After a marathon group stage featuring a best-of-three Swiss format (it was just as grueling was you’re imagining), it’s finally time for the playoffs of SL i-League Season 4. While most of the action proceeded according to plan, Cloud9 failing to make it into the playoffs after their historic win at the ELEAGUE Major: Boston was certainly quite the shocker. Cloud9’s absence aside, however, there is plenty to look forward to in these playoffs.
Team Liquid vs. SK Gaming
Both teams are coming into the playoffs with 3-1 record during the group stage. Liquid got off to bumpy start with a 2-1 loss to Astralis on Day 1, but then rattled off three wins in a row to secure their playoff spot. SK, meanwhile, tallied three 2-0 wins with a 2-1 loss to mousesports sandwiched in the middle.
This one is a bit of a tricky one to evaluate. While this is a matchup that usually would be a slam dunk for a team like SK, Liquid did manage to come away with a 2-0 win when they last played at cs_summit 2 just a couple weeks back. With Keith “NAF” Markovic and Lucas “steel” Lopes in tow, Liquid is looking revitalized and ready to take on the world. For that reason, I’ve got to go with recent results and give this one to Liquid in a close 2-1 series.
FaZe Clan vs. Renegades
*gulps* What a rough draw for Renegades here. The Australians barely squeaked into the playoffs after having to play a decider match against HellRaisers on the last day of groups. After the high of winning an elimination match, they have to go right into a match with one of the best teams in the league in FaZe Clan. Sure, Cloud9 proved that FaZe could bleed in Boston, that was Cloud9 and it took three games and over 40 rounds on Inferno to do. Not only that, but FaZe has been on a tear thus far during StarLadder. They 2-0’d TyLoo and Cloud9 before beating a capable Natus Vincere team 2-1 to advance as the top seed. As such, FaZe should pick up an easy 2-0 win in this series.
mousesports vs. G2 Esports
Give credit to mouz for sweeping the defending Major Champions of Cloud9 during the final elimination game to make it into the playoffs. Unfortunately for mouz, however, that will likely be the end of their run for all intents and purposes. They already lost to G2 in admittedly close 2-1 series during the group stages, and much shouldn’t change here. Sure, “any given Sunday” and all that jazz. But it’s hard to stop this G2 team when everyone, including Kenny “kennyS” Schrub, are playing on top of their games. Since mouz does have phenom Robin “ropz” Kool in tow, I’ll give them a game, but G2 should be left standing at the end of the day.
Natus Vincere vs. Astralis
This series will likely be the most exciting of the quarterfinals. These teams are very evenly matched, with some powerful stars on each side. While Astralis has Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, Na’Vi have Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, who is frequently touted as the best player in the world. While Na’Vi may have had to play in one of the elimination matches to even make the playoffs, their two losses were to FaZe and SK. That being said, they both played Gambit Esports and Heroic, and while both teams won, Astralis took the teams down 2-0 and Na’Vi needed three games to get the win.
At the end of the day, this one comes down to which side has the better “team.” Sure, s1mple is almost always playing out of his mind and giving his team a shot at victory. But more often than not these days, his teammates can’t pull their weight. Because of that, I have to give this one to Astralis ina 2-1 series. S1mple will get them close, but Astralis’ overall team strength will win out in the end.
All four series are being played back-to-back-to-back-to-back, so settle in for some high-powered Counter-Strike action. It all begins Friday at 6 a.m. ET with Team Liquid taking on SK Gaming.