The group stage is now over, with 73 games played and plenty of content for us to analyse about how things may unfold during the playoffs. Heading into the Best-of-Three (Bo3), double-elimination knockout stage, we are now in a whole new tournament compared to the round-robin Best-of-One (Bo1) group stage.
Let’s see how sharp each Upper Bracket team looks in the Six Invitational 2021 playoffs.
Few would disagree that Team Empire has been the most dominant team since Day 1. They’ve only lost once, in overtime against DarkZero Esports, and have otherwise been impeccable. With Danil “JoyStiCK” Gabov regaining his past form and finishing as the best player in the group stage, Empire is becoming more and more like the team we’ve seen win the Six Major Raleigh and finish second at the 2019 Six Invitational.
Just like Empire, BDS ended the group stage losing only once, justly against the Russians. Besides this upset, BDS seemed really strong overall, even without the usual chart-topping performance from their star player, Stéphane “Shaiiko” Lebleu as the other four stepped up. Considering the strength of Group A, and how solidly BDS performed, they are likely a better team than any team from Group B entering the playoffs. And that’s just if Shaiiko does not wake up.
Despite missteps, Team Liquid still has an advantage against any other team besides BDS and Empire in the playoffs. Liquid stood no chance against both the European teams, but they won every other game, save for an upset loss to now-eliminated Cyclops Athlete Gaming. Jitters that the Brazilians may have been feeling are likely gone and a strong record against North Americans and Brazilians so far likely means it is just the Europeans they need to worry about.
Even though TSM lost against MKERS and Giants Gaming in two upsets, the North Americans still finished top in Group B. They did not concede more than five rounds in any of their wins, even against Spacestation Gaming and MIBR. TSM are likely around the level of Team Liquid, if not better, and should show greater signs of life in the Bo3 playoffs.
MIBR has been arguably the best performing squad out of Brazil. With solid performances against the weakest teams in the group (thus avoiding any upsets) and a win against Ninjas in Pyjamas, they only lost to the North Americans of TSM and SSG, MIBR head into the playoffs with higher expectations than when they arrived in the group stage.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
When it comes down to NiP, everyone wants to see the team we saw last year. Although we haven’t seen any sight of the 2020 SI Ninjas during this year's event, the playoffs are completely different and might help the Brazilians. Bo3 matches, big stages are two things that may just help NiP regain some strength. If they are able to fix their struggles on offense, improve their map pool, they could potentially mount another title run.
FaZe's performance during the group stages could’ve been better, but losses against Cloud9 and Liquid hurt their hopes for a better placing in Group A. However, we’ve seen some great stuff from the BR6 2020 title winners, mainly in the matches against BDS and Team Empire. Close games against both Europeans made FaZe look like a real threat for these teams and they may be able to carry that momentum into a Bo3.
Oxygen, just like DarkZero in Group A, struggled against the Brazilian teams in Group B. With all six Brazilian teams still left in the tournament, this will be an area they will be keenly focusing on and would have likely made strides in these two days off.
After being dead last in Group B heading into Day 3, Oxygen gave all they had, going 3-0 on the final day and securing the Upper Bracket. Now, they head into the playoffs as surprising underdogs, given their Stage 1 lead in the North American League, but their strength means that they cannot be underestimated.
Special Mention: Team oNe
Team oNe became a sensation after the first day, starting with an amazing comeback win against G2 Esports almost entirely thanks to Karl “Alem4o” Zarth. Once in fourth place, a shocking 0-3 record on Saturday saw them fall out of the Upper Bracket positions, sparking concerns of inexperience. However, failure is truly the best teacher, and Team oNe will likely be mounting a searing Lower Bracket run.
Catch the playoffs of the Six Invitational, starting tomorrow at 11 AM CEST (UTC+2), with Team Liquid vs MIBR and BDS Esport vs Ninjas in Pyjamas as the two opening games.