Group Stage is over for Elisa Invitational. Group B definitely delivered, as Heroic topped the group with three wins and KOVA was surprisingly the close second. North won the last playoff spot by defeating Nordavind.

KOVA vs Nordavind (Nuke 16-6)

Group B started with a bang – provided by Finnish young hitters. KOVA started on the T side, winning pistol round. Nordavind won the following force buy, but KOVA hit back by winning their own. After that, it was all KOVA. They marched to victory, round after round, eventually to 10-1 lead before Nordavind got a grip. The Finnish underdogs led 11-4, when the sides were swapped.

Second half didn’t last long, as KOVA won pistol round, the following anti-force and anti-eco. Nordavind’s comeback never really started as KOVA closed the match 16-6 with no trouble at all.

Player highlight: derkeps

The 17-year-old star AWPer Nikita ”derkeps” Sirmitev eliminated everyone in his sights. Even though the match lasted only 22 rounds, derkeps still had 31 kills. What’s even more incredible, he had 147.9 ADR and astonishing 2.42 Rating. He also won all of his eight entry duels.

North vs Heroic (Nuke 6-16)

The scenes didn’t change much for the second game, as Danish teams battled in Nuke as well. North won their T-side pistol, but Heroic answered back right away by winning the following force-buy. North had good attacks, but Heroic took the Ws, leading 11-2 before North grabbed two last rounds of the half.

Once again, North won pistol round but their momentum didn’t last too long. Heroic won their first gun round and didn’t look back. First two matches of Group B had the same map with the same result, as Heroic ran over North 16-6.

Player highlight: stavn

Young hitters have been on fire during this tournament and this match kept that thing going. Heroic’s youngest player, 18-year-old Martin ”stavn” Lund was hitting his shots. 24 kills, 102.2 ADR and 1.65 Rating, in addition to 95.5% KAST were the leading factor for their win, as North won entry duels 12-10, but couldn’t convert the round wins against their countrymen.

Heroic vs Nordavind (Dust2 16-12)

Nordavind won T-side pistol and the following anti-eco, before Heroic won their first gun round and forced Nordavind to eco. Fortunately for the international roster, they won that eco and three following rounds to take a solid 6-1 lead. Heroic had the last laugh, as they won all the eight rounds to close the half 9-6.

Heroic took 10-6 lead by winning T-side pistol with massive 1v3 clutch by Johannes ”b0rup” Borup, but Nordavind won the following force buy and two more. Neither team could get the momentum going, before Heroic took the lead 12-11 and destroyed Nordavind’s bank in the process.

After two lost eco rounds and one gun round, Nordavind had their backs against the wall 11-15. Their comeback lasted only one round, before Heroic closed 16-12.

Player highlight: b0RUP

Heroic had a lot of performers, as all five players had 1+ Rating. Stavn top-fragged with 25 kills and 93 ADR, but b0RUP wasn’t far off with 23 kills and 88.7 ADR. He had the best Rating – 1.30 – and his pistol clutch was one to remember.

North vs KOVA (Vertigo 14-16)

KOVA surprised many by destroying Nordavind, but they had a lot more left in their tank. North won T-side pistol and two more, as KOVA’s force buy wasn’t successful. And that’s pretty much it for the terrorist side success for North. KOVA won round after round, until North took one back with a half-buy on 13th round, before KOVA closed half with a confident 11-4 lead.

That wasn’t it though, as North won the pistol once again and even though KOVA did some damage, North came back to 8-11. KOVA needed only one round win to push North to eco, and they seemed to be cruising away when they took 14-9 lead, as North was forced to a weaker buy.

You couldn’t write any better script than this, as North won four nail-biter retakes in a row to close the gap to 13-14. Next round ended with a 1v1 clutch, as KOVA’s Lauri ”pietola” Hietala and North’s Mathias ”MSL” Lauridsen looked each other in the eye before the time ran out: 14-14.

Finally KOVA pulled themselves together, won the following round by – surprise, surprise – excellent openings on B site by derkeps and closed the match confidently with A site execute, 16-14.

