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Counter Strike Global Offensive (CSGO)

Natus Vincere, Astralis advance atop Group A at IEM Cologne

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Natus Vincere pulled off a stirring comeback and were later joined by Astralis in advancing in Group B upper-bracket play Saturday at the $1 million Intel Extreme Masters Season XVI – Cologne.

Na’Vi dropped the opening map against Team Vitality before battling back for a 2-1 victory, while Astralis overcame Heroic in a 2-0 sweep. The two victors advanced to Sunday’s upper-bracket final, with the winner clinching a spot in the playoff bracket.

On the heels of another 2-1 comeback win over Renegades a day earlier, Vitality led 10-3 and held on to take the first map 16-14 on Overpass. But Na’Vi stormed back for convincing map wins on Nuke (16-5) and Mirage (16-10).

Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy of Russia led a balanced Natus Vincere attack with a team-best 58 kills, tying with teammate Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev of Ukraine with a plus-13 kills-to-deaths differential.

Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut topped the all-French Vitality squad with a match-high 59 kills along with a plus-9 K/D differential.

Fueled by separate 7-1 and 8-1 runs, Astralis took their opening map 16-11 on Inferno. Astralis then pulled off eight consecutive points in taking control of their second map, moving on via a 16-12 final score on Overpass.

In a battle of all-Denmark lineups, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen starred for Astralis with 53 kills and a plus-20 K/D mark — tops among both teams. Martin “stavn” Lund led Heroic with 42 kills in a losing effort.

Also in Group B Saturday, FURIA Esports earned a 2-0 sweep over Renegades in lower-bracket action. FURIA will next take on Heroic in an elimination match on Sunday.

FURIA pulled away for a 16-9 map win on Inferno before delivering the knockout blow to Renegades, a 16-11 decision on Nuke. Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato led the way for the all-Brazilian FURIA team with 51 kills and a plus-19 K/D differential, both best in the match.

Simon “Sico” Williams carried the load for the New-Zealand-dominated Renegades unit with 43 kills and a plus-8 K/D ratio.

FaZe Clan lost their opening map before they came from behind to oust Team Spirit in a 2-1 victory. Spirit used a 10-1 run for a comeback 16-11 win on Overpass to open the match, but FaZe sported an early 11-0 spurt and won 16-13 on Inferno, then won 16-10 on Vertigo to move on.

Canadian Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken carried FaZe with a 72 kills and a plus-20 K/D/ differential, with Russian Abdul “degster” Gasanov topped Spirit with 70 kills and a plus-27 K/D ratio.

FaZe will play Vitality on Sunday for a chance to battle later in the deciding match in the lower bracket against the winner of the Heroic/FURIA match.

In one of two Group A matches Saturday, both in the lower bracket, BIG beat Team Liquid 2-0 and Virtus.pro swept Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-0 to set up Sunday’s BIG vs. Virtus.pro matchup with a playoff spot on the line.

BIG won 16-11 on Vertigo, then came back from five separate deficits to triumph 16-13 on Nuke to eliminate Liquid. Germany’s Florian “syrsoN” Rische topped BIG with a match-high 47 kills and plus-18 K/D ratio, as American Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski leading Liquid with 42 kills.

Virtus.pro celebrated map wins on Ancient (16-9) and Inferno (16-11) to succeed over NiP. Timur “buster” Tulepov of Kazakhstan posted 45 kills and a plus-14 K/D differential for Virtus.pro, while Sweden’s Fredrik “REZ” Sterner recorded 42 kills for NiP.

The group stage will run through Sunday, with two groups of eight teams competing in double-elimination brackets. The top three clubs from each group will advance to the playoffs July 16-18. Eight of the 16 group stage teams directly qualified before the tournament, while eight more advanced via the play-in stage held Tuesday and Wednesday.

The tournament marks the first competitive CS:GO event played on LAN in roughly 16 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the teams are facing off in person, they are in a studio setting as opposed to an arena with fans.

Six matches are scheduled for Sunday:

–Gambit Esports vs. G2 Esports (Group A upper bracket third round)

–BIG vs. Virtus.pro (Group A lower bracket third round)

–Natus Vincere vs. Astralis (Group B upper bracket third round)

–Heroic vs. FURIA Esports (Group B lower bracket second round)

–Team Vitality vs. FaZe Clan (Group B lower bracket second round)

–Heroic/FURIA Esports winner vs. Team Vitality/FaZe Clan winner (Group B lower bracket third round)

Intel Extreme Masters Season XVI – Cologne prize money, Pro Tour points, BLAST Premier Points:

  1. $400,000, 1,800 Pro Tour points, 3,200 BLAST points — TBD

  2. $180,000, 1,400 Pro Tour points, 1,600 BLAST points — TBD

3-4. $80,000, 1,100 Pro Tour points, 1,000 BLAST points — TBD

5-6. $40,000, 825 Pro Tour points, 400 BLAST points — TBD

7-8. $24,000, 575 Pro Tour points, 200 BLAST points — TBD

9-12. $16,000, 325 Pro Tour points, no BLAST points — Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, TBD

13-16. $10,000, 125 Pro Tour points, no BLAST points — mousesports, Complexity Gaming, Renegades, Team Spirit

17-20. $4,500, 60 Pro Tour points, no BLAST points — Team LDLC, OG, Sprout, Evil Geniuses

21-24. $2,500, no points — Bad News Bears, MIBR, Team One, ViCi Gaming

–Field Level Media

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