Following an absolute breeze through the group stage, Cloud9 face off with the French roster of G2 Esports, currently ranked #2 in the world according to HLTV. In their ten most recent engagements the two teams went equal at five wins apiece, making the upcoming victory or loss one that would tip the equilibrium. If the group stage is anything to go by, Cloud9 are looking absolutely monstrous, whereby neither of their group stage match-ups reached double digits (for their opponents). G2 on the other hand experienced a bit of a slip in the start of their run, only to come back in a best-of-3 setting, keeping the match total to a minimum of four.
G2 Esports vs. Cloud9 - 0:2
de_Cobblestone - 12:16 (9:6, 3:10)
Cobblestone saw a strong start for Cloud9 as the pistol round was accrued by the Americans. Despite the equipment advantage G2 Esports immediately seized the momentum via a successful force buy, leading to a 1:1 equaliser and a dismantled economy for Cloud9. Off the back of this the Frenchmen shot two rounds ahead, a fantastic development considering the lacklustre start. The local reps managed to claw two rounds back to equalise at 3:3, whereby both economies were extremely frail. A spectacular 3k from Jake "Stewie2k" Yip on B Plateau in the following round destabilised the French economy, creating space for his team to further develop.
Utilising their extensive experience, G2 Esports managed to convert a force buy into a round after a brisk B hit was complemented by multiple whiffs from Cloud9. The teams exchanged a digit each in the following two rounds, one of which saw the Americans return the favour by winning a force buy of their own. With just five rounds left to the half, Cloud9 were unable to keep it even with the Frenchmen. Four to one was the distribution of aforementioned rounds, whereby the single one lost by G2 was mostly down to indecision and mistakes of their own device.
Continuing their pistol round reign Cloud9 smashed the second after an A site fake proved effective against G2, who didn’t expect company on B. The Americans did not slip this time in the following rounds, despite facing the very same force buy, clocking in all three initial rounds of the half. Upon reaching their first full buy G2 made sure not to give the Americans an inch, instead taking three consecutive rounds, the second of which saw an ace from none other than the team’s main AWP in Kenny "kennyS" Schrub.
Faced with a 9:12 deficit Cloud9 were desperate for rounds and ultimately sought to reset the steadily developing economy of G2 Esports. This is precisely what happened as the Americans were able to dispel their consecutive loss streak following a big performance from automatic who dispatched two members on the B site. This set the stage up for an equaliser on Cloud9’s part as the Americans bridged the gap at 12:12. Immense struggle ensued for G2, as the team was simply unable to find a opening, and even when they were able to land some frags onto Cloud9 and develop a favourable 2v1 situation, Stewie2k came through for his teammates and closed out. The Frenchmen continued to stumble from reset to reset, entirely unable to secure a single round past twelve. This (unfortunately for G2) led to a 16:12 victory for Cloud9.
de_Inferno - 8:16 (7:8, 1:8)
Pistol round number three fell in favour of Cloud9, as aggression towards apartments scored the Ts an opening into the first round. Great use of utility on the B site marked success for the team at 1:0. A few slip ups were seen from Cloud9 in the following two rounds, however they both culminated in round victories for the team, so all was well. Around about the gun round G2 started retaliating, and on the back of economic damage dealt to the Americans in the preceding two rounds an economic reset was forced, destabilising the opposition. This allowed G2 a 3:3 equaliser, keeping things tight in the start of the map. A wonderful demonstration from Nathan "NBK" Schmitt and Dan "apEX" Madesclaire on how to hold the B site in round 7, as the prior accrued a 3k, followed by beautiful smoke positioning and movement from the latter to dispatch the remaining two Ts.
Having lost the above mentioned round, Cloud9 were experiencing financial issues once again. This lead to yet another lost round at 3:5. Previous shortcomings caught up with G2 Esports in round 10, as their finances were utterly shattered by an unfortunate brawl in Top Mid. Cloud9 clenched the victory, driving their opponents into a force buy next round. Two consecutive losses were endured by G2, once again to be reset into an upgraded pistol situation. Reminiscent of the previous map, however, G2 managed an upset against rifles on the B site, giving the team an opportunity to get back into the map. No such opportunity was seized, as the Ts continued to force the issue on B, this time storming in with lightning speed. Four members of G2 perished in the 14 round, leaving but one representative saving a rifle. In conclusion of the initial half G2 uttered the last word, leading to a 7:8 deficit for the team.
The pistol round winning streak continued for Cloud9, as the team was able to fend off a B take with two members still breathing come its conclusion. Once again the Americans experienced an upset in an anti-eco situation, as deadly aim was exercised on the A site, leading to a 3v3 with SMGs and rifles in the hand of the Frenchmen. Despite a strong situation, G2 managed to give up their momentum lead after a sloppy Top Mid take cost them a blossoming T side economy. Faced with a pistol round once again, G2 were stumbling from reset to reset, seemingly unable to breach the bulwark that was Cloud9’s defence.
Persistent force buys and failed gun rounds were the story of the latter half of G2’s T side, accumulating a five round losing streak at 8:14, a round that coincided with a demonstration of Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham’s incredible capability as an aggressive AWPer.
The final two rounds of the map saw G2 Esports rocking full buys, however the team was unable to utilise them to great effect, as the American defence simply proved too strong. Bomb plants were secured in both rounds 23 and 24, but Cloud9 followed up with successful retakes. In conclusion the local representatives closed out the map and series with 16:8 and 2:0 scores, respectively.
With this convincing performance Cloud9 have truly demonstrated the sheer level of play the team is capable of. Each and every single member of the team had brought the goods to the match-up, resulting in what can only be described as a quick affair. Even current In-Game Leader, Tarik "tarik" Celik showed up on de_Inferno, sporting the highest rating of all individuals on the server. Whichever team will be facing the local representatives in the semi-finals better bring their A-game, or we might just witness a North American team reach a grand final.