The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) semi finals took place on the 19th November. The Oracle Arena, Oakland, hosted some of the biggest teams in CS:GO including SK Gaming, Natus Vincere and Ninjas in Pyjamas. We have a look at the teams competing in the semis and who progressed to the grand finals.
Semi final teams:
- SK Gaming vs Astralis
- Faze vs Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP)
Semi final game 1
Astralis vs SK Gaming
The first game of the semi finals was between the all Danish team, Astralis and Brazilian giants, SK Gaming. SK were coming into this game red hot after hard-countering G2 esports in the quarter finals. Similarly, Glaive was proving to be a great addition to Astralis.
Game 1 – Train
SK Gaming set out, determined to intimidate the Danes by living up to their execellent reputation on train. However Astralis knew they’d be making a huge statement if they were to defeat the Brazilians on their most dominant map. SK stayed true and easily took the opening round. The economic advantage put them comfortably ahead 3-0, with the help of a 4k from ColdZera. After a success execute of flash bangs between the middle of the trains on A site FER got an imperative double spray on Device and Kjaerbye. On round six Astralis could finally afford to go toe-to-toe. SK were shut down when they got introduced to Device and his friend the AWP.
The Danish star’s opening round AWP frags caused SK a lot of problems. The score was 5-2 to SK, but at the same time Device was becoming quite content especially with the support Glaive provided. A nice double kill by the newcomer got Astralis their second round on the board. Device’s early frags were key to getting Astralis warmed up, the game was tied at 5-5. The Danes were on a hot streak now, winning eight rounds in a row. Despite the streak SK managed to make a healthy recovery, they’d brought the game to 7-8 at half time.
Astralis won the pistol round on their terrorist side. Two more flawless cleanups by the Danes put them at 11-7. SK clearly were on the back foot. Round 22 was an important one for SK who had become the victors of it after FNX and Taco successfully closed out the 2v2. After round 26, SK began to hit their stride. Astralis’ poor economy forced them into an eco buy. This only aided in clarifying the amazing CT side of the Brazilians. Their high win rate became very apparent, FER’s clutch quad kill put SK in front at 15-14. In final round SK Gaming stole the game from Astralis in an extremely close back and forth battle. Although Astralis had lost they could certainly go back to the drawing board with their heads held high.
Game 2 – Mirage
SK took the opening round from their CT side. The next few rounds were straight forward the Brazilians led 4-0 punishing Astralis’ poor economy. A good pistol round by Xyp9x gave Astralis some hope, 2-4 the score at round six. Going into round nine the game was tied at 4-4 an impressive AWP performance from FalleN kept SK Gaming in the lead. A beautiful flank by FER on round 12 bagged him three kills. SK stretched their lead going four rounds up. The beautiful CounterStrike continued Taco came up big gaining three AWP kills whilst defending A site. Taco’s short hot streak helped the Brazilians finish the half seven rounds ahead, it was all going their way.
Yet again SK took the pistol round, but this time FalleN and ColdZera closed the round in a tight 2v2 battle. With their backs against the wall Astralis answered back. Xyp9x’s impressive triple kill during the teams eco round was very much an inspiration. The Dane continued to win them yet another round after a second triple kill. At the 22nd round the score was 13-8 to SK Gaming.
Momentum carried for Astralis as they were catching up. As a result the Danish side were reading SK’s T side play very well, although the score still sat at 12-13 to SK. Nevertheless the early reads couldn’t contain the firepower from the Brazilians. SK’s back to back wins put a stop to the streak. FalleN and ColdZera’s clutch plays had the Danes rattled. Taco’s amazing 2v1 clutch closed the game and the series for the Brazilians. His great rifling earned them place in the grand finals.
Semi final game 2
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Faze
Lead by new in-game leader Karrigan (formerly of Astralis), Faze put in a good showing at this tournament. For NiP they were welcoming back Pyth and ready to resume activity after a painless victory versus Immortals in the quarterfinals.
Game 1 – Nuke
Faze took the opening round with a sneaky defuse from Allu. Despite the cheek, Forest got NiP their first round on the board with a smart play to get the bomb plant and the winning pick. However NiP were not winning many round yet were still buying into each one. Faze punished the constant buy-ins from NiP. Karrigan came up huge with a lovely wallbang headshot to Pyth with his low-cost scout. Faze were up 4-2. Unfortunately it slumped from here, Allu was clearly under-performing. The Finnish player only managed one kill in nine rounds. Whilst Forest and Xizt began carrying from the terrorist side. NiP gained a huge economic advantage. The Faze clan struggled to keep Forest at bay.
Round 12 was a bit shaky for NiP who were beginning to get comfortable. Consequently they’d underestimated the skills of the Faze individuals. Rain hit a couple of beautiful scout shots and instantly took two players out of the round. The Ninjas made a narrow escape to take the round, despite the bad early start. The half finished 10-5 to NiP led by veteran Forest, who was on fire winning almost every duel. Faze’s good early start was cut short.
