fnatic best IHC, progress to Group A fourth-place decider in Malta
fnatic are through to the ESL Pro League Season 17 Group A fourth-place decider after dispatching IHC in a three-map series, eliminating the Mongolians following a win on Inferno (16-9), an overtime loss on Overpass (17-19), and a comfortable showing on Nuke (16-5).
William "mezii" Merriman and company will now battle it out versus Eternal Fire on Sunday at 19:30 . The two teams have locked horns once already in Malta, where fnatic prevailed in a hard-fought three-map affair to cast the Turks down to the last chance stage. This time, however, the stakes are far higher, with the winner picking up the last remaining playoff berth for Group A, while the loser is sent packing from the $850,000 LAN event in 17-20th place.
It was Fredrik "roeJ" Jørgensen's time to shine for his squad against the Mongolians. The Dane was impactful all series long, cracking open bombsites, shutting down IHC's offensive strategies, and leading the server with a 1.33 rating and 89 ADR over the three maps.
Play began on Inferno, IHC's go-to veto pick, and it didn't take long for the Mongolians to make full use of their map selection. A triple kill in the pistol round from Sodbayar "Techno" Munkhbold enabled the Asian side to snowball their way to an early 5-0 lead, with fnatic only able to plant the C4 once across those opening five rounds.
It took until round seven for fnatic to finally get on the scoreboard thanks to double kills from roeJ and Nico "nicoodoz" Tamjidi, plays which kick-started the European combine's comeback effort. fnatic put up a stellar nine-round streak from this point on, explosive and well-executed bombsite takes, coupled with a team-wide boost in performance, allowing fnatic to surge to a 9-6 lead the side swap.
fnatic continued their winning streak at the outset of the second half; roeJ and nicoodoz remained unrelenting and their superlative form extended fnatic's lead to six rounds, 12-6. IHC looked to close the gap with a three-round spree of their own, but fnatic's defensive line withstood the assault, with the European ensemble closing things out a short time later with few issues, 16-9.
fnatic enjoyed a slender lead to start Overpass, overturning IHC's initial 3-0 spree by chaining together four rounds of their own on the T-side. Fortunes soon turned, however, as the Mongolian quintet erected a near-impenetrable CT-side wall, shutting down fnatic's hits of the two bombsites and racing up to a guaranteed first-half triumph, 8-4. Once again, fnatic mounted a comeback; a post-plant triple kill from mezii in the 13th round halted IHC's onslaught, the international mixture using this as a platform from which to reduce the deficit to just one round by halftime, 7-8.
roeJ gunned down four to inaugurate fnatic's time on the CT-side, the Dane following this up with a double kill in Bathrooms in the ensuing round to allow his side to regain the lead once more. The black-and-orange fumbled to IHC's pistols in round 19, allowing Garidmagnai "bLitz" Byambasuren and co. an avenue back into the game as they regained control of the momentum en route to a 14-11 showing. IHC reached map point first courtesy of a 1vs2 clutch from Tuvshintugs "Annihilation" Nyamdorj, but fnatic refused to be out for the count, adding three hard-fought rounds to their tally to force a trip to overtime.
There, it was IHC who narrowly pulled ahead. The Mongolians picked up two rounds on their offensive effort, before being pushed to the limit on the more favoured CT-side, eventually eking out the win in the final round, 19-17.
IHC refused to leave the driver's seat once Nuke rolled around and fnatic struggled to earn a foothold in the game at first, even despite trouncing G2, the world's best team, on the map earlier on Saturday. Regardless, a 1vs2 clutch from Dion "FASHR" Derksen in the seventh round flipped the game on its head, enabling fnatic to post much-needed rounds on the board and start to run away with things. The European roster went on a splendid seven-round spree after the Dutchman's heroics, conceding just one round once they got the ball rolling to sit up 10-5 at the break.
Things went from bad to worse for IHC once the map resumed. A clean pistol round gave fnatic the economic freedom to march onward all the way to map and series point, 15-5. Any chance of a Mongolian resurgence was quickly dashed, with nicoodoz pulling a 1vs2 out of his hat on the A bombsite to lock in a 2-1 victory.
|IHC||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|60 - 63||-3||84.5||1.02|
|48 - 56||-8||71.7||0.94|
|46 - 54||-8||63.8||0.89|
|51 - 63||-12||68.6||0.86|
|49 - 61||-12||64.4||0.84|