July is here, and while Counter-Strike professionals have the player break coming up, there’s one key event before the mid-year pause. This event, of course, is the prestigious IEM Cologne, formerly known as ESL One Cologne.
If you want to make sure you’re ready to follow the event, then we got your back. Below, we have all the information you will need, as well ongoing storylines from teams in the event!
IEM Cologne 2021 will be featuring a total of 24 teams. The Play-In stage kicks off July 6th, 10:00 AM GMT / 12:00 PM CET. This stage will see the sixteen teams from above competing for eight spots in the main event. The top teams from the Play-In will join another eight already qualified squads in the main IEM Cologne event which starts July 8th.
The event format is the following: the Play-in features a double-elimination bracket. The group stage runs a double-elimination GSL format (two groups with eight teams each), where the top three teams from each group advances to the playoffs. The playoffs are run in a single-elimination bracket format.
All matches will be played on an offline environment with no in-site crowd. The opening matches from the Play-In stage will be the only ones played on a best-of-one map format; following matches are BO3 games and the grand-final is set to be a BO5.
ESL has recently announced the first games of the event, too. You can see the Play-In bracket below, as well as the list of teams who have already qualified to the main event.
Going on, we’ve listed five storylines that you will want to keep an eye on. Of course, not any match is to be missed, but these teams have something more going on during IEM Cologne 2021.
During the Play-Ins, many eyes will be set on Mousesports and OG. The European squads are coming to the tournament with solid results to back them up, and IEM Cologne is the perfect stage for both teams to finally breakthrough.
Again, both teams have results to back them up. Mousesports won Flashpoint 3 and OG has finished IEM Summer in second-place, only losing to Gambit in the grand-finals.
Unfortunately, both of these results have some fine-prints attached to them. Flashpoint 3 didn’t feature either Na’Vi or Gambit, the two best teams in the world currently. IEM Summer saw OG reach second-place but they got dismantled by Gambit in the grand-finals.
IEM Cologne will be the event to clear out any doubts left around these two teams. The best teams in the world are here, both teams will have to start from the bottom as they are playing in the Play-In stage, and of course, IEM Cologne is an offline event. No excuses here – it’s time for Mouz and OG to show what they are capable of.
In their opening games, Mouz will be facing Bad News Bears, while OG will take TeamOne’s challenge comes July 6th.
Already qualified to the main Cologne event, G2 and Na’Vi, are the third- and second-best teams in the world at the moment according to the HLTV World Rankings. Both teams, however, are lacking what they need to go to the next level.
Since November last year, Gambit and Na’Vi have beaten G2 three times each, without losing once. Na’Vi, in the other hand has lost games against Gambit out of the seven encounters they had from January 1st to June 31st 2021.
Having these results in mind, IEM Cologne is the event to turn the tides. G2 is taking notes from their past encounters with both of their nemesis, while Na’Vi will have to watch out for a dangerous G2 as well as a Gambit roster that seems more dominant by the day.
G2 and Na’Vi will have their first games in Cologne in July 8th.
Astralis isn’t having an easy year in 2021. The Danes recently lost their star awper, Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, to the Ninjas in Pyjamas, which negatively impacted the team.
Since that move, there’s plenty of speculation regarding which players could be on Astralis’ shortlist. Unfortunately, however, as Astralis’ players contracts are close to expire, worrisome rumors about the team’s core parting ways with the organization have also been making the news.
IEM Cologne will be a complicated event for Astralis. It’s clear that the Danish team is waiting for the player break in order to make any big decision. However, if rumors are to be trusted, getting a good result in Cologne is important. If not this team might not last much long together.
Therefore, don’t expect Astralis to let their opponents run over them. As shown in the previous tournaments, they are far from their peak level, but they still can do much damage.
During a specific period of 2021, many eyes were watching Heroic. The team, led by Casper “cadiaN” Møller won EPL Season 13 over Gambit, became the best team in Denmark, and finished high in DreamHack Masters Spring.
Yet, their last two showings haven’t been quite exciting as the ones mentioned above. Heroic finished in 4th place in Flashpoint 3, and ended in 9th – 12th place in IEM Summer 2021.
These results, of course, are a departure of what fans were expecting from Heroic since their win over Gambit earlier in the year. Still, not all hope is lost as they have a great chance to close the first semester of the competitive year on a high note.
For this, Heroic have to perform well in Cologne and they simply can’t afford to be eliminated before the playoffs. Otherwise, the momentum built by cadiaN’s team will be gone, and they will quickly fall from their top five position in the world rankings.
Gambit is, undoubtedly, the best CSGO team in the world at the moment. Their dominance became clear during IEM Summer and BLAST Premier Spring Final, and the team is looking stronger each match.
Na’Vi and Heroic managed to shake Gambit’s dominance earlier, but the Russian powerhouse successfully won over both in recent encounters. Right now, Gambit is the team to beat, and it’s going to take a lot to do it.
Still, IEM Cologne is still a key event for the team led by Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov. This is the last event Gambit will take part before the players break and it’s also the first international offline event in CSGO in a long time.
Winning in Cologne – or at least ranking high – will settle any doubts some may have about Gambit’s dominance. If nafany manages to convert their online results to offline tournaments, Gambit can establish their own era in Counter-Strike history.
IEM Cologne 2021 is a highly important event for Counter-Strike for various reasons. Not only it marks a key point in Counter-Strike history as teams return to offline events, it also is an important for many teams.
Of course, you won’t want to miss a beat – so we got your back. Follow us here to keep up with everything esports.