Flash Wolves sweep G2 to win IEM Katowice

Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan on Taiwan's Flash Wolves is a powerful force in the jungle. Provided by Riot Games

The final day of Intel Extreme Masters Season XI World Championship in Katowice started off with two semifinals matchups that pitted two of Europe's best against Taiwan's champion and a South Korean team that was baring its collective teeth. Each semifinal series delivered three games of intense action with G2 Esports and Flash Wolves punching their tickets to the Grand Final. In a repeat of their Day 1 matchup, Flash Wolves beat G2 to claim the IEM Katowice crown.

The semifinals

Coming off a two-day break, the ROX Tigers didn't show much rust in the Game 1 semifinal match against G2. ROX's jungler, Yun "SeongHwan" Seong-hwan, got lanes rolling early with successful ganks on his Rengar, but G2 managed to stave off a major push thanks to sneaky Baron play. The buff would only delay the inevitable, however, as ROX would eventually put the finishing touches on a Game 1 win after securing both the Baron and Elder Dragon, parlaying both into a Nexus-crippling final attack.

Game 2 saw a similar narrative, but this time it was G2 who would gain the early advantage thanks to jungler Kim "Trick" Kang-yun's Rengar and mid laner Luka "Perkz" Perkovic's Ahri. The two would combine to control the side lanes, picking up kills while dictating the pace of the game. G2 would take a huge lead, eventually crashing into ROX's base and knocking down two inhibitors, but the South Korean team would halt their progress with a convincing teamfight win. ROX weren't able to hold out much longer, however, as they were picked apart in the ensuing teamfight, forcing a deciding Game 3.

Game 3 was filled with momentum swings, as ROX kicked things with an early 11,000 gold lead. G2 started to crawl back into the contest during the mid game, relying on a handful of successful teamfights to make an attempt to secure the Baron. ROX responded, stealing the Baron thanks to a nifty play from jungler SeongHwan's Kha'Zix. That kept ROX in front for the immediate future, but G2 continued to persevere, taking the next two Barons to control the late game. Relying on solid defense, ROX survived a multitude of G2 sieges, but a fourth Baron play by G2 forced the South Korean team out of their base. G2 cleaned up in the final teamfight and didn't even need to secure the buff before pushing their way into the Grand Final.

In the other semifinal matchup, Flash Wolves, who had easily dispatched the other two European teams earlier in the tournament, met their match in the form of H2K. Game 1 had a macro heavy start as H2K took an early lead in objectives despite giving up kills to Flash Wolves. H2K slowly crept towards victory but struggled to close out the contest as Flash Wolves defended their Nexus. Eventually H2K were able to land the final killing blows and finish Game 1 after almost 64 minutes.

Looking to finish off the series, H2K had great vision control to start Game 2 allowing them to get picks, often on Flash Wolves jungler Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan's Graves. That opened up the key objectives like turrets and Dragons, giving H2K what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. However, an ace by Flash Wolves around the 44-minute mark would completely flip control of the contest, as the blood bath would open up just enough time for Flash Wolves to blitz through the middle lane and knock down the opposition's Nexus, forcing Game 3.

Flash Wolves' Karsa redeemed himself on Lee Sin in Game 3 as his early gank attempt was successful, getting top laner Yu "MMD" Li-Hung's Poppy off to a good start. Karsa continued to make productive flanks throughout the mid game, but Game 3 hinged around teamfights and vision control near Baron. A slow reaction to Flash Wolves' Baron attempt left H2K bamboozled as they were unable to handle the split push pressure. Once Flash Wolves had all three inhibitors down, they slowly sieged their way into the Grand Final.

The grand finals

In the Grand Finals, G2 jumped out to an early lead in Game 1 thanks to first blood and first turret gold. They weren't able to snowball the lead however, as multiple poor engages in fights doomed their ability to push down lanes. Flash Wolves won teamfight after teamfight and eventually secured the Baron, utilizing the buff to break open G2's base. After a slick Realm Warp from mid laner Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang's Ryze, Flash Wolves caught G2 off-guard and pushed for a Game 1 win.

G2 put together a similar early game performance in Game 2 as they secured first blood and first turret gold with a four man gank in bottom lane. However the mid game proved troublesome for G2 once again, as a catastrophic engage around the 20-minute mark gave four kills and a Baron buff to Flash Wolves. Flash Wolves wasted no time with the Baron buff, quickly pushing down all lanes to victory, earning the 2017 IEM Katowice World Championship.