The VulkanBet Invitational Group A Recap

The VulkanBet Invitational is a $20,000 CS:GO tournament. It has GSL style groups with a bo3 playoff. The invitational has 8 teams competing across two groups. VulkanBet Invitational Group A consists of Virtus.pro, LDLC, ex-3DMAX, and Nemiga. Group B has Alternate aTTax, Epsilon, Havu, and SJ. As you might see from the teams here, it is a good mix of the veteran players and rising talent.

For example, a team like Virtus.pro are part of this old guard. It no longer includes players from the golden five, but they still have individuals like Snax and Byali. It should be a formidable roster, but they have been on a downward trajectory. They are the worst ranked team in the event, being placed at 87th in the world. An invitational like this is a great way to prove they are still capable of competing.

As for rising talent, Epsilon is one of the teams that comes to mind. After their performance at Charleroi Esports, they have garnered attention from the community. This mixture of old, young, new, experienced and inexperienced is simply delightful. The Vulkanbet Invitational is the right battleground to show a team’s expertise.

VulkanBet Invitational Group A Opening Matches

ex-3DMAX vs Nemiga

The first match of the VulkanBet Invitational Group A. The number one team in Belarus going up against the 3rd team in France. However, these are two teams that lurk in the shadows of tier2/tier3 Counter-Strike. They tend to compete against a similar level of opposition. So no wonder that their most played maps include inferno, Dust2, and Mirage.

For this particular match, the veto landed on Mirage. This is a map both teams tend to leave open. Its something you can pick-up on their veto’s. It will come as a first ban, only when the opponent they are playing against is a specialist of Mirage. In other cases, they leave it as a decider or allow a lesser opponent to pick it.

As the battlefield was set, ex-3DMAX came out swinging. They had a very aggressive terrorist side approach. They wouldn’t be phased by any molotov’s or smokes from the Belarussians. The Frenchmen would hit a site guns blazing and the cts had a difficult time. Once Nemiga began abandoning mid presence and focusing purely on the sites, that’s when 5 rounds where won. Things didn’t get much better for Nemiga on the terrorist side. Ex-3DMAX won the opening pistol round and secured a flurry of rounds to 15. After a brief 4 round stint from Nemiga, ex-3DMAX secured a 1v1 to win the Mirage 16-9.

LDLC vs Virtus.Pro

The LDLC roster is a newly established team. Yet, the composition is looking somewhat weird. You have 3 possible in-game leaders, that’d be MAJ3R, Happy and XMS. There also doesn’t seem to be a star player on their team. Maybe, they’re hoping that Roden, the newcomer, fills the igl shoes.

On the other hand, you have Virtus.pro, who have made massive roster changes themselves. They’ve now added Vegi, a player from another Polish team called Pact. From what we’ve seen of him at Charleroi Esports, he had a good individual performance. That’s a good sign for this Polish team. As the veto took place, the teams landed on Nuke.

This is a map Virtus.pro have tried playing in the past but lost 4/6 times they played. They’ve lost to Nemiga, Sprout, and Optic, just to name a few. For LDLC this was their first official match Nuke, so it was hard to grasp their level on the map.

Nonetheless, the Frenchmen had a good start by winning the pistol round. But their success didn’t last too long. Virtus.pro began exploiting the upper bombsite defensive, which wasn’t held properly at the start. Once the members of LDLC realized what was going, VP began changing their avenues of attack. This led to a tight scoreline between the two teams. But for a lot of the half, the ct side of LDLC was struggling in the money department. This led to a half score of 9-6 in favor of VP. Then it was a matter of closing out the game for Virtuus.pro. But the French showed resilience and even tied the scoreline 10-10. But alas, once VP had their cash flow secured on the ct side, they began winning consecutive rounds in a row. This led to the eventual victory of 16-12.

