Ninjas in Pyjamas cruise into IEM Katowice group stage

BIG, OG, Ninjas in Pyjamas and Cloud9 each won two matches on Wednesday to advance to the group stage of the Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland.

The $1 million Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament began Wednesday with the 16-team, double-elimination play-in stage, which will determine the last eight spots in the group stage. First-round play-in matches consisted of a single map, while all other play-in matches are best-of-three.

The four teams that advanced on Wednesday join 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 runs 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.

In Wednesday action, BIG beat Complexity 16-12 on Anubis before rallying past FURIA Esports 2-1. FURIA took Anubis 16-11, but BIG came back to claim Mirage 16-9 and Ancient 16-9. Nils “k1to” Gruhne paced BIG’s all-German roster against FURIA with 70 kills and a plus-15 kill-death differential.

OG needed overtime to slip past Sprout 19-16 on Inferno, then came from behind to defeat Fnatic 2-1. After Fnatic’s 16-11 victory on Overpass, OG prevailed 16-6 on Mirage and 16-8 on Inferno. Israel’s Shahar “flameZ” Shushan logged 53 kills and a plus-15 K-D differential for OG against Fnatic.

Ninjas in Pyjamas topped MIBR 16-13 on Nuke, then swept Team Spirit 2-0, winning 16-7 on Nuke and 16-8 on Mirage. Ukraine’s Daniil “headtr1ck” Valitov compiled 37 kills and a plus-17 K-D differential for Ninjas in Pyjamas versus Spirit.

Cloud9 routed IHC Esports 16-5 on Mirage, then defeated ENCE 2-1. After Cloud9 took Anubis 16-10, ENCE equalized with a 16-8 victory on Inferno. On the decisive third map, Vertigo, Cloud9 overturned a 12-8 deficit and earned a 16-13 win. Russia’s Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov registered 61 kills and a plus-20 K-D differential for Cloud9 against ENCE.

In other Wednesday first-round action, FURIA defeated Permitta Esports 16-4 on Mirage, Fnatic got past Evil Geniuses 16-8 on Inferno, Spirit downed Grayhound Gaming 16-6 on Nuke and ENCE battled past paiN Gaming 16-7 on Vertigo.

The Thursday lower-bracket schedule:
–Permitta Esports vs. Complexity, winner to face ENCE on Friday
–Evil Geniuses vs. Sprout, winner to face Team Spirit on Friday
–Grayhound Gaming vs. MIBR, winner to face Fnatic on Friday
–paiN Gaming vs. IHC Esports, winner to face FURIA Esports on Friday

Intel Extreme Masters Katowice prize pool
1. $400,000, berth in IEM Cologne
2. $180,000
3-4. $80,000
5-6. $40,000
7-8. $24,000
9-12. $16,000
13-16. $10,000
17-20. $4,500
21-24. $2,500

–Field Level Media

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