Spirit eliminate BIG from IEM Katowice
The Germans started the series in hot form, but couldn't handle Spirit's firepower once the Russians woke up on Mirage.
Spirit's individuals recovered from a woeful start to defeat BIG 2-1 in the first round of the Group A lower bracket, eliminating the German side from IEM Katowice. BIG dominated on Nuke and could have won by a larger scoreline than 16-10, but found themselves utterly overwhelmed by Spirit on Mirage, losing it 11-16 despite getting off to a hot start before falling 10-16 on Anubis.
This matchup pitched two teams with very different trajectories against each other: BIG sporting an experienced core seeking to overcome a long-term plateau, and Spirit filled with young talent looking to realize their full potential. The Germans will head home knowing work needs to be done if they are to progress in 2023, whilst Spirit will need to ensure they don't start another series as slowly as this one if they are to progress in Katowice.
Both teams will be reflecting on their map pool moving forwards, that much is certain. BIG have yet to get their Anubis to a reliable level, but Nuke may seem an attractive option after they picked and won it both in this series and at BLAST against Liquid. Spirit have lost their map pick every series they have played in Katowice, having tried Nuke, Ancient and Vertigo.
The match kicked off on Nuke, the map pick of Spirit, with the Russians starting on the T side. It was BIG who drew first blood, nabbing themselves a pistol win and conversion, before a big play on an outside lurk from Robert "Patsi" Isyanov got Spirit on the board. From this point it felt like BIG were figuring out their rotations, giving them five of the next six rounds, but a whiffed spray from Josef "faveN" Baumann on hut let Spirit back into the half, and they ran with this opportunity to a 6-9 score.
Despite the close scoreline Spirit had not seemed comfortable on Nuke in the first half, so a converted pistol win was a welcome start to their defense. It was short-lived, however, as BIG brought forth a clean and clinical offense once they got guns in their hands, repeatedly running their Russian counterparts over all the way to a 14-8 score. A heroic Patsi 3k spray at Decon breathed some life into the Spirit CT side, but it was too little, too late as BIG marched to a confident 16-10 scoreline. As if to rub salt in the wound, BIG closed the map with a 2vs4 round win.
It seemed the series might be a very quick 2-0 as Mirage began as BIG cruised out to a 5-0 lead in dominant fashion, amidst which Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz knifed Igor "w0nderful" Zhdanov and sent some deafening screams his opponent's way. The attempted intimidation may have backfired as Spirit stabilised, grabbing five in a row of their own off the back of some excellent work holding A by Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov and w0nderful. A sublime clutch from tabseN after a low-eco B rush put BIG back on the board, but Spirit wrestled back control and took a slim 8-7 lead into the second period.
Spirit started their offense strong, taking three on the bounce with some crisp entry work, before a couple chaotic rounds went BIG's way to get them up and running on CT. Pavel "s1ren" Ogloblin then came up trumps with a 4k on a force to crush BIG's economy before it could build, and this gave way to a 15-9 lead for his team. BIG managed to repel a couple more attacks but ultimately Spirit were not to be denied, the Russian squad closing the map 16-11 to take the series to Anubis.
BIG completely fell apart on the first half of the deciding map, posting a woeful 2-13 CT side that was simply unrecoverable after they lost the second-half pistol. faveN did post an impressive 1vs3 clutch to keep his team alive, and BIG proceeded to put together a solid T side built on the back of several more clutches, but it wasn't enough to win the game. Spirit eventually stopped a B hit with pistols, and duly closed the map 16-10.
Spirit move on to the lower semi-finals on Monday at 19:30 , where they await the loser of Liquid vs. Natus Vincere.
|BIG||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|54 - 50||+4||82.2||1.16|
|59 - 48||+11||68.5||1.10|
|48 - 56||-8||73.2||0.96|
|46 - 58||-12||69.2||0.89|
|25 - 52||-27||49.0||0.63|
|Spirit||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|70 - 41||+29||81.2||1.37|
|53 - 44||+9||75.6||1.15|
|49 - 42||+7||70.6||1.14|
|49 - 52||-3||72.3||1.04|
|43 - 53||-10||61.3||0.85|