IHC march into IEM Katowice main stage; Grayhound bow out of Play-In in straight sets

It's back to the drawing board once more for Grayhound.

It might have been a brutal day one for Mongolian squad IHC Esports, but they rebounded in their elimination series in shocking fashion to qualify for the main stage of IEM Katowice.

After day one’s best-of-one openers, it seemed that both Asia-Pacific representatives in IHC Esports and Grayhound Gaming would make swift exits from the Polish play-in.

IHC showed little in their 5-16 defeat against Cloud9 on Mirage, while the Aussies and Kiwis at GH were left embarrassed following a 6-16 loss that saw the Oceanic squad take both pistols and conversions — but just two gun rounds on top.

Grayhound would fail to pass the second day of competition, going out swinging against MIBR 1-2 (13-16, 16-14, 2-16).

Despite a gargantuan effort from Josh “INS” Potter (31-20, 1.47 rating) on Inferno, numerous mistakes and a five-round streak from MIBR closed out the opening map, leaving Grayhound needing to win Anubis to stay in the hunt.

GH went down in overtime in their first Anubis official against Rooster at the ESL Pro League qualifier, and things were looking dire for the Aussies at 9-14.

But with five straight successful bomb plants and an insane one-versus-three clutch from Declan “Vexite” Portelli (19-19, 1.01 rating), the ‘Hounds bounced back to win seven straight, snatching the win away and staying alive.

At least, for about half an hour.

MIBR refreshed after Anubis and annihilated Grayhound in the decider on Vertigo, with just Simon “Sico” Williams (11-17, 0.65 rating) hitting double digit frags.

It was an anticlimactic end to Grayhound’s return to the international stage, with the squad back in action for ESL Pro League alongside Rooster in late February.

IHC overcome Brazilian double to reach Katowice main stage

Dumped unceremoniously by Cloud9 into the lower bracket, an IHC squad with stand-in Baatarkhuu “Bart4k” Batbold were forced into an all-Brazilian road to the group stage with matchups against paiN and FURIA ahead of them.

But the Mongolian squad kicked it off the right way against the ESL Challenger Melbourne champions, overcoming paiN 2-0 (16-12, 16-11) behind a monster performance from Tengis “sk0r” Batgaral (46-35, 1.30 rating, 2 maps).

But paiN? A cakewalk in comparison to the almighty FURIA, surely?

Evidently not, for IHC dispatched of the IEM Rio Major semi-finalists 2-1 (16-14, 16-19, 16-10) in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.

sk0r (28-20, 1.26 rating) was the lynchpin once again for IHC on Nuke, with six T rounds proving plenty as the Mongolians turned up the heat on FURIA.

IHC should have closed out the series on Mirage but at 15-11, the pressure became too much and FURIA capitalised; first tying and forcing overtime, then landing a flawless CT half to secure the second map and force Anubis.

The Brazilians held advantage into the first half at 9-6 but IHC found FURIA’s CT weakness early and continually exploited the B site for the bulk of their 10-1 T side.

Despite an above and beyond performance from Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato, it was the Mongolians snatching Anubis 16-10 and making the group stage.

It won’t be getting any easier for IHC — they begin their group stage against Team Liquid and will likely play Cloud9 or Natus Vincere in the following round.

Nicholas Taifalos
Nicholas Taifalos
Nicholas "Taffy" Taifalos got his start publishing the escapades of some of Australia's pioneers in Counter-Strike and Dota overseas. Now, he turns his eye to events closer to home, from grassroots projects to the height of Oceanic competition and everything in-between. He still hopes for the day Dota makes a glorious return to the pinnacle of OCE esports.



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