All eyes were on the European and North American qualifiers last week as a number of strong contenders were battling it out for that coveted, single regional qualifier spot to IEM Sydney, bringing us the following list of confirmed teams:
- Cloud9 (invited)
- FaZe Clan (invited)
- Fnatic (invited)
- Mousesports (invited)
- Natus Vincere (invited)
- Renegades (invited)
- SK Gaming (invited)
- Astralis (qualified)
- NRG Esports (qualified)
- 3x Asian Qualifiers
- 3x Oceanic Qualifiers
- Winner of GG:Origin
This is how the qualifiers played out in both regions:
- Astralis 2-0 Hollywood
- Astralis 2-0 Gambit Esports
- Astralis 2-0 Virtus.pro
Many expected the European Qualifier to come down to either Astralis or G2 Esports. Both teams have been in strong form as of late and were touted as favorites coming in. And while Astralis did end up on top, Virtus.pro had other plans for G2’s qualifier run.
After a straightforward first match against Open Qualifier squad adwokacik, G2 faced Virtus.pro in the semi finals. The bears had gone through a much tougher, three-game opening series against NiP, which they closed out with a decisive 16-14 on Mirage. And their stellar performances on Mirage would continue in their series against G2, where a 16-7 start put the French teams backs against the wall. Under pressure, mixwell led his team to a more than convincing 16-5 on Inferno to equalize the series. But in the third and final game on Cobble, MICHU took matters into his own hands with 26 kills to eliminate G2 from contention, while securing VP a spot in the qualifier finals.
Awaiting them in the finals were of course none other than Astralis. The Danes were coming off two straight 2-0 victories over HOLLYWOOD and Gambit and seemed like the team to beat. After performing well on Mirage all qualifier long, Virtus.pro finally met their match in the game one of the finals, where device laid down the law to secure Astralis a 16-13 opening map. What followed would be a one sided 16-8 on Inferno to close out the series, thereby securing Astralis the EU qualifier spot for IEM Sydney!
Winners: NRG Esports
- NRG 2-0 Torqued
- NRG 2-1 Team Liquid
- NRG 2-0 compLexity Gaming
On the other side of the Atlantic, eight hopeful NA squads were vying for control of the single NA qualifier spot for IEM Sydney. Fans and experts gave Liquid and OpTic the highest chances of securing the trip the Australia, but NRG had other plans.
Instead of a Liquid vs OpTic final, we saw two upsets in the semifinals as both NRG and coL came to play. Both series went to a full Bo3 but none of the games actually went down to the wire. NRG put Liquid on the backfoot from the start after a 16-10 on Mirage, but EliGE helped Liquid tie things back up, thanks to a 16-9 on Cobble. But nahtE and NRG could not be stopped in the final game on Train where a 16-8 secured NRG a spot in the qualifier finals. On the other side of the bracket compLexity managed to bring down OpTic in a series that went down in almost the exact same fashion (Mirage 16-10, Nuke 9-16, Inferno 16-9).
So instead of the “expected” Liquid vs OpTic matchup, the NA qualifier seed would be decided between NRG and coL. And the opening game on Cache was yet another nahtE show. NRG’s rifler got himself 23 kills to give his team a commanding position in the series and his team wasn’t giving coL any glimmers of hope in game two on Nuke. A 16-9 sealed compLexity’s fate and with that 2-0, NRG are now headed to IEM Sydney.
More qualifiers will follow soon as Asia and Oceania are getting ready to duke it out, so stay tuned for more IEM Sydney updates.
Asia Qualifiers: April 4-11
Oceania Qualifiers: April 13-17