Frontrunners bounce back at ESL One Katowice after shaky first day

The top dogs successfully survived the lower bracket after falling down early.

Image via Valve

Fans of Team Liquid, OG, Newbee, and Evil Geniuses can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

In yesterday’s group stage action at ESL One Katowice, all four teams navigated their way through the lower bracket without much trouble. With the exception of OG, each of the teams handled their respective opponents without losing a single game.

Maroun “GH” Merhej took the spotlight for himself yesterday, thanks to a stellar performance on his signature Keeper of the Light versus OpTic Gaming. Once again, GH proved why you should never let KotL through the draft against Liquid.

The sheer power of KotL’s counterpush with Illuminate was too much for OpTic to deal with in the late game, which was then followed up by Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi’s own push with Terrorblade.

All four lineups are now one step closer towards the playoffs, though they will now have to fight amongst each other in order to grab those coveted qualification points for The International 8. OG will face Liquid for the first spot in the quarterfinals, while EG, Team Kinguin, LGD Gaming, and Newbee will play for survival in the final round of Group B.

Meanwhile, in the upper bracket, Vici Gaming will be put to the test against the on-fire Virtus Pro, while Fnatic will take on Team Secret. Given the difference in sheer skill and consistency between the favorites and the underdogs in both matches, Secret and VP will be expected to clinch the semifinal seeds without breaking a sweat.

However, considering that VG were the ones that send Liquid to the lower bracket in the first place, it’s clear that they came to this event prepared to take on the top teams. Things might not go so smoothly for VP—especially if VG can carry their momentum forward and keep their cool against such fearsome opponents.

On the other hand, Filipino prodigy Abed “Abed” Yusop will have to make some real magic happen for Fnatic to overcome Secret. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and his teammates have been on a serious roll since the tournament began, having won every single game they’ve played so far. Even this early on, they already look poised to take the whole event for themselves.

The third day of ESL One Katowice begins at 5am CT.