After a week break, IEM Winter 2021, one of the last premier Counter-Strike tournaments of the year, will resume this Saturday. The event, which has already surprised us in various ways, is set to have its final three matches in the coming two days.
Of course, no Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fan will want to miss the action as it will be one of the final showings from the four teams in the event, so we have got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about the remaining of the event, as well as the storylines of the final four teams in contention.
IEM Winter will be resuming this Saturday (11th), at 3:00 PM UTC (you can check here to see which time this is in your current time zone). All games will be played from ESL’s studio in Stockholm, and the opening match of the weekend will feature Virtus.Pro and Vitality.
Once the first match ends, it will be then time for G2 and Ninjas in Pyjamas enter the server to close off the day. Then, on Sunday (12th), the winners of these two games will encounter in the grand-finals, which is a best-of-five maps game.
As for the rewards, IEM Winter’s champion will take home $100.000, and 1000 points in ESL’s Pro Tour circuit. 2nd place will leave with $42.000 and 750 points, and the 3rd and 4th places will leave Stockholm with $20.000 and 525 points each.
Now, here’s the backgrounds of the four contenders heading back in IEM Winter this Saturday. Check it out!
IEM Winter seemed like the perfect event for G2. As Natus Vincere decided to skip this event, G2 would be the favorites, and they were on their way to lift their first trophy of 2021. Unfortunately, though, the squad had to bring in a stand-in to Stockholm, as the team’s in-game leader couldn’t attend IEM Winter due to visa issues.
Fielding Kenny “kennyS” Schrub instead of Nemanja “nexa” Isaković, G2 started IEM Winter with lower expectations. In their opening match, G2 had to survive a dangerous scare by TyLoo. G2 managed to win that game, much thanks to Nikola “NiKo” Kovač stepping up. In their next encounter, G2 faced Team Liquid. The Americans have been looking somewhat dangerous lately, so they were a threat. The best-of-three series closed in favor of G2 as the Europeans won the first two maps in a close fashion.
Finally, it was time for one final game in the group stage against Vitality. Winning over Liquid meant that G2 already had qualified to the playoffs, and now they were playing for a direct spot in the semi-finals. Anyway, G2 came as the underdogs for this series, but the Europeans put up a fight from the first map – which Vitality won. However, G2 took control of the series in the following map, Mirage, with a strong CT-side, and they managed won the second and third maps in the game.
Now, while G2 has managed to book themselves a spot in the semi-finals, they had to fight incredibly hard for it. It’s clear that having kennyS instead of nexa is taking a toll in the team, but thanks to G2’s stars, they are pulling through with sheer firepower. At the same time, having kennyS also adds a level of unpredictability that G2 is playing in their favor.
In their upcoming match against NiP, G2 will once again have to fire on all cylinders to have a chance. The team can’t keep relying on the Kovac cousins as the only source of firepower going forward, and someone will have to step-up. NiP might not look as dangerous as Vitality, but that doesn’t mean that they will be an easy adversary. G2 needs to prepare, and make sure that they have more than only firepower to bring to their game if they want a chance to lift the trophy. Still, if there’s one team that could win IEM Winter without their captain, that squad is G2. Making our leader proud.
Just a few days before IEM Winter, NiP was having a rough time at BLAST Premier Fall Final. Back in Copenhagen, NiP finished in last place after being defeated by Astralis and Team Liquid, respectively. Finishing in last place then was worrying for the team which had just added Patrick “es3tag” Hansen. The Dane was seen as a complete upgrade over Linus “LNZ” Holtäng, and such a result brought down any expectations fans had for this squad.
Fortunately, NiP has bounced back in Stockholm. The team managed to win their opening match against Astralis, but got demolished by Vitality. The team kept putting a fight, though, and after eliminating OG and Team Liquid, NiP had booked a spot in the playoffs. Their following match saw them against GODSENT in the quarter-finals. The Brazilians were looking sharp, and they even took a map from NiP. Still, the Swedes were the stronger team on the server. NiP finished the series with a 2 – 1 record, and a strong showing in the decider map, Ancient.
