The Semifinals matches of IEM XVI Cologne are over and the favorites won in both cases. Let’s see how they did it and then take a look at the Grand Final.
First Semifinal: Astralis versus G2 Esports
After beating Virtus.pro, Astralis entered this match as a strong underdog. People still expected G2 to win, but everyone knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And that proved to be correct. The French squad needed 3 maps to end the battle and came very close to losing. It was only in the last 3 rounds of the 3rd map that they managed to regain control and win with 16 – 14.
Astralis’ biggest mistake in this match was their map pick. For some reason, they thought that playing on Nuke would be a good idea against G2. After all, they used to be unbeatable on this map and were optimistic that they could win it, not least because G2 had a win rate of just 50% on it. But as it turned out, G2 anticipated this move by Astralis and probably spent the last few days training on Nuke. In many ways it was obvious. The Danes felt that it was a comfort pick for them and an unpleasant battleground for their opponent. So G2 left Nuke unbanned and waited for Astralis to walk into their trap.
Having a 1 – 0 lead and winning on their opponent’s map pick, G2 was expected to finish the match in just two maps. But on Dust II, Astralis hit back and won. The third map was Inferno, where both teams excelled. The feeling was that Astralis would come out the winner. But G2’s superior cohesion proved to be decisive during the clutch rounds.
Second Semifinal: FaZe Clan versus Natus Vincere
After eliminating Gambit, FaZe looked fully capable of also beating Na’Vi. But unfortunately for olofmeister and his squad, s1mple was godlike on matchday. His 2.0 rating was 2.01 on the first map and 1.56 on the second map. These numbers are absolutely unbelievable. The Ukrainian player got a total of 52 kills during the match. So it’s not a big surprise that FaZe managed to win just 7 rounds on each map.
IEM XVI Cologne Grand Final Prediction
Na’Vi and G2 met each other 3 times in 2021. All 3 matches were won by Natus Vincere. When we combine this fact with the team’s performance in the Group Stage and Semifinals of the tournament, I think it’s hard to not regard the CIS squad as the favorite.
s1mple totally deserves this title and I don’t think that NiKo can steal it from him. His team has demonstrated great skill during the tournament, but Na’Vi still looks considerably stronger. If s1mple plays as well as he did against FaZe, this battle will end very quickly. Luckily for us all, the match will be Bo5, so we’ll get to see the full range of skills of both sides.
In matches like this, a lot is determined by map versatility. The team that’s comfortable on more maps has the advantage. Usually, CS:GO matches are either Bo1 or Bo3. So very few teams prepare on every map. One of the map pool options tends to be discarded from the start and from the remaining ones, a team will master 3 or 4 maps. We already know that Na’Vi will most likely ban Vertigo while G2 will probably ban Overpass.
Mirage and Inferno will be highly contested, because both teams play them well. But on every other map, Na’Vi seems to have the advantage. My prediction is that s1mple’s team will win this match with a score of 3 – 1.
Photo credit: IEM|Simon-Howar