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Next month, 24 of the top CS:GO esports teams in the world will be fighting one another to lift the IEM Cologne trophy. The 24 teams will be divided into two groups and play double elimination best-of-three ties, with the group winners heading into the semifinals and the second and third-place finishers heading into the quarterfinals. The playoffs will be single elimination best-of-three matches, and the final will be best-of-five.
The tournament has a prize pool of $1,000,000, making it not just one of the most prestigious tournaments on the CS:GO esports calendar but all of esports. Of course, the teams that participate in this tournament give it its glamor, and it’s hard to pick a winner as things stand. There are at least seven teams with really good odds coming into this tournament, which says everything about the competition.
Team Vitality are the bookies’ favorites, with Heroic not too far behind. FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, ENCE, Cloud9, and Natus Vincere have also got the pedigree to go all the way, but they lack the consistency of Team Vitality and Heroic. There are so many great teams to choose from, but we think Heroic’s recent form might sway things in their favor.
As things stand, Heroic and Vitality look a class above the rest of the teams in the CS:GO circuit. Vitality have the talents of ZyWoo to call upon, considered by many CS:GO esport fans and experts as the best player in the world, but Heroic have found a way to combat that recently after struggling earlier in the season. We think Heroic will carry that momentum into this tournament and come out victorious.
Team Vitality might be one spot below Heroic in the HLTV rankings, but the bookies think they’re the better team. Of course, they’ve dropped a spot recently because they haven’t been their flawless selves in the last month: losses to Natus Vincere, Heroic, and Imperial in the last two months have plummeted their stock a little.
With ZyWoo in the line-up, they’re always going to have the potential to go all the way. The Frenchman is considered by many to be the best CS:GO player in the world and has had another strong year with 0.80 kills and 0.58 deaths per round.
They’re also unplayable on certain maps: they have a 100% record on Nuke in the last three months and a win rate over 70% on all maps bar Inferno in the last three months. Their 50% win rate on Inferno isn’t bad, either. When they build a head of steam, they can be very hard to stop.
Heroic go into this tournament in great form, which is reflected in their number 1 ranking. They’re a versatile team, with a win rate of over 66% on every map bar Vertigo – even on Vertigo, they have a healthy win rate of 50%.
We assume that they aren’t the favorites because they lack a player in the mold of ZyWoo on their roster. Stavn is an excellent player who has averaged 0.76 kills and 0.65 deaths per round in the last three months, but he can’t swing games on his own like ZyWoo or S1mple. The win against Vitality last month will give them some confidence, so there’s reason to believe they’ve got the edge heading into this tournament.
It’s a bit of a surprise to see G2 so high on the list. They’ve only got a win rate of 58.8% in the last three months and have fallen short whenever they’ve played the likes of Heroic, Vitality, or FaZe in recent weeks. They’ve also got a clear weakness on the Ancient map and haven’t really dominated a map like Vitality or Heroic.
Niko’s form has been a source of optimism, but he’ll need to outperform his average of 0.75 kills and 0.65 deaths per round if G2 are to win this tournament. There’s a lot of hype around them, but they haven’t delivered this season, and we doubt they’ll turn up in this tournament.
FaZe Clan look like a better shout than G2 currently, but they’ve also looked a level below Heroic and Vitality in recent matches against the big two. They lost 2-0 to both sides in the BLAST Premier Spring.
Unlike Heroic and G2, FaZe have someone who can go toe-to-toe with the best players in the league. Ropz, who has only spent one year with the team, has been incredible since his arrival. He has averaged 0.76 kills per round and 0.60 deaths per round in the last three months. There’s a sense that he’s yet to reach his full potential, which makes FaZe a very exciting proposition.
FaZe are strong on the likes of Mirage but a little flaky on Nuke and Anubis, which is a problem. Their lack of versatility has hurt them in the past, and it might cost them again.
With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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