The first Upper Bracket Quarter-Final of Group B of the IEM Katowice 2021 Main Events pits two European powerhouses – Vitality and OG – together. The two teams will battle it out for a place into the Upper Bracket Semi-Final, where they will meet the winner of FaZe CLAN and Team Liquid. The loser will be knocked down into the Lower Bracket and will face the loser of the FaZe-Liquid matchup.
Road to Katowice
Remy ‘XTQZZZ’ Quoniam shocked the CSGO fraternity after the announcement that Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire will be taking an indefinite break from competitive csgo due to personal reasons. Vitality have qualified easily for IEM Katowice 2021 by ranking second in the European part of the Road to Katowice table. But, apEX’s unavailability might put added pressure on the team. Alternatively, this will provide a chance for Vitality to give an extended run of games to Nabil ‘Nivera’ Benrlitom. It will be interesting to see whether the Belgian grabs the opportunity and makes a run for it to stake a claim for a permanent starting berth.
For OG, the road was far from easy. Qualifying for the Play-In via the European rankings of the Road to Katowice circuit, OG grabbed an easy win over Fnatic before losing in excruciating fashion to Team Liquid. The decider saw them face another North American organization in Cloud9. As has been the case with both teams, they traded each other’s map picks before OG won the series thanks to a dominant performance on the Attack side on the decider, Dust2.
The two teams have played each other just once in the last six months, with Vitality coming on top in the best-of-3 match at the European edition of cs_summit 6, albeit only edging OG on Overpass after a Quadruple Overtime. OG had a disappointing run at the BLAST Premier Spring 2021 Group Stages, bowing out after straight series defeats to Astralis and BIG.
Vitality, on the other hand, have had an eventful start to the new year, with allegations of stream sniping earning them a 10,000 USD fine by ESIC. As far as results are concerned, Vitality were on the receiving end of a fate identical to OG, bowing out of BLAST Premier Springs 2021 Group Stage after losing to the likes of Evil Geniuses and Complexity.
Their 3rd placed finish at the BLAST Premier 2020 Global Finals was also far from satisfactory and with apEX on an indefinite break, Vitality will have their task cut out in their bid to have a successful campaign at IEM Katowice 2021.
Map Pick Prediction (Dust2, Mirage, Overpass)
Vitality is just not comfortable on Train and will continue to ban the map. OG will do the same with Vertigo for the same reasons. The French stack might prefer Dust2 over Overpass against OG, with the European lineup often picking the map themselves. OG will be aware of Vitality’s comfort levels on Overpass and might try to steer the tie into a different direction by picking Mirage for themselves. Neither side has been too fond of Inferno recently, which means we should see the map being banned by one of the two. OG should ban Nuke to take it to Overpass but can also throw a curveball by pushing Nuke into the Decider.
Predicted Result (Vitality 1-2 OG)
Should we get the map picks predicted above, with the shrunk map pool for the two teams consisting mainly of Dust2, Mirage, Overpass, and Nuke, this matchup could end being a brilliant one for the neutrals. Ideally, with apEX not available, OG should be favored to get this over the line. However, the European lineup has looked far from their usual levels and could face relatively greater firepower in the form of the current Vitality lineup that will feature Nivera.
You can bet on your favourite team to win, with Vitality still the team to bet according to sites like Hajperodds.
Also, since apEX will be on an indefinite break, we could see XTQZZZ take up the proverbial IGL role, with the in-game calling left to Richard ‘shox’ Papillon. This matchup looks like one that will go down to the wire, with a third map almost a certainty, on paper at least. While either result is possible here, we expect OG to edge out Vitality mainly due to the apEX factor.