Complexity Gaming, Team Spirit, Fnatic and IHC Esports earned victories Friday to claim the final four spots in this weekend's group stage of the Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland.
Fnatic pulled off the day's only sweep in a 2-0 win over MIBR, while the other trio of victors advanced via three-map triumphs. Complexity downed ENCE, Spirit ousted Sprout and IHC eliminated FURIA Esports, all by 2-1 final scores.
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 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.
On Friday, Complexity opened with a 16-13 win on Anubis before ENCE evened the match with a 16-11 victory on Vertigo. Complexity closed the match decisively, cruising to a 16-8 win on Inferno. American Michael "Grim" Wince led all players with 68 kills while teammate Hakon "hallzerk" Fjaerli had a match-high plus-22 kills-to-deaths differential.
Spirit destroyed Sprout to open their battle, taking Overpass by a 16-4 score. But Sprout fought right back, earned a 16-6 win on Vertigo. But Spirit's 11-2 run helped clinch a 16-10 win on Anubis for the match. Russia's Robert "Patsi" Isyanov led Spirit with 56 kills and a plus-15 K-D differential.
The day's tightest match featured IHC and FURIA. The first map went to IHC, which rallied from a 10-6 deficit for a 16-14 win on Nuke. FURIA showed grit on Mirage, when down to match point trailing 15-11 they forced overtime in a thrilling 19-16 victory. IHC used a match-ending 10-1 run to win 16-10 on Anubis to take the match. Tengis "sk0R" Batjargal led the all-Mongolian IHC crew with 68 kills, with FURIA's Kaike "KSCERATO" Cerato tallying 75.
Fnatic swarmed MIBR with a late 9-2 spurt to claim a 16-11 win on Vertigo, then jumped to an insurmountable 11-1 lead in taking their sweep by virtue of a 16-9 win on Overpass. A quartet of Fnatic players topped 30 kills in the victory, with Sweden's Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson leading with 39.
The group stage begins with six matches on Saturday -- all upper-bracket quarterfinal duels.
--Team Liquid vs. IHC Esports
--Cloud9 vs. Natus Vincere
--G2 Esports vs. BIG
--Team Spirit vs. FaZe Clan
--OG vs. MOUZ
--Team Vitality vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas
Intel Extreme Masters Katowice prize pool
1. $400,000, berth in IEM Cologne
17-20. $4,500 -- ENCE, Sprout, MIBR, FURIA Esports
21-24. $2,500 -- Permitta Esports, Evil Geniuses, Grayhound Gaming, paiN Gaming
--Field Level Media