By defeating Spirit 2-0 and mercilessly punishing the Russians’ Nuke selection (16-7), Ninjas in Pyjamas became the first team to advance to the IEM Katowice group stage. They then finished the series with a dominant performance against Mirage (16-8).
With a rating of 1.04 across the two maps, Kristian #k0nfig Wienecke appeared to have made significant progress from his prior performance against MIBR on Wednesday. In a post-game interview, the Dane claimed that the team had only had a half-worth day’s of rehearsal prior to the $1,000,000 challenge, which he blamed for his less-than-impressive performance on the opening day of competition.
Spirit, on the contrary, appeared uncomfortable during the entire series. By the end of the two-map series, every player on the roster had an average rating below 1.00, with Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov in particular finding it difficult to get going (0.66). Spirit will now have just one chance to advance to the top-16 round of the IEM Katowice tournament when they take on the victor of Friday’s best-of-three match between Evil Geniuses and Sprout at 16:00. Spirit, on the contrary, appeared uncomfortable during the entire series.
By the end of the two-map series, every player on the roster had an average rating below 1.00, with Igor #w0nderful Zhdanov in particular finding it difficult to get going (0.66). Spirit will now have just one chance to advance to the top-16 round of the IEM Katowice tournament when they take on the victor of Friday’s best-of-three match between Evil Geniuses and Sprout at 16:00 ECT.
To begin, the two teams fought it out on Spirit’s choice, Nuke. Fredrik #REZ Sterner’s back-to-back multi-kills helped Ninjas in Pyjamas win the opening two rounds of the series, but the Russians promptly matched them with four straight wins to take an early T-side lead. A double-kill hold from Aleksi #Aleksib at the A location In the eighth round, Virolainen gave the Nordic team a boost that propelled them forward for the remainder of the half, with Ninjas in Pyjamas finishing their defensive effort with a three-round lead.
The second half began with Ninjas in Pyjamas successfully attacking the A bombsite, and the multinational lineup quickly capitalized on their newly discovered economic dominance. Aleksib and company gave up just one more round on their way to a 16-7 victory. The team’s resolute victory on their opponents’ map of choice was made possible by shrewd usage of the map and an outstanding individual performance by the in-game captain himself (21-13 K-D).
The second map of the duel was Mirage, where Ninjas in Pyjamas won their third consecutive pistol round to continue their dominance. As the map developed, the European team furthered supported their selection by building a commanding 6-0 lead on the T-side, with REZ’s constant round-by-round influence serving as the key to the team’s early success.
Spirit finally posted several round victories after two errors by Aleksib, with the Russians seizing the opportunity to retake the lead. The remainder of the half was characterized by site-heavy bet stacks, and this change in strategy paid off right away as Spirit fought its way back to within one at the break, 7-8.
To ensure that Ninjas in Pyjamas were able to capitalize on their pistol round victory and reach double digits, 10-7, REZ executed a flawless quad-kill defense of the A bombsite. From this point on, Aleksib’s forces remained in control, destroying their opponents with their superior weaponry to concede Spirit just one more round before the series ended, 16-8. Throughout Mirage, everyone was at full capacity for Ninjas in Pyjamas, with every player finishing the map with a rating of 1.00 or higher.