Astralis and FaZe Clan each moved within a win of a playoff berth as the Intel Extreme Masters Chicago kicked off Tuesday.
The two teams advanced through to the third round of the Group A upper bracket and will face off Thursday, with the winner earning a guaranteed spot in the semifinals of the playoffs of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament. The loser will face the team to emerge from the lower bracket; the winner of that matchup advances to the quarterfinals as a high seed while the loser advances as a low seed.
Each eight-team group will have three representatives in the single-elimination playoffs. The quarterfinals and semifinals -- taking place Friday and Saturday, respectively -- are each best-of-three, while Sunday's grand final is best-of-five.
The first matches of the group stage on Tuesday were all single-game. Astralis downed MVP PK 16-8 on Nuke, FaZe edged Team LDLC.com 16-14 on Mirage, North took out NRG Esports 16-10 on Cache, and MiBR bested Renegades 16-12 on Inferno.
In the best-of-three second round, Astralis swept North, winning 16-5 on Inferno and 16-4 on Nuke. FaZe edged MiBR 2-1 behind a 16-11 triumph on Train in the decisive third game.
In the lower bracket of Group A, NRG rallied to eliminate MVP PK 2-1 and will next face MiBR in another win-or-go-home match Wednesday. LDLC ousted Renegades 2-1 to move on to a match against North with the same stakes.
Group B got off to a quieter start on Day 1, with each team only playing once. eUnited defeated Natus Vincere 16-6 on Mirage, Fnatic got the better of BIG 16-9 on Cache, mousesports routed AVANGAR 16-5 on Train, and Team Liquid held off Luminosity Gaming 16-11 on Cache.
Wednesday will see eUnited take on Fnatic and mousesports oppose Liquid in upper-bracket matches. In the lower bracket, Na'Vi and BIG will play a win-or-go-home series, as will AVANGAR and Luminosity.