NiP will fight for the IEM Oakland grand prize of $125,000 after moving past SK Gaming 2-1 in the semi-finals.
The first match at the Oracle Arena began on SK's map pick, Overpass, where the Brazilians got out to a quick 4-0 lead on the defensive side after retaking the A site in the pistol round and shutting down NiP's third-round buy.
After a brief tactical pause, NiP finally managed to break through the stern SK defense, but only because of a great individual round from Richard "Xizt" Landström, who clutched a 1v2 situation with a stellar spray. SK immediately rallied back, however, resetting the Swedes.
Down 1-7, NiP changed their game plan and began to counter SK's overaggression. Little by little, the Swedish team took control of the economy, setting themselves up for a surprising 8-7 lead with a seven-round win streak.
SK levelled the score in the second half with an A execution in the pistol round, with Marcelo "coldzera" David getting three kills to his name. But NiP would not let their opponents retake the lead as they hit back in an eco round with double-kills from Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund.
That round swung the momentum back towards NiP, who simply ran away with the lead. SK still managed to take a gun round, reducing the deficit to 9-12, but they could not follow that up and were faced with a hard reset. Strapped for cash, the Brazilians simply could not keep the Ninjas from taking the map, with Xizt capping a great display with a triple kill in the final round.
Next up was Cache, NiP's map pick, where the Swedes got off to a slow start, losing the first three rounds, the last of which a buy attempt. The Ninjas then surprisingly reduced the deficit, courtesy of two entry kills from Fredrik "REZ" Sterner on the A site, but SK regained control after finding themselves with a two-man advantage early on.
A massive blunder from SK cost them the next round, saving NiP from an economic reset, but the Brazilians did not let that get to them and increased their lead to 7-2. After that, NiP's offense flourished. Until the end of the half, SK would only get one more round as the Swedish team managed to bring the deficit to a minimum thanks to a solid display from REZ.
The 19-year-old would come up huge in the following pistol round, clutching a 1v3 situation to to restore parity at 8-8. However, his effort did not trouble SK, who rallied back on a force buy and regained control of proceedings.
In the 20th round, GeT_RiGhT came close to ending SK's streak after finding four kills in the storage room, but Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo pulled off a 1v3 clutch - putting NiP against the ropes and setting his team up for a convincing victory.
It all came down to Inferno, where SK came out the livelier of the two sides, winning the pistol round and the subsequent anti-ecos to secure a 3-0 lead. After buying up, NiP got a footing in the game as they won four of the next five rounds, one of them a force-buy after being left low on cash.
A 1v2 clutch from coldzera then put SK back in the lead, but not for long. NiP tightened up their defense after getting their economy back on track and brought the scoreline to an 8-6 advantage before the Brazilians reduced the deficit to a minimum with a B execution on an extremely shoddy buy.
Carrying their momentum into the following pistol round, NiP opened things up with a fast A execution that proved successful as they planted the bomb in a 5v2 situation. After winning both anti-ecos, NiP also took the first full gun round, putting the Brazilians in a very difficult economic situation.
After getting a decent bank to work with, SK put a double AWP setup to great use, winning back-to-back rounds and forcing a tactical pause out of NiP. But after that, SK's defense collapsed as the Ninjas took control of the game with a series of B executions to book their spot in Sunday's title decider.
|SK||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Marcelo 'coldzera' Davidcoldzera||74 - 47||+27||92.7||1.41|
|Gabriel 'FalleN' ToledoFalleN||52 - 54||-2||80.2||1.09|
|Ricardo 'boltz' Prassboltz||50 - 49||+1||75.4||1.00|
|Fernando 'fer' Alvarengafer||44 - 60||-16||72.4||0.87|
|Epitacio 'TACO' de MeloTACO||28 - 49||-21||41.9||0.67|