Vitality deny FaZe comeback to clinch last playoffs spot at ESL One Cologne
FaZe leave the tournament after a shaky group stage in their debut with the Dane. Their first campaign with the new lineup saw the European team concede the opening round to a strong-looking Heroic and drop to the lower bracket, where they beat MIBR before eventually falling to Vitality in the deciding series.
It was an especially disappointing tournament for Kjaerbye himself, who clearly struggled with his new team and role throughout the group stage, putting up a 0.86 rating in his first event back after taking a break in May to deal with health issues.
Meanwhile, Vitality managed to recover from a tough loss to Astralis in the upper bracket semi-final with the triumph against FaZe and earned a place on the favorable-looking side of the playoffs, where the Frenchmen will clash with Sprout in the quarter-finals on Thursday at 18:30 .
A bloody affair on Dust2 set the tone for the deciding series. Vitality looked like the stronger team to kick things off once they were able to break FaZe's economy twice and climb to a 9-3 lead, but the European side did not roll over as triples from Håvard "rain" Nygaard and Kjaerbye in two A attacks put them within three at halftime.
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač's USP-S triple in a seemingly unwinnable 3v4 A retake then pushed FaZe to equalize things at 9-9, at which point the two sides started trading rounds back and forth. Cédric "RpK" Guipouy shone for the French side while rain and Marcelo "coldzera" David delivered a couple of big plays for their team, and it turned out that neither squad would be able to close things in regulation as Vitality's eldest member broke the 30-kill mark with four in the last round.
Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, who had up to that point been rather quiet on the server, took over from the 31-year-old veteran in overtime, where he put up a double and two huge quad-kills to secure the opening map for Vitality at 19-16 as they headed over to their own pick, Nuke.
FaZe looked to strike back there with a good start on the defense while NiKo picked up another pistol triple, but when it got to the gunrounds things started to go horribly wrong for the European side as they kept conceding advantageous scenarios. Vitality turned around two 2v5s as well as two 1v2s, courtesy of smart play from Kévin "misutaaa" Rabier and Dan "apEX" Madesclaire, and despite losing to just Deagles in one round they built up a nice cushion of five rounds before switching to the favored side.
ZywOo's triple in the second pistol round made things look even more dire for FaZe, who quickly found themselves up against match point at 7-15. NiKo's squad still showcased great resilience, with the Bosnian consistently creating gaps in the defense as FaZe mounted a promising comeback attempt, but they ultimately fell at the last hurdle once they gave up an opening in yard, with Vitality breathing a sigh of relief as they closed the series 16-14, 2-0.
|FaZe||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Nikola 'NiKo' KovačNiKo||54 - 50||+4||97.4||1.22|
|Marcelo 'coldzera' Davidcoldzera||43 - 41||+2||68.6||1.04|
|Helvijs 'broky' Saukantsbroky||41 - 46||-5||68.5||0.94|
|Håvard 'rain' Nygaardrain||37 - 43||-6||59.0||0.88|
|Markus 'Kjaerbye' KjærbyeKjaerbye||36 - 48||-12||72.9||0.85|