<
>

Astralis, Heroic come out atop packed Group D

Astralis and FaZe Clan might be on another collision course at the ELEAGUE Premier. Astralis finished Group D undefeated, and FaZe got the top spot in its group as well. EPA

Astralis and Heroic came out atop Group D in the final week of ELEAGUE Premier this weekend with wins against Team Liquid and SK Gaming, respectively.

On Friday, Astralis returned to Atlanta to go head-to-head with a red-hot Team Liquid. Liquid, which made two recent grand final appearances at ESG Mykono and ESL One New York, struggled in the first half of Overpass and faced a 12-3 deficit at halftime. Liquid did have a better second half start on the defense, but the team couldn't hold off Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjaerbye from closing Overpass 16-11.

Heroic continued the action with a matchup against a struggling SK Gaming. SK got to play on Train, one of its best maps, but Heroic ripped off an 11-4 first half and eventual 16-5 victory. Unfortunately for Heroic, its primetime matchup was against Danish counterpart Astralis. After crushing SK Gaming, Heroic got the taste of its own medicine as Astralis dominated Train with a 14-1 first half on defense and carried that momentum into the second half for the 16-2 win. The win punched Astralis' ticket to the Premier playoffs.

On Saturday, after being surprisingly crushed by Heroic 16-5 on Friday, SK Gaming went head-to-head against Team Liquid to fight for the last Premier playoff spot. The best-of-three series kicked off on Liquid's map pick, Inferno, and the North American squad picked up a 16-8 victory. SK then returned the favor in Game 2 with a 16-8 win of its own on Overpass after a lackluster second half from Liquid. In Game 3, Liquid took control early on, but SK rallied back to draw even at the end of the half. The second half on Mirage seemed to be all SK at first, but Liquid rallied back and forced overtime. Unfortunately for Liquid, the extra rounds weren't enough, and SK sent its opponent packing with a 19-17 overtime win.

The final best-of three series came down to a rematch between SK Gaming and Heroic, who despite the earlier win was still the underdog. Starting off on SK's pick, Overpass, Heroic got off on the right foot, but SK brought it back to an 8-7 scoreline at the half. SK had a solid showing on the defense in the second half to win eight out of nine rounds to claim the first game 16-8.

SK couldn't bring its form forward into Inferno, though; Heroic dominated the second half on Map 2 with a six-round blowout to even the series 1-1. After edging Liquid on Mirage earlier in the day, SK Gaming once again found itself on the map to try and close out the series. It seemed as if SK Gaming struggled to find ways to get past the offense of Heroic, which gained an 11-4 lead in the first half. Although Heroic slipped a few times early in the second half, a failed retake by SK allowed the Danish squad to seal a 16-8 win and the final Premier playoff spot.

The playoff field is now set: Cloud9, G2 Esports, Astralis, North, Heroic, Fnatic, FaZe Clan and Team Envy will all take part. The action will begin at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 10 with G2 taking on Cloud9.