Intel Extreme Masters XIII – Chicago
As the end of the year draws near, IEM Chicago 2018 is one of the last chances teams have to make an impact on CS:GO this year. Following dominant performances by Astralis, Na’Vi and MIBR, these teams will be looking to continue their successes into the new year, with this tournament giving them a great opportunity to maintain momentum. Not only this but underdog teams such as NRG, LDLC and eUnited will be looking to make an impact, especially due to the $250,000 prize pool that is up for grabs. So, let’s get a good look at the teams to watch this week.
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Teams to Watch
Astralis (World Ranking – #1) – device, dupreeh, Xyp9x, gla1ve, Magisk
Astralis are a team at the top of their game right now and it is difficult to suggest that any other team are above them in terms of playstyle. This was undoubtedly set in stone by their performance at the FACEIT London Major, which took place in September of this year.
They will once again be looking to cement their position as the top team in Counter-Strike and as such will produce stellar team play. Definitely, a team to watch and back.
Natus Vincere (World Ranking – #2) – Edward, flamie, s1mple, Zeus, electronic
After a somewhat shaky start to 2018, the Na’Vi line up has turned around due to the work of s1mple, electronic and flamie. This backbone has resulted in a dominant side capable of taking on Astralis as one of the top teams right now. This was seen throughout the FACEIT London Major as Na’Vi took maps from FaZe, Fnatic, NiP during the New Legends stage but then taking not one but two 2-0 victories over BIG and Mibr.
Na’Vi will be looking to prove themselves as a top contender, especially with s1mple and electronics hunger for capturing a Major event title and this tournament will give them a good chance of preparing for Katowice in 2019.
BIG (World Ranking – #8) – gob b, tabseN, nex, tiziaN, smooya
This odd lineup of four Germans, including Counter-Strike legend Fatih “gob b” Dayik, and one UK youngster wouldn’t appear to be a good contender however, the recent matches suggest otherwise.
UK talent Owen “smooya” Butterfield has been a surprisingly impactful addition to the roster following his move from Epsilon eSports in April of 2018. Smooya was almost viewed as a Stewie2k-esque move by BIG but once again has proved successful after they placed 6th in the FACEIT London Major and more recently 3rd at cs_summit 3 earlier this month.
Group Stage Schedule – All Times CST(UTC-6)
Tuesday 6th – PRE-SHOW – 11:30AM, GROUP A & B – 12:00PM – 11:30PM
Wednesday 7th – PRE-SHOW – 11:30AM, GROUP A & B – 12:00PM – 10:25PM
Thursday 8th – PRE-SHOW – 11:30AM, GROUP A & B – 12:00PM – 10:25PM
Friday 9th – PRE-SHOW – 12:25PM, PLAYOFF #1 – BO3 – 01:00PM PLAYOFF #2 – BO3 – 04:50PM
Group Stage Predictions – Tuesday 6th
North Vs NRG (Group A)
This match could be considered a close quarter result with both North and NRG performing reasonably well at this time. Betting odds will most likely swing towards NRG being the victors in this match due to their recent 2-0 victory against North at StarSeries & I-League Season 6 in October this year. Not only this but NRG were the victors of cs_summit 3 beating OpTic Gaming in a BO5, 3-1. This matchup will likely showcase high fraggers such as CeRq and his AWP as well as strong clutches from valde and Kjaerbye.
Astralis Vs MVP PK (Group A)
All recent indicators suggest a strong lean towards Astralis for this matchup as the superstar Danish lineup led by gla1ve has been unstoppable on LAN recently as previously mentioned. There will be a strong lean in the odds towards Astralis with the Korean MVP PK being the severe underdogs in this situation. You can also expect to see an exceptional CT side from Astralis on maps such as Inferno and Nuke. This may result in MVP PK’s VETOs staying far away from these maps as they are aware of Astralis’ dominance as of late. As a prediction I suggest a strong win coming out from Astralis over MVP PK possibly even as severe as a 16-8.
MIBR Vs Renegades (Group A)
This match promises some great plays coming from both sides, especially with the recent hype surrounding Gratisfaction and his abilities. However, this match is expecting to swing towards MIBR as their lineup contains all Major winners. These players understand the stakes of high prize tournaments and how to perform at LAN. Plus, the roster has been seen to be becoming great friends and as a result, will increase team play and allow them to fuse better as a roster in-game. I expect then that this game will be a victory for MIBR but the odds may not be as drastic either way as the Astralis MVP PK game.
LDLC Vs FaZe (Group A)
After the return of Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson in July, the team has started to regain its skill which significantly dropped after Olof’s departure. This match should be a comfortable victory for the international lineup providing players such as GuardiaN and NiKo put up high numbers on the scoreboard. Although, it is unfair to rule out LDLC early on as they recently grafted some strong results against Astralis and Fnatic but may struggle to get rounds on the board when versus such a well-seasoned lineup of competitive players. As a result, I expect the game to end around a 16-10 victory for FaZe but it could be a closer match if LDLCs players step up and bring out a strong performance.
Na’Vi Vs eUnited (Group B)
With the ongoing display of masterful Counter-Strike being showcased by Na’Vi’s top players; electronic, s1mple and flamie, it is no doubt that the Ukrainian side will pull of an easy victory against the North American eUnited. This falls simply down to the high fragging playstyle of Na’Vis young talents combined with the intelligence of veteran Counter-Strike players Edward and Zeus. EUnited also doesn’t have a fantastic record in LAN events combined with the captain of the team FNS being recently dropped from Cloud9 due to his somewhat poor performances for the side. Expect to see a strong win for Na’Vi here no matter the map.
Fnatic Vs BIG (Group B)
With the recent roster changes within Fnatic some are expecting a possible disadvantage for the team. However, despite the loss of one of their high fragging players, Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, the lineup does not seem to be too phased and will continue to play the style that they have developed since 2014. It is expected that JW will continue to produce quality AWPing with backup from ex-NiP player Xizt. But, some shaky results from fnatic such as losses against LDLC, Windigo and even North as of late may come as a downfall for the Swedish side. On top of this BIG have been showing great promise since the FACEIT Major and ESL Pro League Season 8, even beating Fnatic 16-5 on Train in a BO1. This will be a close match and a difficult one to make predictions on but most will lean towards Fnatic as taking the map. It would also be a comfortable suggestion to bet with BIG as they are playing fantastic Counter-Strike this year.
Mouz Vs AVANGAR (Group B)
Mouz have always been a team to be interested in but have a bit of a mixed results bag in terms of this year’s tournaments. After failing to perform at the FACEIT Major the team then went on to win ESL One: New York, beating Liquid 3:2 in the finals. In terms of the match against AVANGAR it is expected to be a win in Mouz’ favour as AVANGAR have not had much experience in larger tournaments. However, it is not fair to rule them out as despite their lack of larger tournament experience they make consistent wins in lower events beating teams like ENCE in the IEM XIII European Qualifier to take first place as well as winning several minor events over the last 12 months. I would side with Mouz in this match but be aware of the talents of AVANGAR and don’t rule them out off the bat.
Luminosity Vs Team Liquid (Group B)
This game is expected to be an easy win for the North American team as they have performed extremely well this year, and with the return of Twistzz it should turn out to be a comfortable first game for the side. Luminosity have not received much limelight as of late and as a result, have not really showcased what the side can really achieve on LAN. Most predictors are leaning towards a win for Liquid and I would recommend betting according to this as well.
More predictions for the rest of the tournament will be produced as the event continues.