Only eight players remain to contend for the world championship after the first round of the IEM Katowice 2021 playoffs.
The first RO12 match saw Reynor narrowly overcome Stats in 3-2 victory. Reynor showed that he was well-prepared for the 2-Stargate Void Ray build dominating the the PvZ match-up, taking all three of his victories in matches where Stats attempted the strategy. A Lurker-Queen push, a Queen-Roach-Ravager timing, and a Hydra-Baneling-Queen all-in off three bases were enough to secure Reynor a quarterfinal spot.
The second RO12 match was more one-sided, with Maru winning in a 3-0 sweep against HeroMarine. In particular, game two on Jagannatha served as a reminder for the old "just play like Maru" memes. HeroMarine took a seemingly unsurmountable lead with a powerful early/mid-game push, but Maru stole an incredible comeback victory by hunkering down on defense and besting Big Gabe in a late-game air battle. HeroMarine wasn't discouraged by the loss, however, praising Maru's abilities and looking to it as motivation for the future.
"Strategic plays"—or disgusting cheeses, depending on your point of view—were the focal point in the match between PartinG and INnoVation. Unfortunately for INnoVation, PartinG proved to be more skilled in this department, advancing with a combination of proxy-Gateway and proxy-Stargate tactics. The deciding game on Pillars of Gold was especially notable for its comedic value, with INnoVation constantly trying—and failing—to finish construction of his second Command Center against a proxy-Void Ray attack. PartinG hinted that his nefarious approach to PvT would continue in the RO8, saying he would "twist" TY's brain.
Clem and Serral faced off in many epic duels over the course of the 2020/21 EPT Season, and the trend continued in the IEM 2021 playoffs. Fans of 'traditional' TvZ are highly recommended to watch the the VOD of this match, with the two players engaging in seeming non-stop mid-game combat. Clem jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead, only for the Finnish Phenom to show his class and tie the series up at 2-2. However, the rising French Terran proved to be better player in the final map on Deathaura, eventually overwhelming his opponent with 3/3 bio.
IEM Katowice 2021 continues with the round-of-8 on Saturday, Feb 27 2:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00).