One of 2020’s pinnacle CS:GO events in IEM Katowice has concluded this weekend for the two Australian representatives 100 Thieves (5th-6th) and Renegades (14th-16th), and while they won’t be taking home the trophy, each squad impressed in their own way at one of the most stacked events in the esports history.
“This year we’re definitely coming into [the season] hunting trophies. Last year we made it to most of the playoffs – it was a good year, a good run, but this year we’re looking higher.” – Joakim ‘jkaem’ Myrbostad, 100 Thieves
Renegades entered the top-heavy Polish event off the back of a brilliant 2nd place finish at DreamHack Open Leipzig, but the competition would prove just too strong for the young Australian squad, going down in their group stage admirably to Swedish world #4 Fnatic and world #9 FaZe Clan.
It was a rough opening best-of-three for RNG against three-time Katowice champions Fnatic, picking Dust2 but struggling to make a mark on their T side as Jesper “JW” Weksell’s AWP proved too much – the Swedes would win Renegades’ map pick 16-4.
Inferno was a different story. This time starting on defence Liam ‘malta’ Schembri (25-18, 1.21 rating) set about forcing a third map with a rock-solid hold on the B site, while Joshua ‘INS’ Potter (23-22, 1.09) & Christopher ‘dexter’ Nong (20-19, 1.08 rating) worked magic across both bomb sites to see RNG ahead in a strong 10-5 half.
Winning T pistol then breaking back after losing the anti-eco, the Renegades kept the CT economy low and locked in a 14-6 lead. But three defuses in four bomb plants from Fnatic had Renegades forcing a buy, and from there the Swedish squad put up a veritable wall on defence. Fnatic would ultimately finish the map with 10 straight rounds, knocking Renegades into the lower bracket 16-14.
Renegades in-game leader Dexter (22-22, 1.20) came alive in their elimination match against European supersquad FaZe Clan, helping the boys recover a lightning-fast 0-8 deficit with seven straight rounds on their T side on Inferno. With help from AWPer Simon ‘Sico’ Williams (17-21, 0.79) RNG found the gaps in the defence to almost level the scores, but FaZe got right to work on their offence and an early five round stretch proved too much for RNG to recover from, losing 12-16.
FaZe would not allow Renegades an opportunity on CT Mirage, with another lightning-fast 7-0 lead before INS (19-17, 1.05) broke the deadlock. However, FaZe would break right back, ultimately claiming a monster 12-3 lead on T side and while subsequent bomb plants and successful executes followed for Renegades, the Europeans’ lead was just too great, winning the map and series 16-10.
100 Thieves’ starting form in 2020 was questioned following a straight sets exit at BLAST, and their plan to return to the Katowice stage began shockingly in a 16-3, 16-2 series loss to G2 Esports – meaning a full lower bracket run would be needed.
“I mean it’s great, it’s kind of our style of tournament – we drop down to the lower bracket, then come back up again and end up in the playoffs, it’s just our thing I guess.” – Aleksandar ‘kassad’ Trifunović, 100 Thieves
A postmortem discussion within the team and a win over a new look TYLOO would spark self-confidence in the lineup, but it was their following series against rivals Evil Geniuses that would truly enable their dream of repeat Katowice playoff appearances. The 100T core were without a win in their previous ten outings against the world #5 lineup and dropping their opening pick to EG 16-12 meant the team looked like another series lost to the North Americans.
But it was on Nuke where 100T bounced back. Aaron ‘AZR’ Ward (27-18, 1.42) and Joakim ‘jkaem’ Myrbostad (26-19, 1.42) combined on the CT side to lead the boys to a huge 12-3 lead that, despite EG’s best efforts, became unassailable – 100T took Nuke 16-12 and forced Dust 2.
Sean ‘Gratisfaction’ Kaiwai (21-18, 1.23) began the map 0-9 as EG sprinted ahead 8-2 but after a shaky three-kill round he began to dominate. Gratisfaction turned up the heat to recover the half 7-8, turning a 0-9 start into a 12-10 leading effort, and continued to torment with the AWP on T as once more 100T’s resilience prevailed 16-12.
100 Thieves faced world #2 Mousesports in the lower bracket final, and once again the Oceanic core would find themselves on the back foot after dropping their own map pick of Inferno 16-12. A narrow 8-7 lead was capitalised upon by jkaem (19-13, 1.39 rating) and the 100 Thieves strung together eight of the next nine rounds to win 16-8 and force Nuke.
“I think everyone was pretty composed in general, [myself] and Aleks [kassad] made a game plan before the match and everything went to plan. It was pretty chaotic to begin with but we pulled through.” – Aaron ‘AZR’ Ward, 100 Thieves
Neither team could be separated at the half but this favoured the 100 Thieves T side, and a follow-up pistol round defuse on CT had the Thieves set. Mousesports began stringing rounds together and breaking the CT economy, but continual losses to Justin ‘jks’ Savage (18-21, 1.07) at ramp as well as Jay ‘Liazz’ Tregillgas (22-14, 1.25) kept 100T just ahead, eventually falling to the Aussie contingent 16-14.
With the coronavirus outbreak keeping doors shut at Spodek Arena, 100 Thieves took to an otherwise empty stage against Fnatic in the quarter-final. Struggling to break the Swedish defence it looked like 100 Thieves would once more give away their Inferno map pick but heroics from jks (29-19, 1.35) helped 100T recover a 6-14, then 9-15, to tie up the map at 15-15. It wasn’t to be for the Thieves in overtime, securing one CT round but ultimately going down 19-16.
Jks (31-20, 1.36) kept his form on the stage on Mirage and together with jkaem (30-25, 1.23) had 100T ahead on their CT half 10-5, and the Thieves were once again pressuring their opponent on their own map pick at 13-6 following the T side pistol. However, numerous anti-eco losses stung 100T, and Fnatic pounced through Freddy ‘KRIMZ’ Johansson (29-17, 1.32) and JW (28-24, 1.18).
Mounting their own comeback, the Swedes pushed at 12-15 down to tie up the game and, once again keeping 100T to one round, took the map 19-16 and the series 2-0, ending the Aussies’ run in heartbreaking fashion in 5th-6th.
Renegades now return to Australia to prepare for the ESL One Rio Asia Minor Qualifier next week before joining 100 Thieves at Season 11 of ESL Pro League later in March.