The IEM Chicago 2019 is the first stop for Season 3 of the Intel Grand Slam. With Team Liquid winning Season 2 in four straight events, they secured the prize pool of $1 million. The new season comes with an updated rulebook laying emphasis on certain tournaments and increasing their importance in the Counter-Strike circuit. 

The IEM Chicago 2019 tournament features a total prize pool of $250,000. The event has eight participating teams and will take place at the United Center in Chicago. Spread out over a period of four days, IEM Chicago 2019 the event has a very even spread of teams in the Counter-Strike scene. 

The Participating Teams

  1. Team Liquid
  2. Vitality
  3. MiBr
  4. Renegades
  5. Team Envy
  6. G2 Esports
  7. Heroic

There are multiple storylines at IEM Chicago and it will also mark the beginning of Intel Grand Slam Season 3. A headstart in the Intel Grand Slam could signal the start of a new era. For now, Intel Grand Slams seems to be the best criteria to determine which is the best team in the world at present. 

The French Competition

It is after a long time that the two French teams will compete in the same tournament. Both G2 and Vitality have been in the Grand finals against Team Liquid. While the result was the same for both, it bodes well for the French Counter-Strike scene to see the two teams at the top. 

The two teams are in different groups at IEM Chicago. The only chance for them to compete against each other is in the Playoffs. While Vitality looks well-positioned to qualify to the Playoffs, G2 has had inconsistent performances. G2 will be directly competing with MiBr for the Playoff spot, it is an even competition with either team capable of reaching the Playoffs. 

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Vitality: Not just about Zywoo

Vitality is possibly the best French team at present.
Vitality is slowly emerging to be the best French team. Image Via: Dreamhack

Vitality is definitely the more flamboyant team with Zywoo leading the charge for the French team. The team’s performance has skyrocketed in the past few months. While the initial months of success were mostly based on their young superstar, the team has evolved in recent months. 

With players such as NBK and Apex on the team, they have no shortage of entry-fraggers. The team has adjusted its playstyle to help Zywoo get into favorable positions. He can trade frags with either the AWP or the rifle. The absence of a dedicated AWPer on the team means that Zywoo takes on the role of the AWPer. 

Zywoo of Team Vitality
Zywoo is integral to Team Vitality’s performance. Photo via: Dreamhack

Players such as RPK, ‘The Tank’ enable Zywoo the freedom and flexibility in his game. Vitality’s playstyle has evolved over the past few months. They have secured a Top two placement at CS_Summit, ESL One Cologne 2019, ECS Season 7 LAN as well as the Charleroi Esports tournament. The regularity of their victories and their placements is what makes Vitality the better team amongst the two. 

G2 Esports: Inconsistent performances but great potential

KennyS of G2 Esports
KennyS’ form is crucial to any future for the current G2 roster. Image Credit: ESL

The ‘Primary’ French roster features some stalwarts of the French Counter-Strike scene. With players such as KennyS, Shox and Jacks on the team; this roster is already making moves. Their decision to add players such as Lucky and Jackz in November and later AmaneK was confusing to many. But the team has made it work wonders so far. With KennyS performing at a much higher than average level, there is no limit to the team’s skill ceiling. 

The team reached the Grand finals of ESL Pro League LAN finals. It was a momentous occasion for the French team since their path to the finals moved through Faze and NRG. However, G2 has not really been tested against the best teams in Counter-Strike. Their appearance at the ESL Pro League LAN Finals was as much about Luck as about talent. If they can repeat their performance at IEM Chicago 2019, we will hopefully see more confidence in the team’s abilities. 

The Team Liquid Era

Team Liquid lifting ESL One Cologne 2019 Trophy
Team Liquid won Intel Grand Slam Season 2 with their Cologne 2019 victory. Image Credit: ESL

We are present in the Team Liquid, an era which saw the North American team win the Intel Grand Slam in four consecutive events. It comes close on the heels of the Astralis victory for Intel Grand Slam Season 1. 

