The winners and losers of IEM Cologne 2021

July 19, 2021 | 0 | 1347| |

IEM Cologne 2021 has come to an end. The final event in the first half of 2021 before the player break was a key tournament for the whole scene besides being already one of the most prestigious yearly competitions trademarked in Counter-Strike.

More importantly, Cologne was a key event to advance various teams’ storylines, and we’re here to do take a closer look at those. Here’s eight stories from IEM Cologne – four teams who closed the tournament looking good, and five disappointments.

Winners – FaZe’s best performance in months

FaZe had an incredible run in IEM Cologne 2021
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
brokyAWPer1.14[ACE vs Gambit] | [4K vs Na’Vi] | [2K vs Heroic]
karriganIn-Game Leader0.89[4K vs Vitality] | [4K vs Gambit] | [clutch vs Na’Vi]
olofmeisterRifler [Support]0.93[olofmeister vs Complexity highlights]
rainRifler [Entry Fragger]1.03[4K vs Gambit] | [clutch vs Na’Vi]
TwistzzRifler1.15[4K vs Vitality] | [4K vs Gambit] | [3K vs Gambit]

Expectations for FaZe in Cologne before the event started were all around the place. Some expected the team to bomb out early based on their recent results, while other believed that this being a LAN could change the tides for the squad.

Now, we can say with all certainty that the latter was right. FaZe absolutely delivered in IEM Cologne, from their start at the Play-In stage to the playoffs, where they did upset Gambit before getting eliminated by Natus Vincere.

Fans who watched FaZe games could clearly note many differences compared to FaZe’s showings before Cologne. From Twistzz returning to form to karrigan’s improved calling, FaZe was a different beast on LAN.

Now heading to the player break, there’s a good chance that FaZe’s roster remain unchanged. However, it’s unclear if the team plans to stick with ‘olofmeister’ – or if he plans to stick with FaZe. For now, though, no speculations. Congratulations to FaZe for their spectacular run.

Losers – Mousesports leaves early, too early

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
acoRAWPer0.96[3K vs Liquid] | [clutch vs Liquid]
BymasRifler [Entry Fragger]0.94[ace vs Gambit] | [2v5 against Gambit]
dexterIn-Game Leader0.88
frozenRifler [Entry Fragger]1.02[2v5 against Gambit]
ropzRifler [Lurker]1.24[ace vs Gambit] | [4K vs NiP] | [clutch vs Liquid]

Looking back before IEM Cologne 2021 started, Mousesports was one of our favorites. While the team would definitely have a rough time against the likes of Natus Vincere or G2, they should still be able to reach the playoffs.

Yet, Mousesports never delivered. The team failed to impress even during the Play-In stage, where they got beaten by Ninjas in Pyjamas in their second game.

Mouz still managed to qualify to Cologne’s main event, but there, the team turned into a one-man show, with only Robin “ropz” Kool performing well consistently. Other players simply failed to show up when the team needed the most, especially David “frozen” Čerňanský.

It’s unfair, however, to blame Mousesports’ bad results on frozen alone. The team’s AWPer, ‘acoR’ was also missing against big opponents, and Bymas impact when it mattered was lacking, too.

Overall, Mousesports disappointed in Cologne, and the team should take a deep look at what led them to this result. Still, it’d be fair game to give this Mousesports roster more time. After all, this was Christopher “dexter” Nong first LAN leading Mouz.

Winners – G2 breaks the third-place curse and reaches IEM Cologne grand-finals

The Kovac cousins powered G2's run in IEM Cologne
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
AmaNEkAWPer0.97[clutch vs Complexity] | [4K vs Astralis] | [3K vs BIG]
huNter-Rifler1.11[4K retake vs Na’Vi] | [2v4 vs Astralis] | [3K vs Astralis]
JaCkzRifler [Entry Fragger]1.00
nexaIn-Game Leader0.96[3K vs BIG] | [3K vs Astralis] | [ace vs Na’Vi]
NiKoRifler / Hybrid1.17[clutch vs Na’Vi] | [2v4 vs Astralis] | [1v1 vs Gambit]

When the grand-finals between Na’Vi and G2 got confirmed, many fans noticed that this would be a rematch of IEM Katowice 2020 grand-finals. IEM Katowice 2020 was effectively the last international LAN event before the online era, and IEM Cologne 2021 is the first international LAN ever since the online era started.

Funnily enough, both matches ended with the same result, with Na’Vi winning them with a 3 – 0 score. Although this time it was a tighter series.

