Live updates from IEM Cologne semi-finals
Keep up with the highlights from the semi-finals day in our regularly updated post.
"I was really confident in our own gameplan and it went a bit easier when you have players like this," Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen brielfy reflected on the convincing performance.
Speaking on the topic of adjusting on Ancient after G2's loss to Astralis on the map in the group stage opener, the in-game leader said: "I just wanted it to take the fight to them, I felt like last time we kinda threw that map away by not controling the pace."
"The environment around the team is really good right now and we are all on the same page when we talk about what we want and what we can get better at. I don't know if it feels better than Katowice, that was the best moment of my career so far, so I don't know about that, but it definitely feels like the same team again."
Some fighting words from the Dane towards Aleksandar "kassad" Trifunović at the end. "People who say I'm shit just don't understand the game," he said, giving a side eye to the Serbian analyst.
It's a deserved victory, to be quite honest. Astralis never really stood a chance, especially after losing on Ancient, their home map, 12-16. It even took Nicolai "device" Reedtz stopping Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen from defusing at the last possible moment in round 24 for his team to stay alive for another round in Cologne.
|IEM Cologne 2023|
G2 will start preparing for their title-deciding affair versus ENCE. The best-of-five will kick off on Sunday at 16:00 , where either side has the chance to win their second Big Event trophy of the year — G2 won at IEM Katowice in February while ENCE prevailed at IEM Dallas in May.
|G2||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|43 - 26||+17||84.4||1.41|
|46 - 28||+18||92.5||1.39|
|42 - 29||+13||72.5||1.22|
|33 - 34||-1||76.5||1.09|
|18 - 36||-18||46.8||0.73|
G2 haven't looked back ever since, halting Astralis' offensive efforts with a stalwart defense to meander their way to 13 rounds. They're not just three rounds from a spot in the IEM Cologne title decider versus ENCE.
Time is running out for the Danes. Who is going to save them?
The momentum is no longer purely in G2's favor. Astralis won five rounds in a row to reduce the deficit down to just three rounds at the side swap, and they'll look to continue chipping away when it's their turn to attack.
First, though, they'll need to find an answer for NiKo, who is clearly hungry for a grand final spot. The Bosnian is already on 20 kills and 130 ADR, cutting through the Danes' defenses like a hot knife through butter time and time again.
It's starting to look a bit grim for Astralis now we're on G2's pick of Inferno. Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen and company, who won the Ancient opener 16-12, are already 7-2 up on the T-side, with Nikola "NiKo" Kovač atop the scoreboard with 11 kills.
Astralis have had chances, but they're just struggling to convert their advantages. Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač and Justin "jks" Savage even pulled off a 2vs5 in round eight. It was the perfect chance for Astralis to get back in the swing of things, but the Bosnian and Australian joined forces to stop the Danes in their tracks against the odds.
We're only two rounds into Inferno and we've already had a lot of action.
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač had to come up trumps with an ace to save his team from an embarrassing defeat to Astralis force buy, even resorting to his Glock-18 to take down Nicolai "device" Reedtz and complete the ace.
It was a fantastic performance from Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač on the map, who ended proceedings on the map with 25 kills and 90+ ADR. Conversely, it was a noticeably disappointing map for Christian "Buzz" Andersen. The Dane impressed over Heroic on Friday, but ended map one of the series with just nine kills — he'll be shaking his head when he checks the demo back.
I think Astralis had to win Ancient to stand a chance in the series. We're now heading over to G2's choice of Inferno, so you'd expect Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen and company to triumph on that one and progress to the IEM Cologne title decider.
I said Astralis would need to pull off quite the comeback, and it just so happens that they have. The Danes trailed by five rounds at halftime, but are now just two rounds behind.
Regardless, time is running out to complete the comeback. G2 have won two in a row now to inch closer to victory on the Danes' map pick — just three rounds needed to end Astralis seven-map winning streak.
Benjamin "blameF" Bremer is in the building, ladies and gentlemen.
He's just pulled off an ace in the pistol round with his dualies; just listen to that Lanxess roar. Goosebumps.
Can this be the start of a Astralis comeback? Let's find out!