Team Spirit stuns G2 Esports, wins opener at IEM Katowice 2021
In the opening match of IEM Katowice 2021's group stage, Spirit has extended its current win streak and beat G2 in a close 2-1 match. That brings Team Spirit's winning streak to six matches in a row. Both teams won their map pick, with Spirit edging out the decider of Inferno.
The game started on Spirit's pick, Train. Spearheaded by an outstanding opening by Boris "magixx" Vorobiev, Team Spirit had an outstanding first half by winning eight rounds on the less-favored T side. Moving to the second half, G2 started to wake up, and Nikola "Niko" Kovac brought the French-Balkan team back to 14-15. But a successful defense of the A-site in the final round of the map saw Spirit edge out the victory with a 16-14 scoreline.
Spirit struggled to hold their defense together on the second map of the series, Mirage. G2 Esports was especially successful in getting early advantages and winning most of the opening duels. They steamrolled their way to a 10-5 lead at halftime.
Swapping sides, G2 continued to show their superiority on the map. They lost the pistol round and didn't manage to steal the following two eco rounds, but once equipped with rifles, they hit back. The game closed as Niko outsmarted his opponents and killed the bomb planter with only a few seconds left in the round to secure a relatively comfortable victory for G2 Esports, 16-8.
Going into the third and final map of the series, G2 Esports started on the CT side but never managed to get their economy rolling or steal a round with a half-buy. Team Spirit ended the half with a 5-10 lead and looked primed to win the map. G2 Esports started to rally for a comeback and tied the game at 10-10 but Spirit fought back and took over control, sprinting towards a 10-16 win to secure the map and the series.
IEM Katowice 2021 is Team Spirit's coming-out party
It may seem like Team Spirit came out of nowhere to start taking down top opponents in IEM Katowice 2021. While picking a top squad like G2 Esports to take the win over them wasn't a bad call, Team Spirit has quietly looked very strong.
Team Spirit hasn't been incredibly consistent but showed that there's something special there at ESL One: Road to Rio CIS by taking first place. Strong performances in various other CIS events followed, but the team established itself as a serious contender and built a lot of momentum by winning Dreamhack Open January 2021. Their last loss was a group stage match during that event to Gambit Esports.
Team Spirit will face the winner of Heroic vs. BIG in the next round of the group stage. G2 Esports aren't eliminated yet, but are knocked down to the lower bracket and will face the loser of Heroic vs. BIG.
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