually grab two rounds back, North converted the final round to take the first map.
On Dust II, Nathan ‘NBK-’ Schmitt tore into the North defence early on after another gritty start, taking the Danes by storm with his explosive catwalk plays. North were left with tough decisions, as they elected to save four times early on into the counter-terrorist half. Vitality had found the chink in North’s armour, on the B site, and they were determined to pry it open. From a 3-2 start, North once again found themselves heavily behind, 3-9, and NBK- was sitting on a healthy 12 frags. . They grabbed themselves two of the last three counter-terrorist rounds to make it 10-5, but even going into their T-side, which is often easier on Dust II, few people would have backed them. However, North had a plan - Blitzkrieg.
Three B rushes later, North found themselves 11-7 down, and even lost the subsequent round, making it 12-7 to Vitality. The B weakness, however, was a gaping wound, and in their attempts to bandage it, Vitality weakened the A defence, and North found the gap. North won the next eight rounds as they punished all the weaknesses they found. It was Casper ‘cadiaN’ Møller who was the hero for North, finding consistent opening picks and calming down ZywOo, who was nowhere to be seen on Dust II. As Vitality tried to offset the B weakness with aggression, they walked into the walking arms of cadiaN. Valdemar ‘valde’ Bjørn Vangså won an impossible clutch that really cemented that it wasn’t the French team’s day, taking down ZywOo with one second left on the clock, and then lurked through a smoke to wipe out Alex ‘ALEX’ McMeekin in the dying rounds. 16-12 to North as they converted the final eight rounds flawlessly.
Valiance shocked ENCE on Dust II, which was ENCE’s pick, not least thanks to some ludicrous rifle work from Nemanja ‘huNter’ Kovač, who notably genocided four Finns in a 2v5, guillotining three on elbow before turning his attention to CT and finding a fourth. He was backed up by his fellow Serb Nestor ‘LETN1’ Tanić, who held strong on B site with his AUG twice, with a three kill and four kills on separate full buy rounds. Despite Dust II being T sided in the earlier game, ENCE only got five in the first half of their own map, and there was to be no comeback. Nemanja 'nexa' Isaković found picks all over the map, and Valiance shocked ENCE 16-9.
Valiance looked set to have a great half as they strung rounds together early on but an ingenious 1v3 from Sami ‘xseveN’ Laasanen put ENCE back in the game. huNter was once again a thorn in ENCE’s side as he found pick after pick, but under the guidance of Aleksi ‘allu’ Jalli and his trusty AWP, ENCE got a foothold in the game. After losing the CT pistol, ENCE gave themselves a great chance to steal the round back, but were denied by LETN1 who won a crucial 1v2. With their backs against the wall, 10-7 down, ENCE rallied back and a ridiculous ace from Jani ‘Aerial’ Jussila turned a 2v5 into a won round. The Finnish side took six rounds in a row, with Jere ‘sergej’ Salo mopping up three in a clutch in the 23rd round. ENCE would only drop one more round on their way to a 16-11 victory, breaking their opponents on their map pick.
Despite Valiance’s great start, with Rokas ‘EspiranTo’ Milasauskas pinging three headshots and Nemanja ‘NEXA’ Isaković following up with an ace, ENCE took nine terrorist rounds on Train, a map that is usually heavily CT sided. At 0-3, it was sergej again who opened up the round with four Tec-9 kills, something of a nostalgic overload for Valiance. ENCE capitalised, dropping only one of the next six rounds and immediately resetting Valiance when they did win. Aerial’s disgusting triumvirate of entries cracked open the A site at 7-5 put ENCE in a commanding position going into the easier CT side.
EspiranTo grabbed himself a second pistol triple, turning a 2v4 into a Valiance win, but the resistance was ultimately futile. Once ENCE got on the guns, Valiance couldn’t deal with allu’s AWP, and the veteran led his inexperienced team into tomorrow’s Upper Bracket Final.
In the CIS Minor, it was the Alexey ‘qikert’ Golubev show as he averaged well over 100 damage per round in a brutal takedown of a disappointing Team Spirit, as AVANGAR cruised into the Upper Bracket Final. Elsewhere, Winstrike completed a surprise 2-1 victory over the CIS giants of Gambit, much in part due to the heroics of Georgy ‘WorldEdit’ Yaskin.
