First round of playoffs finished without any real upsets, most of the games were incredibly close and had impressive show of teamplay and resilience. One could argue that it was a surprise that CR4ZY beat SKADE, but if you've been paying attention, you could see how quickly the Ukrainian team has developed under coach Ivan "Johnta" Shevtsov and them taking the match over a reformed SKADE wasn't a shock. PACT vs LDLC was another match that was promising to be a close game, and indeed it was, it seemed as though LDLC had the game in the bag until the Polish team managed to rally and pulled off a remarkable comeback. It will be exciting to see LDLC perform with their updated roster in the future and we will keep our eye on their development. In NA, there is still one contender for semis that is undecided, with Whalers playing Recon 5 on July 2nd, with the winner having to face off against Chaos. RBG, one of NA's up-and-comers surprised everyone by taking a map off Chaos and are definitely among the event's most improved throughout the season, they could easily break through to a higher tier in the next 6 months.
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The teams have met in group stage, where Nemiga walked away with a solid 16-11 win on Inferno. The Belarussians had also recently beat NaVi on Inferno with the same score in WePlay's Clutch Island, this shows the level of Counter-Strike that these two teams are playing. Nemiga have always been overshadowed by the top teams in their region, they are ready to play at a higher level, but always seem to fall at the last hurdle that are CIS qualifiers for any big event. This is Nemiga's fourth consecutive apperance in WINNERS League and they've placed 2nd in the last two. They've really improved their map pool and will have a stronger map veto than their opponents. Perhaps, this is their season.
CR4ZY are coming in as the underdog here. They have impressive rotations, nade usage and moments of brilliance, but they are clearly a level below Nemiga at the moment and have a lot to prove, its unlikely that they're going to pull off this upset.
Both teams have have had their rosters together for a considerable time. Espada are coming in as the defending champions, while PACT bombed out in group stage last season. If we're looking at the teams' current form, its hard to point out the better squad, their current world rankings are #34 and #44 respectively. Vertigo and Mirage are the likely first bans here, and it would make a lot of sense if we saw Dust 2, Inferno and Overpass as the chosen maps. This map veto slightly favors Espada, which is why they are the expected victor in this series.
A rematch of Dreamhack Open Summer 2020, where Triumph defeated Yeah Gaming to claim the spot in the main event. Yeah Gaming have been impressing, Eduardo "dumau" Wolkmer have had massive performances and he is only 16 years old. The Brazilians will surely learn from their Dreamhack run in with Triumph, but this will still be a tough match for them.
Triumph are a runaway train, with their main performers, Michael "Grim" Wince and Rahul "Curry" Nemani gaining confidence with every match they play. They've put in a lot of work and improved their map pool recently. It won't take long for the Triumph boys to start contesting for the top spot in North America or their top performers getting poached by the main giants in the region. This match is expected to go the distance, with Triumph ultimately winning 2-1.
Chaos are still waiting to find out who their opponent is for the semi-finals, as the Whalers and Recon 5 have been busy with MDL playoffs. Regardless of who they face, they should not have difficulty taking the series 2-0 over either of these two teams. Their loss on Overpass against RBG in the quarter-final was a wakeup call and its doubtful that they will be taking this match lightly. This match should go in a similar fashion to how Triumph defeated Thunder Logic in the first round. Chaos have their own heavy hitters in Nathan "leaf" Orf and Eric "Xeppaa" Bach, who are bound to put up an impressive show here.