BIG, OG, Ninjas in Pyjamas and Cloud9 each won two matches on Wednesday to advance to the group stage of the Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland.
The $1 million Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament began Wednesday with the 16-team, double-elimination play-in stage, which will determine the last eight spots in the group stage. First-round play-in matches consisted of a single map, while all other play-in matches are best-of-three.
The four teams that advanced on Wednesday join the eight teams that were already seeded into the group stage: Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, Heroic, MOUZ, Team Vitality and Outsiders.
Group play runs from Saturday through Tuesday, with two eight-team groups competing in a double-elimination format of best-of-three matches. The two group winners advance to the semifinals of the single-elimination playoffs. The two group runners-up go the playoff quarterfinals as high seeds, and the third-place teams from each group head to the playoff quarterfinals as low seeds.
The best-of-three quarterfinals are scheduled for Feb. 10, and the best-of-three semifinals are set for Feb. 11. The winner of the best-of-five grand final on Feb. 12 will earn $400,000 and a berth in the $1 million IEM Cologne event scheduled for July 25-Aug. 6 in Germany.
In Wednesday action, BIG beat Complexity 16-12 on Anubis before rallying past FURIA Esports 2-1. FURIA took Anubis 16-11, but BIG came back to claim Mirage 16-9 and Ancient 16-9. Nils "k1to" Gruhne paced BIG's all-German roster against FURIA with 70 kills and a plus-15 kill-death differential.
OG needed overtime to slip past Sprout 19-16 on Inferno, then came from behind to defeat Fnatic 2-1. After Fnatic's 16-11 victory on Overpass, OG prevailed 16-6 on Mirage and 16-8 on Inferno. Israel's Shahar "flameZ" Shushan logged 53 kills and a plus-15 K-D differential for OG against Fnatic.
Ninjas in Pyjamas topped MIBR 16-13 on Nuke, then swept Team Spirit 2-0, winning 16-7 on Nuke and 16-8 on Mirage. Ukraine's Daniil "headtr1ck" Valitov compiled 37 kills and a plus-17 K-D differential for Ninjas in Pyjamas versus Spirit.
Cloud9 routed IHC Esports 16-5 on Mirage, then defeated ENCE 2-1. After Cloud9 took Anubis 16-10, ENCE equalized with a 16-8 victory on Inferno. On the decisive third map, Vertigo, Cloud9 overturned a 12-8 deficit and earned a 16-13 win. Russia's Dmitry "sh1ro" Sokolov registered 61 kills and a plus-20 K-D differential for Cloud9 against ENCE.
In other Wednesday first-round action, FURIA defeated Permitta Esports 16-4 on Mirage, Fnatic got past Evil Geniuses 16-8 on Inferno, Spirit downed Grayhound Gaming 16-6 on Nuke and ENCE battled past paiN Gaming 16-7 on Vertigo.
The Thursday lower-bracket schedule:
--Permitta Esports vs. Complexity, winner to face ENCE on Friday
--Evil Geniuses vs. Sprout, winner to face Team Spirit on Friday
--Grayhound Gaming vs. MIBR, winner to face Fnatic on Friday
--paiN Gaming vs. IHC Esports, winner to face FURIA Esports on Friday
Intel Extreme Masters Katowice prize pool
1. $400,000, berth in IEM Cologne
--Field Level Media