Team Liquid, while winning four consecutive events has not looked as dominant as Astralis. The precision in tactics and strategy that came from Astralis’ performance is not replicated on Team Liquid. They barely make it to the tournament victories and they have had multiple overtime wins. 

As we dawn on the start of Intel Grand Slam Season 3, there are multiple challenges for the spot of the best team. Team Liquid is undoubtedly the best team, however, teams such as Astralis, ENCE, and Vitality are close behind. IEM Chicago will be a perfect opportunity for Team Liquid to start their IGS campaign on a positive note. They are the favorites to win the event, although they will face competition from Vitality, MiBr, G2 as well as ENCE Gaming. 

Team Liquid’s ability to remain at the top has been under constant speculation. The initial victories were considered flukes, and later the argument was the lack of conviction in their wins. However, they have persevered and crossed the finish line. They come into this tournament as the favorites. Anything other than a victory would be disappointing for the best North American team. 

ENCE and MiBr

The ENCE CSGO roster
The Finnish team, ENCE was the Grand Finalists at IEM Katowice 2019 Major.

ENCE and MiBr are the two teams with a lot of potential in their firepower. However, the two teams have consistently disappointed us with their inconsistent nature. ENCE was the Grand finalist at the IEM Katowice 2019 Major. However, their performance post the Major has seen several ups and downs. They have reached the Grand finals of multiple Blast Pro events and secured the victory. However, in other events such as the ESL One Cologne, ENCE have been eliminated in the Group stage itself. 

The team is a vibrant roster of youngsters supporting the extremely aggressive style of AWP by Allu. Their Youtube Series consistently displays why the team has such excellent synergy and coordination within the server. Most of it is due to their camaraderie off the server and AleksiB plays an important role in the same. 

The Brazilian Dream: MiBr

Coldzera is the star player for Made in Brazil's CSGO roster.
Coldzera requested a transfer from MiBr. He will not be playing for the Brazilian squad. Image Credit: HLTV

Made in Brazil was made with the intention of being the best team in Brazil. To some extent, they have been successful in achieving this result. However, the MIBr team has definitely fallen off its pedestal of being the best team in the world. The Brazilian team has constantly made changes to its roster. Their endeavor to become the best team in the world has seen role changes within the roster and multiple changes to the roster. They brought on Tarik and Stewie2k in the hopes of creating a world-class team. 

But lack of good communication and form from the players meant that MiBr was never close to its goal. Recently MiBr lost Coldzera and it is still unclear what their playing roster will be. MiBr is building its roster from the ground up. Their decision not to field Coldzera at the Major is partly due to their willingness to start preparing for life without Coldzera. 

MiBr can possibly upset a team or two at IEM Chicago. However, realistically speaking, they have no chance of winning the tournament in Chicago. 

Changes to the Intel Grand Slam Season 3

Intel has initiated a few changes to its Season 3. The new changes aim towards enabling a much better and complete representation of the Counter-Strike scene. This will include the Counter-Strike Majors from 2020 along with specially chosen tournaments in the calendar year. 

Teams now have two ways of winning the Intel Grand Slam Season and securing the $ 1 million prize pool. 

  1. Winning four Masters-level CS: GO tournaments including one (or more) designated Masters-level CS: GO tournament inside a span of ten consecutive tournaments.
  2. Winning six Masters-level CS: GO tournaments inside a span of ten consecutive events.

The Intel Grand Slam serves to recognize the eras in Counter-Strike. It will be a useful measurement to compare teams and their success across time. Of course, Team Liquid winning four consecutive events is something that is going to be difficult to overcome. 

A team can still win the Intel Grand Slam if they are able to win six Masters Level CS: GO tournaments. This has to be achieved within a span of ten consecutive events. Winning six out of ten events does sound extremely difficult, however, these events will provide an opportunity for teams to win the Intel Grand Slam. 

The updated rules definitely make it more difficult for teams to win the Intel Grand Slam. However, these rules will definitely ensure better recognition of Counter-Strike eras and provide a comparison of these time periods. 

IEM Chicago is the first step in Intel Grand Slam Season 3. The event commences on 18th July and will be live on Twitch here


The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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