VulkanBet Invitational Group A Winner’s Match

ex-3DMAX vs Virtus.pro

These are two teams that won their opening matches at the Vulkanbet Invitational Group A and were fighting for a slot in the playoffs. The stage was set and Nuke was the deciding map. The French started things on the ct side, while the Poles where on the terrorist side. Even after losing the pistol round, ex-3DMAX got up to a nice 4-2 lead. But the half score was close between the two teams. As the half ended 8-7 in favor of the French, the real fun would begin on the 2nd half.

Ex-3DMAX had a similar style at play, as we saw in the Mirage game against Nemiga. Ex-3DMAX were very quick on their aggressive pushes. This allowed securing an impressive 15-9 lead. This is where the French needed one more round and they win the game.

But on the 25th round, we witness a whacky push from the French. They had 4 players coming out of the orange squeaky door on the upper bombsite. They were easily shut down by VP and afterward, they began winning round after round. Suddenly, the scoreline was 15-15.

Overtime was a truly enthralling affair. Individual performances were the main reason for a team’s success. Even though Snax won an impressive 1v2 on the upper bombsite on the ct side, it was no match for what the Frenchmen pulled off on their ct side. With an AUG in hand, DavidP shut down 4 players in the outside area. In the last round of the game, we saw Hadji pick up 3 kills with the awp, whilst holding A. These performances led to an ex-3DMAX victory at 19-17.

VulkanBet Invitational Group A Elimination Match

Nemiga vs LDLC

A do or die scenario for both teams. But an important match for the Frenchmen. Could this possibly be another event where they finish dead last? It turned out that the map shall be Inferno. Nemiga have got a lot of experience on Inferno. This is their most played map in online Counter-Strike with a win percentage of 57% these past 3 months. LDLC, however, have played the map in Charleroi Esports. But it was a lackluster map. They lost it 16-4 to Sprout and made a comeback against the inexperienced team FrostFire to secure a 16-14 score.

Pretty early on the French had a difficult time on the terrorist side.  They’ve tried time and time again to change up the pace. But they would hardly get comfortable, as Nemiga had a very aggressive ct side. And that aggression would always net them an early kill. It was a bleak half for the Frenchmen and the game ended 16-4 in favor of Nemiga. It is important to note that both Nemiga and LDLC had to resort to stand-ins. That’s something to keep in mind when talking about the result.

The Decider

Nemiga vs Virtus.pro

The final match for the Vulkanbet Invitational Group A. The winner can proceed to the semi-final, whilst the loser is out of the tournament. There’s a lot at stake for the two teams. Even in a scenario like this, it’s hard to predict who can win. Not too long ago, Nemiga secured a 2-0 victory against the Virtus.pro roster in a one-sided fashion. When Nemiga was given the opportunity to choose between Overpass and Inferno, they chose the latter.

The Polish team had a solid 3-0 start on the terrorist side. Then slowly but surely Nemiga began picking-up a lot more rounds in a row. However, they couldn’t go for the same aggressive tactics as they did in the LDLC game. They were punished more often, thus it was a more of a passive hold. Things were looking pretty good for Virtus.pro, but then they lost some massive rounds.

First was the eco from Nemiga and then the 1v3 from lollipop21k on the B bombsite. This made the half 9-6 in favor of Nemiga. The Polish side had a swell start on the ct. Things were looking up, but then the Nemiga shifted into 5th gear. They won the last couple of rounds and secured Inferno 16-12.

Concluding Thoughts

Those were the matches for the first day at the VulkanBet Invitational. As expected, a team like ex-3DMAX was able to push through to the playoffs without dropping a map. But it’s a somewhat dissatisfying affair for a team like LDLC. The first loss against Virtus.Pro on Nuke was still somewhat close. Yet, there’s very little to defend them in the game against Nemiga. There didn’t seem to be a lot of team cohesion not to mention proper team play. This isn’t a team with some amazing fraggers, they definitely need more time to work on this project. As for Virtus.pro, it’s another exit in the early stages of the tournament.

This concludes the matches of Group A. Tune in next week to find out who’ll make it out of Group B.

Posted by Michele Schembri on 19th April 2019, 11:44

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