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Team Empire run in the winners bracket well alive, will face Soniqs in group stage match replay

Team Empire defeated Spacestation Gaming in a quick but intense series.

Image via Ubisoft

Don’t let the score fool you, this game was closer than it seems. Despite Empire having won 2-0, they were put between a rock and a hard place on various occasions. By no means did the Russians have an easy time. 

Teams were headed to Clubhouse for the first map of the series. Although that was Spacestation Gaming’s map pick, that’s also Empire’s best map. Even Danil “JoyStiCK” Gabov was surprised by SSG’s decision. “I don’t know honestly, we didn’t think they would pick it as it is one of our best maps. I think they watched our game against Soniqs, but we were just in bad conditions.”

Team Empire’s start to Clubhouse was priceless as the Russians won two attacking rounds, which was a great beginning despite Alec “Fultz” Fultz’s post-plant clutch on round six. 

Spacestation Gaming would have a taste of its own medicine as three of Empire’s four successful defenses ended with the Russians coming back from post-plant situations. An upset Matthew “Hotancold” Stevens explained that “our post-plants played poorly, I think our communications during the post-plants was kinda off, I think that led to their retakes looking good.” 

“I think we lost a lot of rounds that we should have won, I feel like if we had won that map then maybe Oregon would have looked different,” said Hotancold. 

Unlike Team Empire, who finished in first place of their group, Spacestation Gaming had to face Natus Vincere first. “Our mood was pretty high after the Na’Vi win, we knew though that we needed a clean up our attacks mainly, against Empire our attacks were definitely better, especially on Clubhouse.”

Regarding their game on Kafe, Hotancold was clear. “You can’t go 1-5 on Kafe defense and expect to win the map.”

Many rounds were decided by small details, plays that could have gone either way. “There’s a lot of rounds we could have closed out. We didn’t really have ways to counter what they were doing on attack, I think that’s what led to us being demolished on it,” he concluded. 

The history changes a bit on the other side of the trench. JoyStiCK went through the six attacking rounds on Kafe. “Our coach said that they are doing the same rounds, and we were preparing our first attack. The first rounds are very important for us, because you can play more confidently, you can make some mistakes, it is really important.”

This duel was just a Mexican deja vu. Remember when both teams met at the Mexico Major quarterfinals? Back then, Empire banned Villa and Chalet, while SSG banned Coastline and Consulate – ironically, SSG banned Bank today. 

Due to both team’s play-styles and map pool, the future turns out to be quite predictable when these two meet. Empire has won every BO3 series played against SSG, four in total. Meanwhile, the only SSG victories over the Russians have been on Villa, both at the Sweden Major. And that’s back when Empire tried to implement the Italian map to its map pool, which didn’t go as planned.