Now, it’s time for the semi-finals. NiP has proven that they aren’t crumbling as some thought after the Fall Series, but they have the opportunity to proven even more this weekend. Their semi-finals opponent, G2, will be a difficult challenge, but not an impossible one. If NiP manages to overcome the IGL-less squad on Saturday, they will be one BO5 away from the trophy. NiP aren’t the favorites here, and every opponent seems to have more than enough to sent them packing, but it’s overcoming situations like this that a team builds a reputation and climb up the world rankings. Beat the odds.
Virtus.Pro is a known team for some tendencies of this squad. Some know about VP’s AWPer Dzhami “Jame” Ali’s life motto of ‘live to fight another day with an AWP’. Others might know them for always closing matches with as many rounds as possible. Another thing they’re also known for is that they are a competent team. That’s it. Virtus.Pro is a good team that might eliminate a few opponents here and there, but it has been a while since they were considered real contenders.
This could change now, though. Virtus.Pro has an opportunity to show that they can be more than just competent. And they’re in the right road for that. VP hasn’t dropped a single map, and that’s thanks for their latest addition, Evgeniy “FL1T” Lebedev. Alongside Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis and Jame, Virtus.Pro is on their way to field one of the strongest trios in current Counter-Strike. And IEM Winter might be the first event to see the squad touching on their potential.
Virtus.Pro next game in IEM Winter will have them facing the Frenchmen of Vitality. The Eastern Europeans are the underdogs here, but again, it will be hard, even for Vitality’s star Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut to hold such a dangerous Virtus.Pro at bay. Jame and his teammates have a real chance of reaching the grand-finals, and whether they face G2 or NiP, they will be the favorites then.
VP is a strong team – always have been – but over the course of 2021, they have lacked that last piece of the puzzle to help them step up. After slowly falling in the ranks, VP did a dangerous roster move, but so far, it’s paying off, and winning IEM Winter 2021 certainly would shut a lot of critics. It’s Virtus.Pro time!
When G2 announced that they would come to IEM Winter without their in-game leader, Vitality’s fans rejoiced. Without Natus Vincere in the tournament and G2 at a disadvantage, only Gambit could stop the Frenchmen.
However, even in these conditions, Vitality didn’t have the cleanest run in IEM Winter as some may have predicted. Vitality first two games had them surviving a dangerous scare by MOUZ, and then a more comfortable win over NiP. Then, Vitality faced G2 and unfortunately, the Frenchmen felt to the lower-bracket as NiKo’s team managed to beat the odds. After such a surprise, Vitality went to face Gambit, and it couldn’t be an easy game. Still, after a very competitive decider map in an otherwise not-so-disputed BO3, Vitality sent Gambit packing.
To no one’s surprise, though, the same issue that held Vitality from better results in the past keeps being an issue in IEM Winter. The team relies too much on ZywOo to bring up the frags, and the rest of the team simply can’t keep up. Sure, Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier is doing an invaluable job supporting this squad, Richard “shox” Papillon is often praised for his attitude with teammates and there are more positives about this team. Unfortunately, these positives don’t take the load off from ZywOo’s back.
So, going into the semi-finals and further, Vitality will once again rely on ZywOo to be the star this team needs. Then, they will hope for someone else to step-up and help the AWPer reach the finish line. This isn’t an ideal condition, but somehow, Vitality has made it work.
It’s easy to forget how dangerous this team has been since the player break, but it’s a fact that if a team needs a player to carry them, ZywOo is the man they’d call. This makes Vitality’s chances in IEM Winter very interesting. They aren’t favorites, but they are this dangerous wildcard that are definitely more than capable from breaking any other team still in contention. ZywOo skilled player…
Make sure to tune on ESL’s official Twitch channel this Saturday in order to not miss a beat from one of the final premier CS:GO events of the year. Then, make sure to also follow us here!