While G2’s last match didn’t end the way the team wanted, IEM Cologne 2021 in its entirety is a victory for G2. The team kept their dominant form from start to finish, until they met the bahamut spearheaded by ‘s1mple’. Moreover, G2 also finally broke their losing streak against Gambit, and survived a dangerous-looking Astralis to break their ‘3rd place curse’, which lasted five events.

After Cologne, there isn’t any doubts that G2 is one of the three best CSGO teams at the moment. They have beaten Gambit. They have broke their 3rd place curse. Now, they can start aiming at Natus Vincere, which will be their next target in the coming months.

Congratulations to G2. It’s important to remember that a second-place finish in a stacked tournament like IEM Cologne is far from a bad result. In G2’s case, considering all accomplishments they achieved, it’s safe to say that they did well.

Losers – FURIA and Team Liquid fail to impress in IEM Cologne

There were few infuriating teams to watch quite like FURIA and Liquid were during Cologne. Losing rounds they shouldn’t, players simply not performing up to what’s expected from them – it was far from a good showing from the two teams representing the Americas in the main IEM Cologne event, to sum it up. Both teams finished the tournament in 9th – 12th places.

Specifically regarding FURIA, it’s clear that the team needs a dedicated, high-caliber AWPer. Henrique “HEN1” Teles left FURIA with issues they still haven’t solved, and Lucas “honda” Honda, who recently stepped-up to FURIA’s main team after being benched earlier this year, won’t be able to fix them. FURIA has a great group of players, but they simply aren’t working together without that last piece of the puzzle.

Liquid issues are different, though. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, the team’s AWPer, was constantly missing shots that lost the team rounds, sure. Just like in Mousesports’ case, though, it’s unfair to blame everything on a single player. Liquid has shown deeper issues during their games, relying too much on individual plays earlier on and struggling as a team to work on effective set pieces.

So, what these two teams should do? In FURIA’s case, the team needs to look for someone to take the big green gun. As for the North Americans, Liquid’s situation is way more complicated. Do the team trust Stewie2K to keep leading them? Is the team willing to give themselves another shot in the second-half of the year? What about FalleN – is he holding Liquid back? – these, and many other questions surrounding Liquid can be only answered by Liquid players themselves.

Winners – Astralis is just fine

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
BubzkjiRifler1.01[ace vs Virtus.Pro] | [clutch vs Virtus.Pro]
dupreehRifler [Entry Fragger]1.03[3K vs Heroic] | [clutch vs Virtus.Pro] | [4K vs G2]
gla1veIn-Game Leader0.99[1v3 vs Na’Vi] | [4K vs G2]
MagiskRifler [Lurker]1.05[clutch vs FaZe] | [clutch vs Heroic] | [clutch vs FaZe]
Xyp9xRifler [Support]1.07[1v3 vs Na’Vi] | [3K vs FaZe]

Right before IEM Cologne started, Astralis captain Lukas “⁠gla1ve⁠” Rossander said in an interview that he doesn’t see his team becoming the best in the world again without an AWPer. He isn’t wrong, as the role is key for any team success in the current CSGO meta.

However, that never meant that Astralis would stop fighting for the throne of best team in Counter-Strike. In Cologne, the Danes once again demonstrated they are more than ready to take on any team.

Astralis run only ended in IEM Cologne semi-finals. There, the Danes lost to an impressive G2 in a heated game. Just like in their game against Na’Vi, Astralis didn’t fall without putting a fight, and in G2’s case, the game could have went in Astralis’ way if not by some of G2’s players massively stepping-up when it mattered the most.

With this performance closing Astralis first-half of 2021, the team has to ask themselves what they want going forward. Rumors around the team disbanding have been circulating for a while now. Now, however, there’s a real chance that a majority of the current team sticks together and try experimenting, to see what works best for them as a unity. Astralis might not reach the same stars they once did, but at the very least, they are more than able to secure their place among the best.

Losers – What Complexity can do next?

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
blameFIn-Game Leader1.17[1v1 vs FaZe] | [4K vs FaZe] | [ace vs G2]
jksRifler [Lurker]0.99
k0nfigRifler1.14[4K vs G2] | [clutch vs Virtus.Pro] | [3K vs LDLC]
poizonAWPer1.04[4K vs ViCi] | [4K vs LDLC]
RUSHRifler [Entry Fragger]0.89[1v2 vs ViCi] | [clutch vs LDLC]

Complexity ended IEM Cologne in a rough spot. Just like FaZe, some fans believed the team could turn their results around in Cologne with the LAN format, but not only this didn’t happen, Complexity finished last in the main IEM Cologne event.

