Sprout emerged as the Group A winner on Wednesday, stamping their spot in the semifinals of the Elisa Masters Espoo in Espoo, Finland.
In a busy opening day filled with best-of-one matches, Sprout took their group by winning four of five matches — with two of their victories ending in overtime.
ENCE also finished 4-1 in the group, but their 19-16 overtime loss to Sprout on Ancient cost them an unbeaten record and automatic semifinal berth. Instead, as the second-place team in Group A, ENCE was placed in the quarters.
BIG was the only squad to win a map against Sprout, taking their second match of the day by a 16-11 final on Vertigo. But after a 3-0 start on Wednesday, BIG dropped their final two battles to finish third in the group — also earning a spot in the quarterfinals.
The $200,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event began with 12 teams initially parsed into two groups, with each team playing five best-of-one matches in the group stage. The top three teams from each group qualify for the playoffs, with group-stage winners earning semifinal berths. Group runners-up clinch spots in quarterfinals as the high seeds, with third-place teams tabbed as the low seeds.
Once the single-elimination playoffs are set, all matches are best-of-three. The champion will make $100,000 and earn a spot in the play-in portion of the $1 million IEM Katowice event scheduled for Jan. 31-Feb. 12 in Katowice, Poland.
Sprout started with a 16-14 comeback win over HEET on Ancient, a match that included four lead changes. After losing to BIG, Sprout defeated ENCE before helping oust HAVU Gaming 16-8 on Inferno and GamerLegion in a triple-overtime 25-23 showdown on Overpass. Laurentiu “lauNX” Tarlea of Romania led Sprout in kills in three of their five matches, posting 127 kills on the day.
ENCE started with a 16-12 win over HAVU on Nuke, then defeated GamerLegion 16-10 on Vertigo before suffering their only loss of the day against Sprout. But ENCE responded with back-to-back wins, downing HEET 16-9 on Ancient and BIG 16-9 on Mirage. Montenegro’s Pavle “Maden” Boskovic recorded 113 kills in the five matches, the most on the ENCE squad.
BIG scored the final five points to steal a 16-13 win against HEET on Dust II before their big win against Sprout. BIG then moved to 3-0 after nearly blowing a 14-7 lead before prevailing 19-15 in overtime against HAVU on Mirage. But consecutive losses to GamerLegion (16-14 on Overpass, after BIG once led 12-3) and ENCE cost BIG first place in the group. Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz topped the all-German BIG team with 120 kills combined.
HEET and GameLegion each finished 2-3 in the group while HAVU went winless, with all three clubs being eliminated.
Group B kicks off on Thursday with each of its teams playing one match against every other side. The clubs competing are 500, Astralis, Bad News Eagles, Complexity, Fnatic and SAW.
Intel Extreme Masters XVII Rio Major prize pool:
1. $100,000, qualify for IEM Katowice 2023 Play-In
7-8. $4,000 — HEET, TBD
9-10. $4,000 — Team GamerLegion, TBD
11-12. $4,000 — HAVU Gaming, TBD
–Field Level Media