M80 win first IEM Sydney 2023 Open Qualifier
The first of two IEM Sydney 2023 North American Open Qualifiers has come to a close, with M80 taking down Evil Geniuses in a hotly-contested BO3. This victory has earned M80 a place in the closed qualifier alongside Nouns and Complexity. Meanwhile, Evil Geniuses will be preparing themselves for the second open qualifier, set to begin tomorrow.
Day two kicked off with largely one-sided matchups in the quarterfinals, as M80 slammed Rocket 16-3, Evil Geniuses bested Forsaken 16-8, and Wildcard moved past Spate 16-9. The most hard-fought matchup was between Party Astronauts and Detonate, with the latter squad ultimately prevailing in overtime with a 19-17 scoreline. The semifinals were similarly straightforward, with M80 beating Detonate 16-8, while Evil Geniuses took down Wildcard 16-7.
The final series between M80 and Evil Geniuses kicked off on the latter squad's pick of Inferno, where EG were repeatedly denied a dominant streak in the first half by occasional breakthroughs from M80 on the CT-side. Eventually, M80 converted these periodic wins into a lead in the half, coming out of the defense with a 9-6 scoreline. M80 snatched the second pistol round, but EG denied them the subsequent gun round win, with the Geniuses ultimately clawing their way to a 13-12 lead.
Despite the impressive comeback, M80 would be the first to reach map point, before Inferno quickly descended into overtime. M80 managed map point yet again in the first overtime but missed out on two chances to close it out, taking things to double overtime. After dropping the first two rounds, M80 put together four rounds straight to take their opponent's pick with a belabored 22-20 scoreline.
Although Evil Geniuses laid claim to the first pistol round on M80's pick of Vertigo, it looked like M80 were going to be in charge of the match, procuring a 7-4 lead after stabilizing. EG ultimately rallied at the end of the half to reclaim the lead with an 8-7 scoreline. The Geniuses furthered their streak with another pistol round win, allowing them to be the first to reach a double-digit score. M80 mounted a solid comeback, at one point bringing things as close as 13-14, but Evil Geniuses eventually found it in themselves to finish off the map 16-13, bringing the series to Overpass.
A strong start for Evil Geniuses on the T-side allowed Colby "Walco" Walsh's men to take an early 5-2 lead, but M80 responded with six rounds straight on the defense to secure a victory in the half. After rounding out the remaining two rounds of the half to field a 7-8 deficit, EG secured themselves yet another pistol round to retake the lead. Looking to posture for double-digit rounds, EG were quickly shut out by M80, who put together a stunning seven-round streak to reach match point. EG attempted to keep the map going with some rounds of their own, but M80 closed out the match not long after with a 16-11 scoreline.
With M80's qualification, the list of IEM Sydney Closed Qualifier squads is now:
Open Qualifier #2
Evil Geniuses and squads such as Forsaken, Wildcard, Party Astronauts, and Detonate, among others, will be duking it out in the second open qualifier, slated to begin tomorrow, for a shot at securing the final available closed qualifier spot. The closed qualifier will kick off in just shy of two weeks, scheduled to start August 24th.