Winstrike started off their own map pick, Cache, in the zone. Kirill ‘Boombl4’ Mikhailov got one of the clips of the day, as he hosed down two through squeaky door and took two more on his way to hell, planting Winstrike firmly into the driver’s seat, 11-4 at the half. However, it’s hard to drive properly when your axles aren’t playing ball, and Sergey ‘Ax1Le’ Rykhtorov wasn’t having any of it as he tapped out three in the CT pistol. Gambit took the next two rounds, but Aurimas ‘kvik’ Kvakšys drove a proverbial stake through their heart, as he, armed with just a Desert Eagle, lurked onto B to sell a fake, but instead found three kills in a 2v3 to win the round. That joy was shortlived, though; Gambit won seven of the first nine rounds in the second half, bringing it back to 13-11 in favour of Winstrike. Winstrike had been mowed down coming up highway to A but smelt blood in middle, as they burst out again into middle and this time, Boombl4 found an opening and Winstrike strangled Gambit out twice. Despite Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov nailing down B with the FAMAS, it was the B site that Winstrike decided to hit in the decisive round, with David ‘n0rb3r7’ Danielyan plowing through and taking three carcasses with him as they took the lead 1-0 in the series.
Gambit went into their own pick and looked tuned in, taking an early 4-1 lead with Winstrike on eco. WorldEdit had other ideas, with his outrageous Desert Eagle triad on B site somehow saving the round. On his own in water, he hit two pixel-deep headshots on terrorists rushing out monster, before completing the trinity on short, taking Mihail ‘Dosia’ Stolyarov out. A galvanised Winstrike suddenly looked able to stop the B hits from Gambit. Having drawn the score at 4-4, Boombl4 won a bizarre 1v2 retaking B from heaven, putting Winstrike into the lead, and with no sign of let-up. Winstrike converted their lead into a 10-5 half, before taking the first two rounds of the T half.
But once again, it was the story of the B site, as Winstrike repeatedly hit B to no avail, feeding the impervious mir more and more frags. No matter what they tried, Winstrike found resistance, and it was Ax1Le who held down the A site in the final round, with Winstrike only winning one more round after being 12-5 up.
WorldEdit’s pistols were on point all series, and he grabbed himself three in the opening round of Dust II - he even bought himself an AWP in the second round, which is more than a little bit unorthodox. However, he made it sing in the next few rounds, bagging himself seven kills in two rounds, bringing him to a 10-0 total. A quick kvik triple took Winstrike into a 4-0 start, but Gambit roared back with four of their own, eventually culminating in an 8-6 lead for Winstrike. Dosia, who was Gambit’s highest rated player on Dust II, was the hero in the final round, winning a 1v2 post plant.
The second half was close the whole way through, but eventually Winstrike on the T side strung some rounds together, and at 15-12 it all looked done and dusted, if you’ll pardon the pun. But then Ax1Le once again wreaked havoc, cleaning up three on B, then Dosia again pulled out a huge round, finding a three-piece of his own. Overtime beckoned, but it was anticlimactic. The Winstrike side who had been so hit and miss on the T-side found their ruthless streak, and swept Gambit 3-0 on the terrorist side, and won the map 19-16.
Speaking of anti climaxes, AVANGAR walked all over a powerless Team Spirit. On Spirit’s map pick, Overpass, they managed five T rounds - which in and of itself isn’t terrible, but when you lose six out of seven CT rounds, it is. qikert bagged himself a pistol round ace in the second half, nailing all five rotating CTs, but Spirit’s woes were personified by Viktor ‘somedieyoung’ Orudjev, who whiffed on qikert looking the wrong way and was met with a swift 180 decapitation. Even when Spirit took down the otherwise unstoppable qikert, Aidyn ‘KrizzeN’ Turlybekov won a 1v2 at 13-6 to put a nail in the Spirit coffin.
Such was the consistency of AVANGAR, on both maps the scoreboard was in the same order, with qikert again crushing the dreams of Spirit on Dust II. Ali ‘Jame’ Djami went 18-9 and then 19-8, and Bektiyar ‘fitch’ Bahytov and Timur ‘buster’ Tulepov close behind. qikert had well over 100 ADR on both maps, and he was paramount in AVANGAR’s backbone, taking 12 rounds on their CT side. Despite losing the pistol, AVANGAR took four in a row to complete a one-sided victory over the disappointing Team Spirit, who will need to be much better if they want to take out Gambit tomorrow.