On Friday, the Intel Extreme Masters are bound to continue. After several days of break, the teams are entering the server again, trying to secure the IEM Summer trophy for themselves.
In a tense and exciting Group Stage, we have already had to wave goodbye to the likes of Heroic, FunPlus Phoenix, and Complexity. Even Astralis exited in the Lower Bracket after just one match victory. The Ninjas in Pyjamas failed at the last step. So the playoffs are going to feature quite a few surprise contestants.
EG, GAMBIT, VITALITY, VP IN THE QUARTER FINALS
Few people would have predicted that Evil Geniuses and Vitality could be playoffs contestants at IEM. After teams like Heroic and Astralis exited way too early, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut’s and Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz’ troops even made it all the way into the Upper Bracket Finals. While they eventually lost there, they still secured spots in the Quarter Finals. They’ll be facing the winners of the Lower Bracket Finals.
THIS IS THE #IEM SUMMER PLAYOFFS! 🌴
See you then! 👋 pic.twitter.com/Iv3QhsnxJx
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) June 6, 2021
Just a few months ago, Gambit and VP stood in the Grand Finals of IEM Katowice. Virtus.pro then quickly descended in the rankings again are are still miles away from the performance that netted them a second-place finish back then. Gambit managed to retain their top spot for a lot longer, even proving that they could consistently finish over the likes of Heroic. But recently, they showed weakness in the CIS RMR event. At IEM, they also failed to contend with Vitality. It’s obvious that they have the higher chances against Evil Geniuses on paper. But stanislaw and his men are very much unpredictable right now.
After an embarrassing exit during the cs_summit RMR tournament, at which they almost exclusively faced lower North American opposition, they have experienced a massive jump in performance. Disregarding of whether they can compete with Gambit, this is already an impressive achievement. It also goes to show that the signing of Michał “MICHU” Müller wasn’t a mistake at all. Now, the team obviously still looks to place ahead of Gambit. Their biggest advantage is that there’s only limited information on this new lineup. However, it stands to question whether that is actually enough to succeed over Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov, Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov, and their insane firepower.
The same holds true for Vitality. After Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van had initially failed to elevate the roster, they’re finally back on track. Their upset victory over Gambit was more than just promising, but Virtus.pro won’t make the mistake of underestimating them. Now that Kyojin has managed to put up a positive rating for this event, the Frenchmen are finally playing with what feels like a full five-man roster.
OG AND G2 ARE WAITING IN THE SEMI FINALS
The biggest surprise so far at IEM has to be the OG boys. After they had to fight for months on end to hold a bootcamp, they have finally gotten together. This immediately showed in their results. For weeks now, they have experienced an upward trend. At IEM Summer, this has brought them all the way to the top of the Group Stage. With the exception of Heroic, they have been every single favorite of Group B, so their performance looks less like an upset and more like a genuine improvement.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) June 9, 2021
So far, Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski and Shahar “flameZ” Shushan have held themselves at the top with 1.41 and 1.37 ratings, respectively. ZywOo has been the only one to trump this, but we should be used to that by now. For the OG frontrunners, their performance jump couldn’t have come at a better time. This gives them a decent chance against Vitality and Virtus.pro. Should they face off with Dzhami “Jame” Ali and his men again, they will need all the firepower they can get. Going up against Vitality and ZywOo in particular, they absolutely have to put up a fantastic show to succeed.
On the other side of the bracket, G2 don’t really have it any easier. Even though they’re now in the playoffs of a big event for the fourth time in a row, they have not secured any tournament victory. At every single event, there’s a team that can still bet them. At IEM Summer, however, they might finally be able to break that curse. After all, they managed to surpass every team in Group A. On top of that, their biggest rivals of past events aren’t there anymore, except for Gambit Esports. With just a pinch of luck, they might not even have to face sh1ro and his men. They should still not underestimate Evil Geniuses, especially if they manage to beat Gambit beforehand.
So the last three days of playoffs are sure to deliver exciting action. Even if the surprise winners from the Group Stage falter now, they have still achieved a lot and have closed the distance to the top teams considerably. But should they play on the same level as they did just a week ago, we might even see OG, EG, or Vitality in the Grand Finals!