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Has G2 Esports sharpened their knife? – IEM Cologne 2021 Playoffs preview

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Recently we took a look at who was expected to make it out of groups and to no surprise Gambit and Natus Vincere were able to get through.

Gambit did struggle to get that first seed out of the group though and are joined in the playoffs by yet a third CIS team. Will this mean CIS will reign supreme again? This time around however, one of the challengers in the form of G2 Esports was able to take them down for the shortcut into the semi-finals of the playoffs at IEM Cologne 2021. Is the end of a dominant Gambit, and with that CIS region, near? Or will they bounce back in the following bracket system?

Tough challenges ahead

Gambit will first have to face off against FaZe Clan, a team that has struggled for some time to find a stable five man roster. This time they have once more pulled Olof ‘Olofmeister’ Kajbjer out of retirement to at least have a fighting chance. The number 36 in the world was able to already make it into the playoff bracket, which is a feat on its own.

Of course it also has to be mentioned that FaZe came all the way from the play-in stage, as their current ranking was insufficient to get a direct invite to the main tournament. It seems as if everything is coming together, yet an opponent like Gambit might still be a bit too much of a challenge.

The winner between Gambit and FaZe will be having to take on Natus Vincere, as they topped Group B. Na’Vi is currently the strongest team of the tournament, with a collective team rating of 1.21 over nine played maps, but the scariest performance comes out of none other then Aleksandr ‘S1mple’ Kostyliev with a 1.52 rating over said maps. He’s already been known to be a crazy good player, but this time around he seems to be really finding his groove again and wants to top the world once more with his team. If Gambit would be the one to take down FaZe, their run might end against Na’Vi… .

Another CIS chance

CIS is on a high, that we already know from the past few months. Virtus Pro once more was able to step up to the plate and smash their way into the playoffs. The fight wasn’t easy though, first being kicked from the groups upper bracket by BIG in a 2-0 series, only to take them down for the all deciding match with a 2-0 themselves. That last series went into overtime on both maps, showing improvement on the Virtus Pro side, yet also a chance that they might struggle early on against a team before learning.

Virtus Pro will have to face of against Astralis, who were taken down by Na’Vi in the battle for the Group B victory. Astralis is still to recover from the departure of their beloved Nicolai ‘Device’ Reedtz and haven’t really done all too well in recent tournaments. This might mean Virtus Pro stands a chance to make it into the semi-finals, only to face G2 Esports.

G2 Esports was of course expected to make it out of groups, but not really to instantly beat Gambit to the number one spot. Their consistent run of third/fourth place finishes is already secured, but they want to make it to the top this time around. Momentum seems to be favouring them, as well as their part of the bracket. Virtus Pro and Astralis both seem to be statistically weaker opponents than Gambit, FaZe or Na’Vi.

A spot in the grand final seems probable, yet the victory is something they will have to fight for. Often losing out to CIS teams in the previous events does not bode that well when trying to predict an outcome, yet it seems that G2 has learned and is turning the tides in this event. A big title has been looming for some time, maybe IEM Cologne 2021 will be theirs for the taking.

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