Player highlight: uli

Unsurprisingly, derkeps destroyed the opposition on the CT side with 18 kills and 115.2 ADR. He was also top fragger with 27 kills, but the more difficult T side was led by Samu ”uli” Leirilaakso. He gathered 11 kills, 98.4 ADR and 1.23 Rating, the one and only 1+ Rating of KOVA’s T-side. Overall he had 22 kills and the best ADR – 97.8.

North vs Nordavind (19-17 Nuke)

Both teams needed the W to stay on tournament, as Heroic and KOVA had beaten both of them. Despite their match losses, North had won all pistol rounds so far, and that streak kept going as they started their CT side. Their 3-0 lead didn’t last long though, as Nordavind broke their money and managed to tie it up 4-4.

North got their guns back, and their confidence with them, sweeping the rest of the half with only one bomb plant by Nordavind. Half-time score was 11-4 for North as Philip ”aizy” Aistrup (CT-side: 25 kills, 111.7 ADR, 100% KAST) and Markus ”Kjaerbye” Kjærbye (CT-side: 15 kills, 111.9 ADR) stopped Nordavind’s efforts on their tracks constantly.

Nordavind needed the pistol round desperately, and they put an end to North’s win streak. The comeback train kept its schedule, as Nordavind lost only two of their first eleven CT rounds, tying the game 13-13. The Danish lions woke up and finally broke the defence two rounds in a row, but Nordavind fought their way back to 15-15.

Nordavind took the lead in their CT side 17-16, but North’s defence was even stronger. No T round wins for Nordavind, so North made their way to playoffs with 19-17 win.

Player highlight: aizy

Interestingly, even though aizy top-fragged with massive 38 kills, 1.46 Rating and 86.1% KAST, his ADR was ”only” 83.9. Kjaerbye topped that with 91.2, as he provided 12 assists to his teammates. Five of aizy’s frags were entries, out of eight entry duels overall.

Heroic vs KOVA (Nuke 16-13)

The last match of the day had interesting stakes, thanks to surprising results. The loser of the match would face Apeks in the semifinal, and potentially ENCE in the qualifier final after that. The winner would have spot in the qualifier final on Sunday, but the opponent would be either Dignitas or North.

It looked like both teams wanted to take that spot in the qualifier final, even though KOVA had a rough start. For the same day, it was the second time KOVA won T-side pistol, and the second time they lost the following round against CT force buy. KOVA looked really lost, as Heroic dominated their way to 7-1 lead. The Finnish forces woke up slowly, eventually making it 4-11 half-time scoreline.

And then it was time for the derkeps show. KOVA took the first five rounds, but the bomb plant of the last one of those allowed Heroic to buy once more. They took their first T-side win with AKs, and 11-9 lead was quickly grown to 15-10. KOVA won with a desperate force buy, and one more round to break Heroic’s economy. KOVA was two rounds away, trailing 13-15, when Heroic bought and managed to close the game.

Player highlight: b0RUP

On Heroic’s CT-side, stavn and Casper ”cadiaN” Møller boasted 108.3 and 107 ADRs, but b0RUP helped them close the match and seal the group victory with his T side efforts. In total, b0RUP had 23 kills, 82.7 ADR and 1.25 Rating. He won 5/7 of his entry duels.

Honorable mention: Despite KOVA losing, derkeps had 30 kills, 101.6 ADR and 1.57 Rating. Seven entry frags with only two entry deaths for the youngster.

Playoff bracket

Now we say goodbye to best-of-ones, as playoffs will be played completely as best-of-three matches. KOVA versus Apeks is our first semi-final matchup, and the winner fights ENCE to take the first BLAST Premier Spring Showdown Europe spot. Sunday starts with a banger, as North and Dignitas want to advance to final against undefeated Heroic.

Semi-finals start 17:00 EEST, qualifier finals 21:00 EEST. Remember to follow ElisaEsports on Twitter and either ElisaViihdeSport or BLASTPremier on Twitch to catch the action.