Theoretically, 1pm on the third day of the Major qualifiers is an awkward time to write a column. As I write this intro, the first map of Vici vs Vitality just finished with an overtime win for the French team.
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We started with 24 teams and now we’re down to just eight. With a $1 million prize pool on offer, the atmosphere at this Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament is sure to only get crazier from here.
BIG vs Natus Vincere
The journey of these two teams at this major could hardly be more different. BIG started in the challenger stage, going 1-2 in their opening games, needing wins over Gambit and Optic to secure a legends spot.
From there, the Germans found a whole new level. Their opening match in stage two saw them humiliate Faze, 16-5, before taking out Tyloo. A second loss to Complexity kept things interesting, but they bounced back against HellRaisers to secure a playoff spot.
Na’Vi went straight to legends from the beginning, but had a tougher opening game. They fought valiantly, but went down 16-14 to the best team in the world. A 16-12 win over Faze in the next game reminded everyone that the Ukrainians are a real threat, however, and comfortable wins over NiP and Fnatic only served to underline that.
I make no secret of my love for BIG, and it would be great to see a Brit make it even further at this event, but Na’Vi is 9-3 against BIG in all competitions and I can’t see the trend changing.
Expect a good game, and a close series, but also expect a victory for the Ukrainians.
compLexity vs MIBR
Oh boy, what year is it? These two organisations go back a long way – at least their names do, though this MIBR has almost nothing in common with the original. All of the players from the 1.6 era teams have moved on, too, but this is still a mouth-watering nostalgia trip for us old-timers.
But there’s so much to this game than “ooh, remember Fr0d and cogu?” This is a fascinating series in its own right, regardless of the historical context.
The current MIBR roster is still trying to get back to its previous standing as one of the best teams in the world. They have been through the wringer already at this tournament, with an embarrassing 16-0 loss to Astralis and a somewhat unexpected defeat to Tyloo.
compLexity, on the other hand, came out of nowhere to take the tournament by storm. They have been exciting and invigorating – a real dark horse.
After a heavy but not unexpected defeat to Astralis in their opening game, the Americans (and a Brit) went on an undefeated run to the playoffs.
En route, they took down BIG (twice), Fnatic and G2. In fact, you could argue that coL is currently the in-form team at this event.
This one could really go either way, but I give compLexity the edge based on their results thus far and the fact that MIBR still doesn’t look completely convincing.
Team Liquid vs HellRaisers
Not all quarter-finals are created equal, and I’m somewhat afraid that this will be a one-sided affair. HellRaisers have been an enjoyable breath of fresh air, with Issaa looking like one of the bet players at the tournament.
But when they came up against Team Liquid earlier in the event, the 16-9 scoreline was an apt reflection of the American side’s superiority.
One result doesn’t mean HR has no chance, but Liquid has looked like the better team across the tournament. They are undefeated for one thing, including an overtime victory over tournament favourites, Astralis.
Hellraisers are not undefeated and they have had to scrap and scrape for almost every single win: the majority of their wins came in overtime.
The multinational team saved its best till last, beating the Swedes 16-2 in the final map of the qualifying series, but I just can’t see them repeating such a performance against Liquid.
Fnatic have looked shaky all tournament, and susceptible to an upset like this. Liquid, conversely, have not.
Astralis vs FaZe Clan
Although the MIBR-coL fixture might be my personal favourite quarter-final, this is what everyone really wants to see. This is top of the card, the last fight of the night.
The once and would-be kings of the world versus the current top dogs. It’s just a shame there is no title on the line but it’s still a bout that fans around the world will tune in to see.
Neither team comes into this match unbruised by the earlier rounds. Indeed, Faze started out 0-2 after losing to BIG and Na’Vi.
While Astralis may have qualified with a ridiculous 16-0 win, they, too, have accrued losses already.
The fact that both teams have been thoroughly tested already, and the fact that one of them is going home earlier than expected only adds to the high drama of an already exciting fixture.
The bookies have Astralis as heavy favourites, and the Danes narrowly lead the lifetime head-to-head (23-19), but I think this one is extremely close.
A strong performance from Niko could swing the balance, but Device can easily swing it back the other way.
I don’t know who will win this game, but I do know I can’t wait to find out.