The Mongolian Dream

Sebastian Lalic
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Illustration by ANDY. Source: PGL | Luc Bouchon

In our previous edition, we talked about how FURIA was the only team to be shocked at the Katowice play-ins so far. Little did we know.

Let's set the stage: FURIA just lost to BIG and awaits the winner of IHC vs. paiN for their decider match. A fired-up sk0R brought the pain to… paiN and won the series 2-0 to set up a meeting with FURIA.

On paper, FURIA had everything going their way: Top 20 players, higher HLTV ranking, and better form. And IHC’s previous attempt at taking down a giant didn’t go so well — Cloud9 gave them a spanking that must’ve hurt their confidence.

So, when both teams logged onto the server and IHC started clicking heads, we were quite surprised.

On IHC’ a map pick of Nuke, they started the T-side off strong by carrying pistol round momentum into a 6-3 lead. A lead that was promptly turned into a 6-9 half in favor of FURIA. The teams proceeded to trade rounds but at 14-14 sk0R single-handedly decided he was done playing Nuke. He shut down A-site with a 4K powerful enough to stop a m0NESY flick. Despite FURIA going all out on a force buy, it wasn’t enough and IHC closed the map 16-14.

At this point, everyone started dreaming. Could a team from Mongolia really take down Brazil’s finest?

Ironically, Mirage made those dreams look a reality but turned out to be an illusion.

IHC started off with an 8-7 win as CT - not bad for a map this balanced. And they didn’t stop there. On T-side, IHC pulled away into a 15-11 lead finding themselves at matchpoint!

But then something happened. Their style of play changed.

They gave up four rounds in a row, sending the match to OT where they lost. Despite Annihalation’s ridiculous 1v4 attempt, it seemed they had either run out of strats or their nerves caught up with them.

There was still one map left to play though, Anubis, the wildcard.

FURIA took the first half 9-6, on T-side which appears to be the favored side on Anubis right now. So IHC proved that point. 11 rounds later, 10 of which were won by IHC, the Mongolians won the match, knocked out FURIA, and qualified for the Katowice Group stage.

Everyone in the scene is buzzing for the boys from Asia, well except the Brazilians. But we’re used to that.

February 5, 2023

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