After three days of group play, the number of teams in the running for the MLG Columbus CS:GO championship has been cut in half, and the eight remaining teams are preparing themselves for Friday’s quarterfinal matches.
With a pair of matches that went deep into overtime, some massive upsets, and a pair of North American teams who made it out of their groups against all odds, this has been one of the most exciting group stages of a CS:GO major in quite some time.
Featuring Ninjas in Pyjamas, Luminosity Gaming, mousesports and Flipside3 Tactics, group A proved to be a closely-fought set of matches. Brazil’s Luminosity, who are expected to go far in this event, won two games in a row to qualify without too much fuss, while Flipsid3 suffered two heartbreaking overtime losses in a row, and were eliminated.
That left NiP and mousesports to battle it out in the final group A match, and after a very close best-of-three, NiP pulled off a 16-9 victory on the third map and became the second group A team to make it through.
What should have been an easy group to call – world #1s Fnatic, the fearsome ex-G2 lineup of FaZe, and the two North American teams of Splyce and Team Liquid – turned into one of the most stunning upsets in recent CS:GO history.
After defeating FaZe 16-11, Team Liquid were already doing better than many analysts expected them to. Fnatic, as expected, bulldozed through Splyce, setting the stage for a Fnatic vs. Liquid winners match. On paper, this should have been a foregone conclusion, but Liquid refused to yield to a team that’s been largely unbeatable of late.
After three overtime periods, Team Liquid finally put down Fnatic, with a final score of 22-19. This is the first time a North American team has made it out of the group stage of a major since Cloud9 did it at Cologne 2014. Fortunately for Fnatic, they managed to beat FaZe in the final match, so they’ll have a shot at redemption in the main event.
If Liquid’s success in group B was a dream come true, EnVyUs’s run in group C was closer to a nightmare. The defending champions of Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca were put into a group with Astralis, Gambit Gaming, and the Americans of Counter Logic Gaming, and after losing consecutive matches to Gambit and CLG, the former champs were eliminated from the tournament without ever winning a game.
Astralis managed to defeat both Gambit and CLG, allowing them to move on and leave Gambit and CLG to play each other in the final match. After grinding it out for three long games, CLG emerged victorious, meaning we’ll have not just one, but two North American teams in the playoffs. You’d have to search very far afield to find an analyst who predicted that outcome.
After all the upsets in the other groups, group D looked relatively straightforward by comparison. Natus Vincere steamrolled through two straight games to qualify for the main event, while Cloud9, who have been struggling of late, lost two in a row to be eliminated. G2 Esports and Virtus.pro then had to duel each other for the last spot.
In a hard-fought match, Virtus.pro found their form on the third map and clinched the series. Despite a rough few months, the Polish team will once again hang onto their Legend status with this return to a major top 8.
With all of the group stage games out of the way, we now have a clear picture of what the bracket will look like for the main event, which will get rolling Friday morning at 10 AM local time (GMT -4). The quarterfinals will kick off with a series between Ninjas in Pyjamas and Natus Vincere, followed by Fnatic taking on Astralis.
To finish the day out, we’ll have the two North American teams, Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming, going head-to-head; that means at least one of these NA squads is destined for the semi-finals. Once that’s settled, the last quarterfinal match will go down Saturday morning, with Luminosity battling Virtus.pro for their tournament lives.
Of the eight Legend teams that came into this tournament, only six remain in contention; FaZe Clan and EnVyUs have both been eliminated, with their spots being replaced by the Challenger teams of Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid.
From here on out, all the playoff matches will be played in the massive Nationwide Arena, and you can catch the live broadcast in the usual spot. If you miss the broadcast, check back here for daily recaps all weekend!