The second matchday of the IEM Katowice 2023 group stage saw BIG and Cloud9 knocked out of the US$500,000 event, with the latter defeated by the bottom-ranked team, IHC.
Cloud9 were impressive in their two play-in games, defeating IHC (16-5) and ENCE (2-1) to qualify for the main event, but that was where the winning stopped the world number 12.
After drawing Natus Vincere as their first opponent of the group stage, they were quickly despatched by the world number six and sent to the lower bracket to face the tournament’s surprise qualifier.
The all-Mongolian squad of IHC had already lost to Cloud9 in the play-in tournament, but since that loss they had sent two of the three Brazilian teams, paiN Gaming and FURIA, packing on their way to the group stage.
With Cloud9 being 24 spots higher than IHC in the CS:GO world rankings, many would be forgiven for thinking that the best-of-three series was a forgone conclusion.
No-one told IHC that, however, as the tournament’s lowest-ranked team took both Inferno and Mirage 16-14 to send Cloud9 packing.
Inferno | 16-14
Mirage | 16-14 pic.twitter.com/n7kgG6gDyJ
— Intel® Extreme Masters (@IEM) February 5, 2023
As for BIG, their series with Team Spirit was much more competitive as they went to a third and final map.
It wouldn’t have been a massive surprise if either of these teams were knocked out, with Spirit being ranked number 13 and BIG number 16 in the world.
However, with Spirit being led by Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov, they were able to reverse sweep the series and take it 2-1 after BIG claimed the first map of the series.
After a disappointing performance on map one from the Spirit roster, w0nderful led the charge in maps two and three, topping the scoreboard with a massive +29 kill-death differential and a series-high rating of 1.37.
Spirit and IHC will now move on to the lower-bracket semi-finals, with the Mongols drawing world number three FaZe Clan and Spirit facing world number four Liquid.