The Swedes continued to add the heat coming into the second half. Pyth’s incredible USP pistol 4k had the crowd on their feet. However Faze managed to cool NiP down after the pistol round. They played passively choosing their moments to strike. Faze clan took the rounds from 5-10 to 11-11. Aizy stepped up and gave the Swedes problems on their T side. As a result, with the game tied Pyth took down Kioshima in a close 1v1, NiP had their lead back. Cracks started to show in Faze’s T side now. Ninjas in Pyjamas completely shut down Faze without losing a player. Their lead extended to 13-11. Despite the small set back, Faze showed no signs of letting the game go, the back and forth continued. Although NiP were in the lead for most of the map, suddenly Faze were on map point at 15-14.
Faze failed to close out the game, therefore the map continued into overtime. NiP star man Get Right chose the auto sniper but the focus wasn’t on him. Xizt stole the spotlight when his search for information ended up being much more than he bargained for. The Swede picked up two easy frags, a perfect introduction to overtime. In similar fashion it was the Xizt show picking up multiple frags every round during OT. As a result, NiP closed the game flawlessly giving Faze no room to get any overtime.
Game 2 – Train
The five man Faze side put up a solid defense on their CT side in the opening round. Furthermore the financial boost meant Karrigan could assert his dominance with a nice famas spray to kill three NiP players. An amazing grenade thrown by Allu took down two from the terrorist side to secure their 3-0 lead. Faze arrived firing on all cylinders this map. However the first full buy round was upon them. This round was exhilarating as Faze went for a successful panic defuse. It was a close shave for Kioshima who was clouded in smoke whilst Forest’s bullets whizzed past his chest.
Meanwhile Karrigan and Allu began hitting their targets with their AWPs there wasn’t much NiP could do. The mixed European team were dominating train. So far NiP had only a single highlight, Friberg’s impressive sneak bagged him two easy headshots. Despite Friberg’s ninja like moves the score was 6-2 in favour of Faze. Afterwards the hiccups from Faze persisted, Forest began warming up. The impressive frags from the veteran were nostalgic. Despite Faze becoming unbalanced, they reverted to a double AWP setup. With the Faze clan at 7-5 the expensive buy had to pay off for them. It did, the Ninjas were defenseless. The last round of the half was secured by Kioshima’s auto sniper the counter-terrorists were sitting pretty at 10-5.
In addition Faze’s commanding presence carried through to the second half with a pistol round win. While failed eco rounds forced NiP into a high-risk full buy in an attempt to go toe-to-toe. However nothing was gained from this, the lost round for NiP was soul destroying. The Swedes were nine rounds down on budget buys. Although Forest was putting in an MVP level performance the 1v2 clutch was too much to ask. Faze led 15-5 and NiP were staring defeat in the face. Nevertheless Forest was unwilling to give up so easily, punishing the terrorists when NiP had scraped the money together for an AWP. But the gap was too big to close resulting in a defeat for Ninjas in Pyjamas. The map ended 16-6 to Faze.
Game 3 – Overpass
Determined to put the last map behind them NiP storm into Overpass immediately taking the pistol round as terrorists. In addition NiP remained in full control of the game with a 3-0 lead including successful bomb plants. Despite the healthy economy of the Swedes, Faze were ready to prove themselves in the Oracle Arena. Kioshima turend up and won a brilliant 1v4 clutch. Wrong footing Forest in a critical 1v1 to take the defuse. Furthermore, inspired by Kioshima’s play, the Europeans progressed to take two more rounds. Although Faze managed to win rounds NiP were having no problems entering the sites. At 6-4 to NiP, they decided to switch up their tactics, consisting of a late rush. To their dismay running down the clock never paid dividends. As a result the Xizt was unable to plant the bomb in time.
Faze lagged behind, they had a constant string of low budget buys. However thanks to Allu’s well-played round they snatched the last round of half time. The half ended 9-6 in favour of NiP. Forest’s nice USP 2k led the team to a pistol round win. NiP punished Faze on their important first full buy. Xizt and Forest shut down the opposition, the score 13-6. Finally Faze executed a well thought out plan and were closing in. Rain came up with some beautiful AK 47 spray transfers, including a double kills whilst the enemies were in smoke. The Norwegian was attempting to match the level of Forest.
On the 25th round NiP were forced into an eco, however they luckily managed to save an AWP. Ultimately, the saved AWP, saved the Ninjas. Armed with the sniper rifle, Pyth bagged three crucial kills to put the Swedes on map point. Desperate to remain in the tournament Rain beat out Xizt in a heated 1v1. Faze gained rounds on NiP, the teams healthy economy put NiP on the back foot. The European mix of players clinched three extra rounds before succumbing to defeat. Losing only Pyth and Forest in the round, Get Right, Friberg and Xizt banded together to close the game. NiP progressed to the grand finals of IEM Oakland winning 16-13.