IEM Cologne 2021 Playoffs Preview

July 12, 2021 | 0 | 317| |

IEM Cologne 2021, one of the most prestigious tournaments in Counter-Strike, as well as the last tournament before the player break this year, has reached its climax. Out of the 24 teams who originally headed to the event, only six are still in the competition.

These six teams are now competing for the lion’s share of the tournament’s $1.000.000 prize pool, and getting defeated here means that the Cologne dream is over. Furthermore, the 2021 edition of IEM Cologne (previously known as ESL One Cologne) is even more special than normal, as it’s the first international LAN tournament in CSGO since over a year.

The stakes are at their highest. From now on, only the absolutely best will keep advancing. Let’s take a better look at who are the six remaining teams at IEM Cologne.

FaZe up in Cologne

Led by Karrigan, FaZe has finally turned their luck around in IEM Cologne 2021.
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaIEM COLOGNE 2021 HLTV RATING
karriganIn-Game Leader0.90
TwistzzRifler1.23
olofmeisterRifler [Lurker / Support]0.99
rainRifler [Entry]1.06
brokyAwper1.15

Karrigan’s FaZe Clan has been the biggest surprise so far in IEM Cologne. After a series of bad results leading to this event, expectations for FaZe weren’t great. Yet, the team started their journey in the Play-In stage of the event, and there, FaZe was already looking much better than they did in past tournaments.

After beating Evil Geniuses and Complexity in the Play-In and qualifying to IEM Cologne’s main event, FaZe faced a mighty Astralis which sent them to the tournament’s lower bracket.

On the LBs, FaZe would face a dangerous selection of teams: Team Spirit, Vitality and Heroic. Yet, much thanks to Twistzz, broky and olofmeister, FaZe was able to defeat all of those teams. Vitality couldn’t even take one map from Karrigan’s team.

Heading to the playoffs, FaZe again has a massive challenge ahead of them. Gambit, the best team in the world, is waiting for FaZe in the quarter-finals. However, if there’s something to be learnt from FaZe’s offline journey in Cologne, is to not count them out until the match is over. Gambit has shut many who doubted them in IEM Cologne, but the team has started to show weaknesses and FaZe could very well exploit those to upset the Russian powerhouse.

Is the slump over for Virtus.Pro?

Virtus.Pro is finally seeing better days in IEM Cologne
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaIEM COLOGNE 2021 HLTV RATING
JameIn-Game Leader, Awper1.11
qikertRifler [Entry]1.11
YEKINDARRifler1.16
busterRifler [Lurker]1.01
SANJIRifler [Support]0.78

Before coming to Cologne, Virtus.Pro had a series of mixed results over the past couple of months. In the previous tournament VP took part of, the team failed to impress. Getting defeated by the likes of Entropiq and 100PingGods surely didn’t inspire confidence.

In Cologne, Virtus.Pro didn’t kick off the tournament with the right foot, either. The team lost to BIG in their opening match, failing immediately to the lower-bracket.

Fortunately for the team led by ‘Jame’, they managed to turn the tides once right after their game with BIG. The team struggled against Complexity but managed to eliminate them after a disputed BO3, quickly ended NiP’s run in Cologne and then confidently won their rematch against BIG.

Now, the Eastern European roster is looking forward to their encounter against Astralis. Few teams can be as dangerous as Astralis, but Virtus.Pro is looking much, much better now. If they can keep up this momentum, VP has everything they need to go even deeper in the event.

The Kovacs’ lead G2 to a deep run in Cologne

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaIEM COLOGNE 2021 HLTV RATING
nexaIn-Game Leader0.99
AmaNEkAwper1.02
JaCkzRifler [Entry]1.11
huNter-Rifler1.21
NiKoRifler, Awper1.24

G2 run in Cologne so far has been a short one, and with a good reason. The team stars, cousins ‘NiKo’ and ‘huNter’ have been putting great performances non-stop, and the three other G2 players aren’t tracking behind by much either.

Since the squad qualified to Cologne’s main event directly, the team has only played three games. In their opening game, G2 demolished blameF’s Complexity and then proceeded to send BIG to the lower-bracket. The team was then set to face Gambit, the best team in the world. Thanks to the cousins as well as the team’s awper ‘AmaNEk’, G2 managed to close that game in their favor, sending Gambit to the quarter-finals, while they booked a semi-finals spot for themselves.