The European squad games were rough for them. Their last game in the event saw them blow a 15 – 10 leads against Virtus.Pro who reverted the score in their favor. Next, in the final map of that series, Complexity had many rounds plagued by their constant mistakes.

This isn’t anything new for Complexity, though. The team has failed to perform in high-level events consistently, and most of their wins can be attributed to one of their players going above and beyond for the team – usually, this player either Kristian ‘k0nfig’ Wienecke or Benjamin ‘blameF’ Bremer.

The player break is an opportunity to Complexity reevaluate themselves as a team. First LAN in over a year, sure, but their results online aren’t good enough to back this current roster.

Winners – Natus Vincere wins big in IEM Cologne

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
B1TRifler1.22[4K HS vs FaZe] | [3K vs Vitality] | [4K vs Vitality]
Boombl4In-Game Leader0.98[clutch vs G2] | [clutch vs Renegades]
electronicRifler1.23[4K vs Renegades] | [4K HS vs G2] | [4K vs Astralis]
PerfectoRifler [Support]1.13[clutch vs G2] | [clutch vs Renegades] | [Perfect HE vs FaZe]
s1mpleAWPer1.51[ace vs Astralis] | [ace vs G2] | [ace vs Renegades]

Natus Vincere run in IEM Cologne 2021 was remarkable. The CIS squad didn’t lose a single game in the tournament. Furthermore, they also won the BO5 grand-final without dropping a single map to G2.

Cologne was also one of Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev best events ever. The Ukrainian finished the tournament with a massive 1.51 rating and finished four maps with 30 or more kills.

However, while s1mple is an irreplaceable player for Natus Vincere, Na’Vi dominance is the result of the whole team coming together. Both ‘electronic’ and ‘B1T’ are playing extremely well lately, and that brings the much-needed consistency that Na’Vi needed in past years.

Boombl4 and Perfecto efforts can’t be ignored, either. The two player complements the powerful trio by giving them the support, and in Boombl4’s case, also the tactical guidance whenever they need.

Overall, after the recent results seen from Na’Vi, there are no doubts when calling them the current best CSGO team in the world. Dominant, complete and proven, Na’Vi is looking forward to August, when they will return to work on establishing their own era.

Losers – OG nowhere to be seen

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating during IEM Cologne 2021HIGHLIGHTS
AleksibIGL0.92[4K vs TOne]
flameZRifler [Entry]1.01[clutch vs TOne]
mantuuAWPer1.03[clutch vs Renegades] | [clutch vs Renegades]
nikoRifler [Support]0.88
valdeRifler [Lurker]1.09[3K vs BIG]

Just like Mousesports, OG was one team coming to Cologne with high expectations. After all, the team was coming to Cologne right after IEM Summer, a tournament where OG finished second, only losing to Gambit in the grand-finals.

Then, everything went down when OG got eliminated before the main event of IEM Cologne. The team only won one match in the Play-In, against Team One. Their following games saw OG getting upset by Renegades and then defeated by BIG. In both BO3 series, OG didn’t win a single map.

Now, the squad faces a difficult situation. Foremost – what happened during the event? Can this roster recover from it? After all – OG finished Flashpoint 3 in last place before coming to IEM Summer. Was the whole IEM Summer a fluke rather than OG improving?

Inexperience taking its toll?

It’s important to note that in OG’s situation, the team’s newest player, Shahar ‘flameZ’ Shushan, was a key player for OG before Cologne, but he has almost zero experience playing on LAN, and actually felt under the weather during the event. Mateusz ‘mantuu’ Wilczewski, the team AWPer, also doesn’t have enough experience with LAN events. With both players underperforming, there’s a chance that this is the result of them getting overwhelmed by the new environment. In that case, OG will definitely consult with the organization’s esports psychologist during the break.

For now, OG will have plenty of time to regroup and reevaluate themselves. Finishing almost last in Cologne must have hurt, but if the team itself still believes in the project, they should stick together for the next season. OG leaving so early in Cologne was disappointing, and above everything, it was also sad. We hope they can come back and prove to everyone that they still can be the team they aim to be – one of the best.

The player break is now on

The highest tier in CSGO esports will now enter a quick break in order to catch their breath. After all, the second-half of 2021 promises to be much different than the first one with LANs returning in force and the Major in the horizon.

However, if there’s something that we’ve learnt after all those years is that CSGO never stops. The in-server actions might be dropping, but now it’s also the time that many teams will be picking contracts, and many players will decide the future of their careers.

If you want to keep with all that, then make sure to follow us!

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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