The VulkanBet Invitational Group B Recap

The VulkanBet Invitational Group B just ended, and man did it deliver. Because the competition is split into 2 groups, last week we witnessed the action from Group A. This was a pool where the participating teams needed to prove their worth. This group had the newly assembled LDLC roster. Old French talent, left in the wayside of any more meaningful Franco-Belgian shuffle. They lost both of their bo1 matches in a convincing manner. First to Virtus.pro, then to Nemiga.

Speaking of which, the VulkanBet Invitational Group A had an interesting conclusion. In the deciding bo1 game deciding who will join ex-3DMAX in the playoffs, Virtus.pro faced Nemiga. It was a darn surprise to witness a Belorussian victory over the Poles. If you thought group A was a gruelling affair, you haven’t seen the teams in group B. This is a pool with known teams of tier 2 Counter-Strike. Epsilon, Alternate Attax, SJ Gaming and HAVU. In a tight pool like this one, upsets were bound to happen.

The VulkanBet Invitational Group B Opening Matches

Alternate Attax vs SJ Gaming

To start things off, the first game of the day was Alternate Attax versus SJ Gaming. Ever since the start of this year, the German lineup has been rising through the ranks. Just like their Finnish counterparts, they too play a lot of online Counter-Strike. In the veto, it was settled that the two teams shall play Inferno. This is a map both teams tend to play often and looked like a good veto.

Alternate Attax started things well on the ct side. They garnered a pistol round victory and the subsequent rounds from it. But SJ Gaming would put up a fight shortly after in the early stages of the game. An early example of this would be the 1v4 on the B bombsite that KHRN was able to win. The Finns would also gain a lot of success from their explosive middle takes and they wouldn’t have a difficult time securing middle. This allowed them to acquire a 4-3 lead. What happened next was a convincing ct side from the Germans. They had good opportunities and secured early advantages in many rounds to follow. Even when it came down to a post-plant scenario, like a 2on2, the ct side would still secure a round. Great holds from players like stfN helped secure an impressive 11-4 lead. Alternate Attax had picked up the pistol and from then on out it was just a matter of closing out the game. They achieved victory when the score was 16-8.

Epsilon vs HAVU

This was an interesting opening match of the two. Epsilon is a rising European team, but they still have some quirks to overcome in online play. HAVU is another team on the cusp of rising through the European ranks. Some haven’t really noticed their growth, especially because they are in the shadow of the Number 1 team in Finland – ENCA. Yet surprisingly, these two teams haven’t crossed paths that often. In fact, the first and last time they’ve done so was in Loot.Bet Season 2. During a very close bo3 series, Epsilon secured a 2-0 (22-19 and 16-13) victory.

And now the two teams met on a new map, which was Train. Since HAVU was able to ban out Train or Dust2, they went for the latter. For a good reason. Train is a map that’s been great for this roster. It is their most played map, with the biggest win rate. They may not have played a lot of it during the past two weeks, but it is still a better pick than Dust2. With some neat plays, the Finnish roster found some great early success. It didn’t take them to long to acquire 7 rounds to Epsilon’s 2.

One of the biggest success factors was the AWP-er ZOREE. He found a lot of impact for HAVU on the terrorist side with his sniper rifle plays. The only entity to challenge him was the Dutch player CRUC1AL. As much as he tried, none of his other teammates could’ve played to his standards. As the ct side economy would be constantly reset, Epsilon ran away with only 5 rounds on the ct side. When the sides were switched, HAVU didn’t take too much time to close out the game. They got the pistol rounds, the subsequent rounds, have reset the economy of Epsilon and won the game 16-7.

The VulkanBet Invitational Group B Winner’s Match

Alternate Attax vs HAVU

Early in the day, Alternate Attax and HAVU secured victories in their opening matches. Both of these teams have shown to have profoundly good individuals. However, the victory of HAVU was against a higher caliber opponent. Most importantly, this early win might have been a great boost in confidence for the HAVU squad moving forward. This time around, the battleground was set on Mirage. This map was decided by the German veto.

Mirage is a map Alternate Attax had difficulties securing wins in. Last two losses were 16-6 against ForZe and 16-1 against NoChance. HAVU themselves are no strangers to avoiding Mirage, as during the month of March they’ve only played it twice. However, they had a decent start. Something you can’t really say for the Germans.