G2’s next game in IEM Cologne will be against the winner of the Astralis and Virtus.Pro game. At this point, no matter who wins, G2 will be more than eager to face them. G2 is one of the two favorites to make to the grand-finals, and it won’t be easy to send them home before that.

Astralis is far from done

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaIEM COLOGNE 2021 HLTV RATING
gla1veIn-Game Leader0.97
BubzkjiRifler0.95
dupreehRifler [Entry], Awper1.06
MagiskRifler [Lurker]1.04
Xyp9xRifler [Support]1.06

Coming to IEM Cologne 2021, negativity surrounded Astralis. The Danish team has been having a difficult year so far, and while they were qualified to the main event directly, many expected gla1ve’s team to be eliminated early on.

Yet, to prove many wrong, Astralis gave one hell of a show in Cologne. The Danes were able to win against both FaZe Clan and Heroic without dropping a map to them. On their final group stage game, a dubious map pick against Na’Vi put them at a massive disadvantage, and at the end, even after winning in one of Natus Vincere favorite maps, Dust2, s1mple’s team was too much for Astralis. Still, Astralis has shown that they still are one dangerous team.

Astralis next game is set to be a quarter-final BO3 game against Virtus.Pro. VP might be showing signs of recovery, but Astralis is far from done like many have thought before this event. If there’s one team that could stop VP recovery right on its tracks, it is Astralis.

Gambit shuts doubts, but show weaknesses

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaIEM COLOGNE 2021 HLTV RATING
nafanyIn-Game Leader1.18
Ax1LeRifler1.19
HobbitRifler1.20
interzRifler [Support]0.91
sh1roAwper1.24

The last couple of weeks have been quite a ride for nafany’s Gambit. The team was defeated by Natus Vincere right before IEM Cologne 2021, and more recently, it was G2 who defeated Gambit in a BO3 during Cologne’s group stage.

Yet, Gambit has solved an important matter in Cologne already. The team has shown that they aren’t “onliners”, and that Gambit is just as dangerous online as they are in LAN games.

Now, it’s time for Gambit to prove that they are still the best team in the world. To reach the playoffs, Gambit had to defeat Mousesports and NiP, and the team only lost to G2 in their final group stage game. While that defeat to G2 might hurt, it still is a solid record.

In the playoffs, Gambit will be facing FaZe Clan first. There are no doubts that FaZe will be using much of their time studying Gambit in preparation – and there’s plenty of material to study.

Still, there’s no way to count Gambit off the tournament. Nafany has shown time and time again that Gambit is more than capable to quickly adapt after losses, and they will have some time to implement changes before the playoffs. If FaZe wants a chance, they better bring an even better iteration of themselves than what we saw in the group stage.

Natus Vincere looks unstoppable

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaIEM COLOGNE 2021 HLTV RATING
Boombl4In-Game Leader, Rifler [Support]0.96
B1TRifler1.18
electronicRifler1.25
PerfectoRifler [Support], Rifler [Lurker]1.14
s1mpleAwper1.52

Before coming to IEM Cologne 2021, Na’Vi won StarLadder CIS RMR 2021 after defeating Gambit in a BO5 game. This was a key event to boost Natus Vincere’s morale, and it certainly impacted them.

During Cologne’s group stage, Na’Vi, led by ‘Boombl4’, had to face Renegades, Vitality and Astralis to qualify to the playoffs. While both Renegades and Vitality each managed to win their map picks against Natus Vincere, both teams got demolished afterwards. Astralis managed to take Na’Vi’s own map pick, D2, in their encounter after double overtime. However, s1mple made short work out of the Danes in their own map as well as on the decider.

Now, Natus Vincere heads to the semi-finals, waiting to see which team will be facing them: FaZe or Gambit. No matter who, Na’Vi knows that they are the favorites to win the event right now. If they keep playing on the same level as they have been so far, with ‘electronic’, ‘B1t’ and ‘s1mple’ putting world-class performances back-to-back, it will be very hard to stop them from claiming the trophy.

IEM Cologne Playoffs start July 16th!

After one of the busiest weeks in CSGO, the six teams in IEM Cologne playoffs will have a small break. However, comes Friday 16th, four out of the six teams will be heading back to ESL servers. On Saturday, it will be time for the playoffs. On Sunday, get ready for a massive best-of-five maps game between the two best teams in Cologne.

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The author

My name is Marcos, I have been following the CSGO pro scene since 2015 but really got into in following games and pro teams in 2016. Used to bet a lot, stopped a bit but never stopped following the esports scene. I'm a student right now so I got a lot of time to keep with it and discover new things.

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