Cover Image Courtesy: Intel Extreme Masters
The final two teams to make it to the New Challengers Stage for IEM Katowice 2019 have been booked. Winstrike Team took the easy route, winning two back-to-back BO1 match-ups to qualify through defeating both Envy followed by ViCi Gaming.
Whereas ViCi Gaming defeated North in the Semifinals but dropped down to the Lower Bracket to face them again in a revenge match-up. The BO3 series was intense, as a great struggle between the two teams resulted in ViCi claiming victory as they qualified onto the Main Event.
ViCi were absolute beasts in both the games. Sealing the deal in the first game by winning Inferno in a dominating manner was a treat in itself but the real icing on the cake was the resilience shown by the Chinese squad in their second outing of the day.
Going up against North on Dust 2 which was their own pick started-off a little bleak from ViCi but they were quick to counter as the next few rounds laid down the road towards a small lead by the halftime mark. ViCi suffered a bit in the start of the second half as well but kick-started their engine to take the game away from North.
It was unusual to see Advent sink down on the ratings yet again after opening the day on such a massive high but Freeman, Zhoking, Kaze and Auman stepped up to hold the line, all four attaining a rating of above 1.0.
North hoped to cause an upset on Inferno which was picked up by ViCi. It was the safest pick to go with having achieved success on it before as well. But the Chinese squad were in for a shocker as North raced ahead with a 10-round lead.
The switch was the turning point for ViCi who turned the match around taking it into overtime. Running a solid defence, they persevered through the rounds, thriving and building momentum in the high-pressure situation. On the verge of losing the first overtime, they drew it again, winning the one that followed it.
The trio of Kaze, Freeman and Zhoking were phenomenal, especially Kaze, who with the AWP was thinning down the North line-up with constant pick-offs all over the map.
Kjaerbye and Valde clutched so many rounds in favour of North but to no avail. The two were carrying the weight of five but could only do so much. North is missing something in their approach and it was clearly evident against this particular adversary. Hope they work on their problems soon and return back stronger.
With this, Winstrike and ViCi Gaming qualify on to the New Challengers Stage for IEM Katowice 2019.
This coming Major is surely going to be exciting, witnessing four Asian teams as a part of it along with having a greater number of Chinese players in attendance compared to Danish players.
All the ratings mentioned above in the article have been taken from HLTV.