G2 edge out Astralis to reach first grand final with NiKo
The European team are one step closer to clinching their big first title with the French-Balkan core.
G2 have advanced to the IEM Cologne grand final following a nail-biting finish to a thrilling three-map series against Astralis. The Nemanja "nexa" Isaković-led side have reached their first title decider since they finished runners-up at DreamHack Masters Spring in June 2020, and their first following Nikola "NiKo" Kovač's arrival a few months later.
G2 will lock horns with the winner of the second semi-final between Natus Vincere and FaZe in the best-of-five bout for the trophy, on Sunday at 16:00 . The grand final will see the French-Balkan squad attempt to break another curse as they look to secure their first big title since the organization decided to go international in late-2019.
Finishing just shy of a grand final appearance, Astralis leave the tournament in third-fourth place with their heads held high after making their first deep playoffs run at a tournament since the shocking departure of star AWPer Nicolai "device" Reedtz earlier this year.
The opening rounds of Nuke might have had you thinking that it would be a closely contested affair, but the messy start on the first map quickly turned into a show of dominance from G2. A couple of last-second bomb plant denials, one in their eco and one up against a scary low buy from Astralis, put nexa's team in an early lead, and from there on it all fell apart for the Danes.
With a near-perfect defense spearheaded by François "AmaNEk" Delaunay, G2 secured a 12-3 half despite losing the opening pistol, and Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač's 1v2 clutch in the second all but sealed the deal for his team, who went on to clinch a comfortable win.
huNter-'s pistol form carried over to Dust2, but it did him or his team little good as Astralis quickly grasped the momentum on the CT side with a second-round forcebuy. Staggered by the Danes' utility, G2's struggles for time saw them opt for measly executes late and rounds wins came few and far between, and by the end of the half they were down 4-11. A last-ditch effort saw the French-Balkan team close the gap early into the second half and start pressuring Astralis, but Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander & co. remained ahead thanks to a couple of successful executes and equalized the series at 16-12.
The Danish powerhouse got off to a strong start on Inferno on the back of another second-round forcebuy win but began to lose steam towards the end of the half, when G2 were able to catch the bomb in open positions in a couple of key rounds to bring the half back to an even keel. 8-7 in favor of the European combine in the end meant that G2 would reach double digits first after huNter- and Audric "JaCkz" Jug pulled off big clutches in the first two rounds on the offense, but Astralis would not back down.
Well-timed aggression had Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen & co. fighting back for control on the CT side, and breaking their opponents' economy twice Astralis regained their lead at 14-13. Under the immense pressure, NiKo and huNter- stepped up to the plate and turned around a 2v4 situation as they defended the bomb from pit, with G2 then opting for a quick A halls pop for the 15th round and locking down the series against just pistols in the final round of regulation.
|G2||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|61 - 49||+12||75.4||1.17|
|57 - 51||+6||70.6||1.03|
|51 - 54||-3||82.2||1.02|
|48 - 51||-3||69.3||0.95|
|41 - 50||-9||55.5||0.89|