Alternate Attax ended up losing the pistol round, but still showed some solid stuff on the ct defensive. Especially on the B bombsite from Mantuu. However, after their 3-2 lead, things just went downhill. The HAVU squad was consistently finding opening kills on the terrorist side. This allowed them to become very mobile and unpredictable. What made matters worse was the German inability to win crucial rounds. There was a particular 2v5 the Germans lost due to their lackluster positioning. And as the half ended, they only secured 3 rounds total. At the end of it all, it was a fine showing from HAVU and they secured the map, yet again, 16-7.

VulkanBet Invitational Group B Elimination Match

SJ Gaming vs Epsilon

Epsilon had an upper hand in this matchup, even after their early loss to HAVU. It was a mere bo1 scenario and could’ve been a flimsy start. As the veto was decided, the map was Dust2. The early start was somewhat murky. The pistol round was picked up by Epsilon on the ct side, but the terrorist side of SJ Gaming secured a force-buy victory with a 3-1 lead.

The Finnish players weren’t planning to stop there. Their solid terrorist side approach helped them to win over bombsites, even with the Epsilon double AWP setup coming into play. In order to gain some early advantages, the European mix began looking for early opening kills. This was a good idea as it helped them to accumulate an 8-7 half. After that demoralizing end for the Finnish side, it was interesting to see how they hold up on the second half.

They started out strong, as they secured an early pistol round victory. Yet the gun rounds were still favoring the terrorist side. On the 20th round the Finns had to go on a full eco. But their aggressive 5 usp push down mid not only garnered them some kills, but also a round victory. It looked like SJ Gaming was on the cusp of securing a win on Dust as they were up 15-11. However, we saw a momentum shift and the Epsilon squad pulled off a comeback of their own to make it 15-15. Overtime was impressive for Epsilon, to be more exact, for Broky. On the terrorist side, he won 2 back-to-back 1v2 scenarios, to put his team up by 17 rounds. They were able to close out the game 19-17, but it was a gruelling match.

The Decider

Alternate Attax vs Epsilon

The final group stage match of the VulkanBet Invitational Group B. It’s was an interesting match considering that the two teams met just a day prior in the Loot.Bet Season2. That was an entire bo3 Epsilon had to power through in order to secure a victory (16-13 and 19-17). The VulkanBet Invitational is only a bo1 for a spot in the playoffs so this could’ve been a close map. Especially since the decider was Inferno.

An unforgiving map for the Epsilon players as it has been particularly hard in recent events. For Alternate Attax this a middle of the pack map, thus it’s a fine map to land on. It was looking fine and dandy for the German side as they secured a pistol round victory and two more subsequent rounds to work with. However, Epsilon fought back on the 4th round in a disadvantageous 5v3 scenario. Crucially enough, they couldn’t build a bank from their victory, because a simple eco push through the apartments caught the ct off guard. This allowed the Germans to secure yet another round.

From that point onward, the game was back and forth. There were well-formulated pushes from the terrorist side, but the cts proved to be a tough nut to crack. At the end of the half, it was 9-6 favoring Epsilon. Because the sides were switched, it was a fine start for Alternate Attax. They picked up the pistol and some subsequent rounds to follow. But that was a very brief moment of success. The Epsilon players began mounting strong offensives on their t side. Attax would have a difficult time holding the sites and even blew away an easily winnable 5v2. At the end, it was a victorious Epsilon with a spot in the playoffs.

Concluding Thoughts

And that brings us to the end of the VulkanBet Invitational Groups. Unlike Group A, there was more intrigue about the teams. Because the group was seemingly stacked, it wasn’t easy to predict the victors. Not to mention the fact that these teams are on a very similar level. One of the biggest surprises has got to be the performance of HAVU. Not only did they top the group, but it was done in a very convincing manner. Epsilon, the best team on paper in this group, had a difficult journey to the playoffs. In the deciding game against SJ Gaming, they almost lost and went out dead last. But some expertise and individual skill came through in the end. Best of luck to Alternate Attax and SJ Gaming in the future, as they proved to be worthy opponents in Group B. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the VulankBet Invitational CS:GO playoffs.

Posted by Michele Schembri on 24th April 2019, 11:24

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