Stage 3: Masters Berlin begun today with Group A, C and D play. The favorites took wins in each group's openers.

An EMEA showdown between SuperMassive Blaze SuperMassive Blaze Europe Rank #7 russ Batuhan Malgaç pAura Melih Karaduran Turko Mehmet Özen Brave Eren Kasırga Izzy Baran Yılmaz and Acend Acend Europe Rank #2 zeek Aleksander Zygmunt cNed Mehmet Yağız İpek starxo Patryk Kopczynski BONECOLD Santeri Sassi Kiles Vlad Shvets started the tournament, soon followed by two inter-regional clashes. G2 Esports G2 Esports Europe Rank #5 keloqz Cista Wassim Mixwell Oscar Cañellas koldamenta Jose Luis Aranguren AvovA Auni Chahade nukkye Žygimantas Chmieliauskas and F4Q F4Q Korea Rank #4 Efina Kim Nak-yeon (김낙연) Esperanza Jeong Jin-choel (정진철) zunba Kim Joon-hyuk (김준혁) fiveK Yoo Sung-min (유성민) Bunny Chae Joon-hyuk (채준혁) played their first of two matches, while 100 Thieves 100 Thieves Inactive faced the second Brazil seed in Havan Liberty Havan Liberty Brazil Rank #3 krain Gustavo Melara Myssen Rodrigo Myssen pleets Marcelo Leite shion Gabriel Vilela liazzi Felipe Galiazzi .

SuperMassive Blaze vs. Acend (2-0 ACE)

Bind was Acend's pick and a map they've looked comfortable on as of recently. Despite a new Agent composition from SMB, Santeri "BONECOLD" Sassi led his team into a comfortable 13-5 win that the Turks just couldn't dispute.

"We were expecting their old composition, right now it just doesn't come to my mind," BONECOLD said. "We're really strong at adapting so it didn't matter that they changed comps because we can also just change our playstyle from the flow. It didn't interfere with any preparation."

Next up was Ascent, the map where SMB defeated Gambit 13-1 in the EMEA Challengers Playoffs grand final. This time, Acend started with a 5-0 lead. Mehmet "Turko" Özen pulled off a 1v3 clutch to sway the momentum his team's way, as they recovered the half 7-5. Things were dire in the second half for SuperMassive Blaze, leading to a 13-9 loss. The famous "0 ping cNed" showed up today, averaging nearly 300 ACS across both maps.

"Our biggest preparation was to actually be ready to play on stage and get to know each other. We saw each other for the first time 2 weeks ago," BONECOLD said.

This loss places SuperMassive Blaze on the verge of elimination, playing against Vision Strikers Vision Strikers Korea Rank #1 Lakia Kim Jong-min (김종민) stax Kim Gu-taek Rb Goo Sang-Min (구상민) k1Ng Lee Seung-won BuZz Yu Byung-chul (유병철) MaKo Kim Myeong Gwan or Paper Rex Paper Rex Asia-Pacific Rank #5 mindfreak Aaron Leonhart f0rsakeN Jason Susanto Benkai Benedict Tan d4v41 Khalish Rusyaidee shiba Zhan Teng Toh on September 15.

"I know SMB is a really strong team. I really admire them. I feel like it's a 50/50 against Vision Strikers because their team play is really good," said BONECOLD. "But, then, SMB has more individual skill—at least that's my opinion. I can't really say [if they make it] but I'm rooting for them, they're really good guys."

Acend will rock you.

G2 Esports vs. F4Q (2-1 G2)

The dubbed European superteam of G2 against the so-called streamer team in F4Q opened up Group D. While both teams are filled with talent, Cista "keloqz" Wassim and Chae "Bunny" Joon-hyuk (채준혁) are the standout names of the respective squads.

"The thing is, even if you know [Bunny's] coming, it's unstoppable. You can call it many times in the freeze time and everyone is expecting it, but if you don't think about him for one second you get caught," said IGL koldamenta in the post-match interview.

G2 looked in full control of their series against F4Q, starting it out 11-1 on Ascent. F4Q recovered some rounds but the Europeans eventually secured the map 13-5. While G2 couldn't quite hold onto F4Q's Bind pick, they made the Koreans sweat for it 13-9.

Haven was again a tough map for both sides with a lot of back and forth, but G2 eventually came out on top 13-8 to secure their first win in Berlin.

"[The match] was tougher than we expected. They changed compositions and a couple of maps. They found a better game style in my opinion," said koldamenta in the post-match interview. "The differing game styles is what made the series so close."

As Group D is played as a double round-robin, F4Q is not on the verge of elimination. They still have three matches to play: two against Sentinels Sentinels North America Rank #1 TenZ Tyson Ngo ShahZaM Shahzeb Khan SicK Hunter Mims zombs Jared Gitlin dapr Michael Gulino and one more against G2.

G2 themselves have the same matches to play. One of them is against Sentinels. "This is our town. We're gonna send them home."

keloqz leans back in his chair during the match against F4Q Cista "keloqz" Wassim was in full relaxation mode despite the three-map series. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

Havan Liberty vs. 100 Thieves (2-0 100T)

In the pre-tournament Press Conference held by Riot, Joshua "steel" Nissan had said he expected "good protocols and setups" from Havan Liberty. The focus would always be to "make sure that we're playing our game as well as we can."

"I think, based off of our experiences and our skill level, I think we should be able to handle them decently well." And handle decently they did.

Map 1, Ascent, was a clean 13-3 take for the American squad, with Ethan "Ethan" Arnold showing off his prowess in a retake 4K that no one could have expected. Icebox was a little rougher around the edges, but still a smooth 13-6 win from 100 Thieves to close out the day.

"We just kind of came out and played our game," Spencer "Hiko" Martin said in the post-match interview. "We definitely didn't expect it to be that one-sided, especially the first map. They definitely put up a good fight and they're a good team. I wouldn't say it was super easy or anything."

Ice in his veins. No nerves on LAN for Hiko.

Brazil's #2 seed is now on the brink of elimination. 100 Thieves, however, have one Bo3 to complete if they're to make it to playoffs.

"I think we all kind of expect Gambit to take it," Hiko said regarding their next match against the winner of Gambit vs. Crazy Raccoon. "Great team, they play very aggressive, they're very fast. We have a lot of experience against that with a lot of the NA teams and the 'NA style.' I think we'll definitely be prepared, we'll definitely be ready whether Crazy Raccoons or Gambit. I think we have a good shot.

Looking Ahead

More group openers are going to be played tomorrow, September 11, specifically for Group A, C and B:

The winners of tomorrow's matches will be a game away from playoffs. The losers will have to dodge elimination twice if they are to make it to the playoffs.