Astralis and FaZe sweep to reach grand finals at IEM Katowice

Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander of Astralis. Provided by Patrick Strack / ESL

Saturday's IEM Katowice semifinals in Katowice, Poland, are over, setting the stage for the grand finals on Sunday. FaZe Clan defeated Immortals 2-0, and reigning major champions Astralis also swept its opponent, Heroic, to come within striking distance of the $100,000 first prize.

FaZe impresses against Immortals

The series began on the recently reworked Inferno, and FaZe leaned on its superstar, Nikoa "NiKo" Kovac, to jump out to a menacing lead. After losing the initial pistol round, NiKo went nuclear with four Deagle kills in the second, and all of a sudden FaZe looked supremely confident. For a moment, FaZe looked like it might run away with Inferno.

That is, until it got sloppy and lost a round it shouldn't have. Down 8-2, Immortals stole a win in an eco round, and vaulted back into the game thanks to a dialed in Henrique "hen1" Teles. By the time the sides switched for the second half, Immortals were well within shouting distance with hen1 and Lucas "lucas1" Teles leading the charge. But FaZe were able to weather the storm with an airtight assault of the B site, winning Inferno 16-9.

The second map, Mirage, kicked off with an explosive pistol round, with both teams trading highlight-reel one-taps in Immortals' favor. Despite losing the pistol round, FaZe's Finn "karrigan" Andersen drilled two difficult Deagle shots at the Connector area to yank the advantage back in FaZe's favor. Immortals did not fold, however, and Ricardo "boltz" Prass miraculously held the B site in a 1-vs-4 like it was the Battle of the Alamo. A few rounds later, hen1 clutched a 1-vs-3 with a nasty A-site lurk, and the Brazilians took a 9-6 lead after a back-and-forth half.

The second half was just as tense. FaZe's CT side had a strangling grip on the A site. Immortals' T side had a clear edge around Mid and Connector. But FaZe found the upper hand with a double-AWP setup and closed out Mirage 16-10. NiKo was a monster, posting an astonishing 53/28 KD as well as a 109.0 ADR (Average Damage per Round) during the series.

Astralis conquers Heroic

The Cinderella story at IEM Katowice so far, Heroic looked to add another upset to its run, jumping out to a stunning 5-0 lead against Astralis on the first map, Train. Despite Astralis' notorious mastery of Train, Heroic starved out Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz' AWP by striking at the teeth of Astralis' attack in the Brownhalls area, which dev1ce didn't have good control over. When Heroic's Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen drilled a multispray at Lower Ramp to give his team a 7-2 run, Astralis were left scratching its heads, leading in-game leader Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander to call a tactical pause.

The pause worked wonders, and Astralis turned the tide when, in Round 12, dev1ce hit a ridiculous no-scope on a jumping opponent, followed by two Deagle shots to net a triple kill. Heroic's economy dipped into dire territory, and Astralis clawed its way back to an 8-7 halftime deficit. Heroic fought back with a few breathtaking Deagle shots from niko, but Astralis let Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann and gla1ve put the clamps on the Pop Dog area, and played dev1ce's dominant AWP around the B site. Astralis took the surprisingly hard-fought map 16-12.

With Heroic on the ropes, the series went to its map pick Nuke, where it has dominated the likes of North and Virtus.pro at IEM Katowice. It was Astralis, however, that won the pistol round and earned a 3-0 lead. After Astralis found early picks onto the bomb carrier in consecutive rounds, Heroic were looking down the barrel of a 5-0 deficit on the T side. It rebounded with textbook communication around the A site and the Vents area. But it was Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjaerbye that had the last laugh of the half with a big quad-kill to give Astralis a 12-3 lead.

Heroic mounted a furious comeback after Andreas "MODDII" Fridh began racking up the entry frags, but Astralis recomposed itself and closed out the map 16-12.

FaZe Clan and Astralis will square off for IEM Katowice gold on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. EST.