The IEM Sydney 2019 Semifinals Preview

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IEM Sydney 2019 is the biggest Counter-Strike event in Australia. The tournament sees the top teams in participation and is characterized by the very energetic crowd and the Australian enthusiasm. The 2019 edition of IEM Sydney saw 16 teams competing against each other in the Group stage and the First part of the playoffs. Team Liquid and NRG esports did not lose a single map and ensured their position at the semifinals of the event.

The remaining four teams formed the participants of the quarterfinals. As we saw yesterday, MiBr managed to defeat Mousesports, while XYZ beat ABC. Let’s take a look at the four remaining teams at IEM Sydney 2019.

The Intel Extreme Masters 2019 offers a prize pool of $250,000 with the first placed team getting $100,000. It is a matter of prestige for many teams as they will compete against some of the best teams in the world. With Astralis’ absence from this tournament, it becomes a race to determine their position and ranking amongst the Counter-Strike teams.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid are the favourites to win IEM Sydney 2019. Image Credit: ESL

Arguably the best team at the event, Team Liquid would be disappointed with anything other than a tournament victory. The roster is the best North American squad and if it were not for Astralis, they would probably be the best team in the world. A big part of their success comes from their excellent synergy and quick adaptation to the surroundings. Team Liquid has some of the best players from North America, but it is also the team to fear at this tournament.

Team Liquid Roster:

 

  • Nicholas ‘Nitro’ Cannella
  • Jonathan ‘Elige’ Jablonowski
  • Russel Van ‘Twistzzz’ Dulken
  • Keith ‘NAF’ Markovic
  • Jacky ‘Stewie2k’ Yip

At IEM Sydney, Team Liquid has already managed to defeat NIP, BIG Gaming and BOOTd[s]. The dominance showcased by the North American squad was truly spectacular. They had a relatively easy time against BOOT and against BIG Gaming. However, their match against NIP saw moments of lapse from the team.

Team Liquid’s performance stems from their ability to put forth strong individual performances. The team is already made up of some of the best players in the world but they often fail in the Grand finals or towards the latter stages of tournaments.

Right now, Team Liquid is working on their weaker maps in an attempt to strengthen their map pool. Overpass is their best map, according to an interview with HLTV.

I think Overpass is our best map currently and we’ve been working on our lower-tier maps, trying to not focus too much on our better maps. So we’ve been focusing more on Mirage, Inferno, Cache, they are getting rid of Cache though so that is kind of a weird scenario. We’re trying to play it here and there so we feel prepared, but not worry too much about it because I think we are still a good team on that map. We haven’t played Vertigo yet just because Sydney is the last event without it. Really, we have just been trying to focus more on our middle of the pool maps.

At the same time, the addition of Vertigo to the map-pool is definitely going to be a coin-toss for Team Liquid. We will see whether they can win this tournament as they are definitely the favourites to win IEM Sydney 2019.

Made in Brazil

 

Can MiBr put up a strong performance when it matters? Image Credit: ESL

The Made in Brazil roster made multiple changes to their roster after their attempt to form a superstar team did not work out in 2018. Their new roster features an all-Brazilian roster, one which has been at the very top of the Counter-Strike scene in the past. With Zews as their coach, it is familiar territory for the players. However, the team is still not able to produce anywhere close to the tier of results that one would expect from such a high-profile team.

MiBr roster:

 

  • Gabriel ‘Fallen’ Toledo
  • Fernando ‘Fer’ Alvarenga
  • Marcelo ‘Coldzera’ David
  • Epitácio de ‘TACO’ Melo
  • João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos

Made in Brazil finished third in the Blast Pro Series Los Angeles. However, what was even more interesting was their extremely poor results at the Starladder & I-League Season 7 saw them exit in the Group stage.

For now, Made in Brazil remains a strong team on paper, however, they have not really put forth any good results for faith in their performance. Mibr will face off against Team liquid and that will be a very difficult match for the Brazilians. Going up against probably the best team in the tournament is going to be tough for the Brazilian squad.

Fnatic

 

Fnatic had a very strong and close match against their local rivals NIP. Image Credit: ESL

The Swedish squad had a very entertaining and close match against their local counterparts in Ninjas in Pyjamas. Their quarterfinal match saw both the teams move very close and the last two maps went into Overtime. While NIP had a splendid performance, it was mostly due to amazing individual performances from the veterans in Get_Right and F0rest which allowed them to put up a fight. However, Fnatic just seemed to have a slight edge against the Ninjas, especially when it comes to the raw skill level on the team.

Twist was particularly strong on Dust 2 and he was able to get frags with little to no advantage for himself. He was able to get frags from very tight angles and provide Fnatic with the edge, especially on the T-side. At the same time, it was also satisfying to see JW put forth a very strong performance. If JW can find some of his old form back, we hope to see Fnatic rise to the top fo the Counter-Strike scene.

Fnatic Roster:

  • Freddy ‘Krimz’ Johansson
  • Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell
  • Richard ‘Xizt’ Landström
  • Simon ‘twist’ Eliasson
  • Ludvig ‘Brollan’ Brolin

Fnatic likes to play on open maps and they have formed a small map pool. With Vertigo in the map pool, almost every team in the tournament has a smaller map pool. Fnatic likes to experiment with different maps, and it won’t be long before we see them play exceptionally well on Vertigo as well.

At the same time, the roster requires time. They will be going up against NRG, a North American team. This match-up is much closer than the other semifinal and Fnatic actually has a decent chance of securing a Grand finals spot.

NRG Esports

 

Tarik from NRG esports. Image Credits: ESL

NRG managed to reach the semifinals after a straight run through the Group stage. En route to the semifinals, the team defeated MiBr and Faze Clan. Faze Clan was obviously playing without their IGL as well as their star player, Niko. This gave NRG a decent advantage when it comes to their performance against Faze Clan.

However, despite the weaknesses of their opponents, we cannot take away anything from NRG esports. Their roster features some really strong individual players. These players are still young and we hope to see them on even stronger teams in the future. They have a bright future, especially since they are already knocking at the doors of Tier 1 teams right now. They actually managed to defeat two really strong organisations such as Mibr and Faze Clan.

NRG Esports Roster:

 

  • Damian ‘daps’ Steele
  • Vincent ‘Brehze’ Cayonte
  • Cvetelin ‘CERQ’ Dimitrov
  • Ethan ‘Ethan’ Arnold
  • Tarik ‘Tarik’ Celik

NRG has a decent chance in this tournament, their performance post the Katowice Major has been really strong. They featured a Top 4 placement at the Starladder & I-League Season 7 tournament where they lost to Fnatic. They also finished at top of their group at the recent ESL Pro league Season 9 – Americas.

The team has the mastermind in the form of daps who has curated his playstyle and leadership to each player. While CERQ has showcased really strong online performance, on LAN he is just n average player. Brehze and Ethan usually step up on the team and they are the power centres on the roster. However, with the addition of Tarik to the team, this makes them a very strong team, especially when it comes to raw firepower.

NRG’s performance at this tournament will possibly catapult them into the big leagues. The team has potential and with the right guidance and synergy, we can see NRG rise to the top and become a Tier one team.

Their match against Fnatic will be a very close match and it will be interesting to see which team comes out ahead.

Final Thoughts

 

The IEM Sydney Semifinals already do not have the crowd-favourites NIP at the event. However, the four remaining teams all have a decent chance at possibly making it to the Grand finals and lifting the trophy.

IEM Sydney will always be known for the enthusiasm from the crowd and the loud Australian audience. You can catch all the action live on Twitch here.

 


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