Heroic and Team Vitality earned Group B semifinal victories on Monday, advancing to the upper-bracket final at the Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland.
In other Group B action on Monday, Complexity and Outsiders pulled out three-map wins to remain alive to reach the lower-bracket semifinals. Meanwhile in Group A, FaZe Clan and Team Liquid won to set up a duel in the lower-bracket final.
The $1 million Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament began Wednesday with the 16-team, double-elimination play-in stage to determine the final eight spots in the group stage. First-round play-in matches consisted of a single map, while all other play-in matches were best-of-three.
The four teams that advanced on Wednesday -- BIG, OG, Ninjas in Pyjamas and Cloud9 -- joined the eight teams that were already seeded into the group stage: Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, Heroic, MOUZ, Team Vitality and Outsiders.
Group play will run from Saturday through Tuesday, with two eight-team groups competing in a double-elimination format of best-of-three matches. The two group winners advance to the semifinals of the single-elimination playoffs. The two group runners-up go to the playoff quarterfinals as high seeds, and the third-place teams from each group head to the playoff quarterfinals as low seeds.
The best-of-three quarterfinals are scheduled for Feb. 10, and the best-of-three semifinals are set for Feb. 11. The winner of the best-of-five grand final on Feb. 12 will earn $400,000 and a berth in the $1 million IEM Cologne event scheduled for July 25-Aug. 6 in Germany.
Heroic earned the only Group B sweep out of four Monday matches with a 2-0 victory over OG. On the opening map (Inferno), Heroic used separate 8-1 and 8-2 runs to cruise to a 16-10 win. OG led 7-2 early on Mirage and later went up 12-10 before Heroic tallied the final six points for a match-clinching 16-12 triumph. Jakob "jabbi" Nygaard had 43 kills and Casper "cadiaN" Moller posted 40 for the all-Danish Heroic squad, with both notching plus-11 kills-to-deaths differentials.
Vitality opened by besting Fnatic 16-13 on Overpass before Fnatic responded by claiming Mirage 16-8, powered by a 14-0 surge. With the match even at 1-1, Vitality trailed 9-6 midway through Nuke action before winning 16-13 for the 2-1 victory. France's Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut topped all players with 74 kills and a plus-27 K-D ratio.
In the group's lower bracket, Complexity took Inferno 16-9 before MOUZ jumped to a 6-0 lead on Nuke and held on for a 16-12 win to even the match. In a back-and-forth final map, Complexity scored the final five points in claiming Ancient 16-12 for the match win. Complexity's Hakon "hallzerk" Fjaerli of Norway dominated with 80 kills and a plus-35 K-D ratio.
After getting crushed 16-5 on Vertigo to start their match, Outsiders rallied against Ninjas in Pyjamas for a reverse sweep -- winning 16-12 on Overpass and 16-9 on Inferno. Evgenii "FL1T" Lebedev and Aleksandr "KaiR0N-" Anashkin -- both from Russia -- led Outsiders with 56 kills apiece while Ukraine's Daniil "headtr1ck" Valitov topped all players with 63 kills for Ninjas in Pyjamas.
In Group A's lower-bracket semis, FaZe swept IHC Esports 2-0, taking Inferno (16-11) and Ancient (16-3) in the process. Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken of Canada paced all players with 41 kills as all five FaZe players finished with positive K-D differentials.
FaZe will next face Team Liquid, which dumped Team Spirit 2-1. Starting on Nuke, Liquid nearly blew a 15-6 lead before winning 16-12. Spirit tied things up with a 16-13 victory on Overpass, but Liquid moved on by rallying to win 16-11 on Anubis. American Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski recorded a team-high 65 kills for Liquid, while Josh "oSee" Ohm of the United States tallied a plus-19 K-D ratio.
The action picks up again Tuesday with six more matches:
--Natus Vincere vs. G2 Esports (Group A upper-bracket final)
--FaZe Clan vs. Team Liquid (Group A lower-bracket final)
--Heroic vs. Team Vitality (Group B upper-bracket final)
--Fnatic vs. Complexity (Group B lower-bracket semifinal)
--OG vs. Outsiders (Group B lower-bracket semifinal)
--Fnatic/Complexity winner vs. OG/Outsiders winner (Group B lower-bracket final)
Intel Extreme Masters Katowice prize pool:
1. $400,000, berth in IEM Cologne
9-12. $16,000 -- IHC Esports, Team Spirit, TBD, TBD
13-16. $10,000 -- Cloud9, BIG, MOUZ, Ninjas in Pyjamas
17-20. $4,500 -- ENCE, Sprout, MIBR, FURIA Esports
21-24. $2,500 -- Permitta Esports, Evil Geniuses, Grayhound Gaming, paiN Gaming
--Field Level Media