We have our Intel Extreme Masters Katowice champions. After outclassing FaZe Clan 3-1 on Sunday, Astralis have won the $100,000 first place prize, as well as their second consecutive major tournament. Let's look at how it all unfolded.
Starting the series off on Cache, FaZe made it messy early on. Havard "rain" Nygaard cashed in a force-buy triple kill, and Nikola "NiKo" Kovac's vaunted Desert Eagle was sharp, pressuring Astralis even when FaZe was at a weapon or man disadvantage.
Former Astralis in-game leader Finn "karrigan" Andersen wouldn't let his old team get into a rhythm, and FaZe began to dictate the tempo. In particular, Andreas "Xyp9x" Hojselth and Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz were uncharacteristically shaky. Xyp9x carelessly pushed into his own death a few times, while dev1ce's famed AWP couldn't find its target. FaZe's confidence skyrocketed after Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey clutched a 1-vs-2 to end the half 9-6 for FaZe.
In the second half, Astralis continued to struggle with FaZe's ability to convert high-risk challenges. They had no answers in extended fights, and when karrigan pulled off a textbook 1-vs-3 post-plant clutch for the CT side, Astralis folded and FaZe rode to a 16-9 win.
On the second map, Overpass, Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen ensured that Astralis started much better than in the first game, with his triple kill in the opening pistol round being just a taste of things to come. FaZe didn't bat an eye and rolled out to an early lead, and kioShiMa clutched yet another 1-vs-2 to end the half 9-6 for FaZe.
Just as the FaZe snowball was reaching critical mass, dupreeh, armed with only a Desert Eagle against all rifles, came up with an early contender for Play of the Year. Threatening to be overrun in the B-site, dupreeh used expert marksmanship to methodically pick off members of FaZe Clan left and right as they came pouring into the site. He secured the clean ace, the crowd erupted and FaZe were forced into a tactical pause to pick their jaws up off the ground.
FaZe rebounded with a gutsy B-hit, and leveled the map at 12 rounds apiece, but Astralis adjusted their defense, forcing FaZe to shift their attack to the A-site. Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye, however, held a vice grip on the Connector area, which funneled FaZe towards dev1ce's AWP. Astralis edged the map out 16-12, tying the series at 1-1.
The action shifted to Nuke for the critical Game 3. While the team with better Outside area control usually controls the action on Nuke, Astralis bucked that trend by conceding the Outside area early on in favor of Nuke's other fulcrums like Secret, Squeaky Door and Lower Ramp. Dupreeh was especially immovable at Squeaky Door, shutting it off from FaZe singlehandedly. As a result, Astralis easily read the movements of FaZe's entry fraggers, and FaZe were forced to react to Astralis' tempo. When FaZe sent multiple members to dislodge dupreeh at Squeaky Door, Kjaerbye had his teammate's back from the Horse area. FaZe were trapped in Astralis' rhythm, and were at risk of strategic suffocation, ending the half down 10-5.
FaZe desperately searched for answers in the second half. They found a big play when Aleksi "allu" Jalli, with only a tenth of a second to react, hit an incredible no-scope onto Kjaerbye after dropping down from Ladder, cutting into the lead. But dupreeh clutched the next round with three blink-and-you-miss-it headshots to outlast FaZe 16-12 and take a 2-1 lead.
With their backs against the wall, NiKo took the fight to Astralis at the Banana area on the final map of Inferno. Still, FaZe needed someone else to step up, and allu answered the call with a devastating AWP ace at the Mid area. FaZe ended the half strong, but Astralis still led 9-6.
Everything started to come together for FaZe in the second half. karrigan opened up with a quad kill, kioShiMa wreaked havoc at the T-side Balcony area and rain was finding trade-kills at will. Then Kjaerbye, armed with only a Desert Eagle, locked down Apartments to shut down FaZe and steal a round Astralis shouldn't have won.
The next few rounds were a seesaw. Both teams grappled for Banana control until, at one point, a tactical pause was called in three consecutive rounds. The critical moment came with the map tied 13-13. Sitting at the A-site, dev1ce held a tiny window of opportunity in his crosshairs. He showed great patience to pass up an easy kill in favor of waiting for two more members of FaZe Clan to wander into his sights like deer on hunting grounds. Dev1ce got the easy double kill to win the round, and Astralis never looked back. They won the next two rounds to claim the map 16-13 and take the IEM Katowice crown.