Last week, Counter-Strike saw the start of one of the last premier tournaments of the year, IEM Winter. After a series of incredible matches, though, the event is now on break until next weekend.
This means that we have a great opportunity to review the most interesting storylines and developments that happened during this past week. Without further ado, here are the key headlines from the past week in IEM Winter.
It has been a difficult year for FaZe Clan’s CSGO division. After some up and many downs, though, the 2021 has come to an end for the squad. Unfortunately, though, they ended the year in a not-so-good note.
FaZe came to IEM Winter after a series of mixed to negative results. Most recently, they had just finished in 5 – 6th place in BLAST Premier Fall Series, and coming to Stockholm this past week FaZe needed to show something better than they did then.
Unfortunately, FaZe didn’t. Finn “karrigan” Andersen’s team felt to the lower-bracket in their opening game against BIG. The team survived their next game against Heroic, but couldn’t survive Gambit.
Make no mistake, though: FaZe put a good fight in each one of their games. Helvijs “broky” Saukants had an incredible match against BIG. Against Heroic, it was Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson time to shine. The former also gave Gambit some serious headache in their final match. Unfortunately, though, FaZe also displayed critical flaws in each map they played, just like they have done in past tournaments.
2021 is a year to forget for FaZe and fans of its Counter-Strike division. Having failed to reach the playoffs of every event they attended but IEM Cologne – the event that sparked some hope in this roster after a series of disappointments. They never reached that level again, and the next step for this squad is the end of the year shuffle season. Time to restart.
IEM Winter was the first premier tournament for this new FNATIC roster, and expectations were off the roof. And there was a good reason for it, after all, this is the most promising roster FNC has fielded in Counter-Strike in a long while.
Unfortunately, FNATIC’s run at IEM Winter wasn’t as deep as fans wanted. At the same time, though, it proved that this team has a promising future. At IEM Winter, FNATIC failed to win their opening BO1 game against Gambit, but reached the end of their group’s lower-bracket after winning against ENCE and BIG.
In FNC’s final match in the event, Alex “ALEX” McMeekin and his teammates faced Gambit once again, this time in a best-of-three game. In the first two maps, it was incredible disputed game. However, Gambit’s Overpass ended breaking the UK squad in the decider map. After playing six long maps and playing well after midnight, FNC was out of IEM Winter.
Still, FNATIC might not have reached the playoffs, but this team still is a promising one. Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin is recovering his form. William “mezii” Merriman is one of the best players the organization could’ve signed this year. And the team found a great candidate for the AWPer role with Owen “smooya” Butterfield. The pieces are in place, and now it’s a matter of time until this squad proves itself as a contender.
Overall, FNATIC came to IEM Winter with one objective: prove that this team worked in a premier LAN tournament. Last time they went to an offline event, at IEM Fall, FNATIC absolutely failed. This time around, they did it just fine.
When GODSENT signed a Brazilian roster back in January, many frowned upon the decision. The organization had a promising European roster back then, and Epitácio “TACO” de Melo’s project didn’t inspire much confidence.
However, almost four seasons later, GODSENT managed to reach the playoffs of a premier tournament, the latest accomplishment of this squad after a series of positive results in recent months.
To make matters better, GODSENT was truly put to the test in the past week. The squad had to face Heroic, then BIG to qualify to IEM Winter’s playoffs. After winning against both, the team failed to win over Virtus.Pro for a spot in the semi-finals. Their journey came to an end in the quarter-finals after a surprisingly competitive match against NiP.
GODSENT might not have won IEM Winter, but for a squad that was struggling in North America earlier this year, it has been a long way. The Brazilians have grinded their way into, and if their showing at IEM Winter means something, it is that all that work is paying off. Mind you, this squad is far from perfect, and there’s much more work in their way, but GODSENT is in the right path. A promising year ahead.
Heroic is one of the strongest Counter-Strike teams in the world, and their recent results back up this claim – except their most recent result at IEM Fall. After finishing in 3 – 4th place at the PGL Major Stockholm, and 4th place at BLAST Fall Finals, Heroic crashed in Stockholm this past week and closed their run at IEM Winter in last place.
As for the reason for such a bad performance, Heroic just committed too many mistakes in-game. From losing advantages to individual mistakes, this will be an event that every Heroic player will want to just forget.
However, still unfair to ignore the fact that Heroic just had finished BLAST Premier Fall Finals before coming to IEM Winter. Two LAN tournaments back-to-back could strain any squad, and Heroic has accomplished enough for this result to be considered an outlier.
As for Heroic’s future, the squad will have some much-needed time to recover, but 2021 is not over for the Danes yet. Heroic will be heading to BLAST Premier World Finals next Tuesday, and hopefully the squad will bounce back then. Disappointing? Yes. Worrisome? Not so much.
Having finished IEM Winter 2021 in last place and 9 – 12th respectively, MOUZ and OG once again disappointed fans this past week. However, as disappointing as it might be, it’s not a surprise for anyone who has been following any of these squads.
MOUZ and OG both had a year to forget besides a few isolated achievements. Now, with the competitive season coming to an end for them, it’s more than clear that both teams will be entering the end of the year shuffle.
And it’s for a good reason. While both MOUZ and OG struggled for the better part of the year, during IEM Winter both squads didn’t seem interested in putting an effort. MOUZ felt disconnected, and OG had five individuals playing independently.
For MOUZ and OG, there aren’t excuses, and no reason to search for them. Rumors for both squads have surfaced, and in 2022 it’s clear that we’ll see different rosters fighting for both organizations. Don’t dwell, just let it go.
IEM Winter 2021 returns this Saturday
IEM Winter 2021 is on a break, but the action returns this Saturday! In order to make sure you don’t miss a single beat of everything esports, make sure you follow us here! And we haven’t forgotten about teams like G2, NiP, Virtus.Pro and Vitality which still are fighting for IEM Winter’s trophy – we will be covering the playoffs later this week!