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Cloud9 open Group Stage with win at IEM Cologne

Jan 26, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Fans react as the Minnesota Rokkr battle the Toronto Ultra during the Call of Duty League Launch Weekend at The Armory. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Cloud9 continued their quest for a second straight IEM title by sweeping Outsiders on the first day of Group Stage action Thursday at the Intel Extreme Masters Season XVII in Cologne, Germany.

Cloud9, which won IEM Dallas last month, was one of six teams to advance in the upper brackets of their groups Thursday. Team Spirit joined Cloud9 in Group B and Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Movistar Riders and Team Vitality all notched wins in Group A.

Sixteen teams are still alive in the $1 million IEM Cologne event, split into two groups of eight. From there, six teams will qualify for the Playoff Stage with the grand final set for July 17.

The Group Stage features two double-elimination brackets, where all matches are best-of-three. Group winners will advance to the semifinals of the Playoff Stage and the second- and third-place finishers will move to the playoff quarterfinals.

Cloud9 beat Outsiders 16-6 on Dust II and 16-12 on Ancient for the sweep, finishing the match with a 12-1 run. Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov of Russia led the way for Cloud9 with 42 kills and a plus-17 kills-to-deaths differential.

Team Spirit squeaked past Team Liquid 2-1 with some late heroics. Liquid won 16-8 on Dust II to start off before Spirit drew even with a 16-9 triumph on Overpass. The third map, Ancient, went into double overtime as Spirit rallied to tie the score 15-15 and 18-18. Spirit pulled ahead late for the decisive 22-20 win.

Russia’s Robert “Patsi” Isyanov tallied 80 kills for Spirit and Ukraine’s Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov added 64 kills on a match-high plus-11 K-D.

NaVi defeated MOUZ 2-1 in Group A, taking a 16-12 decision on Nuke, dropping Mirage 16-14 and rebounding with a 16-6 win on Inferno. Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev of Ukraine had 71 kills on a plus-22 differential to pace NaVi.

Vitality beat ENCE, also by a 2-1 score. After winning 16-10 on Nuke and losing 16-12 on Dust II, Vitality took the deciding map 16-7 on Mirage. They were led by Frenchman Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut (62 kills, plus-19) and Dane Emil “Magisk” Reif (61 kills, plus-12).

Ninjas in Pyjamas swept Heroic 2-0 with matching 16-13 wins on Ancient and Inferno. Sweden’s Hampus “hampus” Poser (52 kills) and Denmark’s Patrick “es3tag” Hansen (45 kills) both posted plus-17 differentials for NiP.

Movistar Riders defeated G2 2-0 with a 16-12 victory on Vertigo and a 16-9 triumph on Inferno. Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia carried the all-Spanish squad with 42 kills and a plus-21.

The Group Stage continues Friday with six matches:
–Natus Vincere vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas (Group A: upper bracket, Round 2)
–Movistar Riders vs. Team Vitality (Group A: upper bracket, Round 2)
–MOUZ vs. Heroic (Group A: lower bracket, Round 1)
–G2 Esports vs. ENCE (Group A: lower bracket, Round 1)
–FaZe Clan vs. 00 Nation (Group B: upper bracket, Round 1)
–Astralis vs. FURIA Esports (Group B: upper bracket, Round 1)

Intel Extreme Masters Season XVII – Cologne prize pool and points distribution:
1. $400,000, 3,200 BLAST Premier points
2. $180,000, 1,600 BLAST Premier points
3-4. $80,000, 1,000 BLAST Premier points
5-6. $40,000, 300 BLAST Premier points
7-8. $24,000, 300 BLAST Premier points
9-12. $16,000, no BLAST Premier points
13-16. $10,000, no BLAST Premier points
17-20. $4,500, no BLAST Premier points — Sprout, BIG, Imperial Esports, TYLOO
21-24. $2,500, no BLAST Premier points — paiN Gaming, Complexity Gaming, ORDER, MIBR

–Field Level Media