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He’s s1mply the best – What we’ve learned from IEM Cologne 2021

A change of power was imminent with some old names rising through the world rankings once more. Here is what we’ve learned from IEM Cologne 2021.

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The best in the world

You just can’t get around it. Aleksandr ‘S1mple’ Kostyliev is the best player in the world at the moment, dropping a whopping 1.51 HLTV Rating 2.0 throughout the entire event over 14 maps played. It of course comes to no surprise that Natus Vincere was able to win the entire event with Denis ‘Electronic‘ Sharipov and Valeriy ‘B1T’ Vakhovskiy getting 1.23 and 1.22 rating respectively.

With this victory, Na’Vi was able to once more take the number one position in the HLTV World Rankings as they have been close to Gambit’s performance for some time now. Taking the win over the former number one at the StarLadder CIS RMR 2021 already gave a hunch that the team might be able to do it again the event after and S1mple did not disappoint with his team. The team seems to be working together really well at this moment in time, which bodes well for the near future. The big question always remains though: how long can S1mple be dropping crazy numbers before another team is able to find a way to counter his playstyle, only to put Na’Vi in a slump again.

G2 breaks the number three barrier

For quite some events, G2 has been consistently getting the third/fourth position, yet were unable to break through this invisible barrier. This time however, they made it slightly easier for themselves. First taking the victory in Group A, where they were able to take down Gambit in a crazy close match, meant they were able to instantly go into the semi-finals of the single elimination playoff bracket.

This meant they had played some maps, but didn’t give as much research material to their opponent as some other teams might have that battled through the lower bracket of the groups as well. G2 was able to use this time and extra material on their opponents well to take down Astralis in yet another close fought victory. Only Natus Vincere was holding them back from getting the win at Cologne, but getting into the top two might already have been seen as a big step forward and a reward for the effort put in by the team.

The grand final itself was once more an incredibly close series map score wise, despite it being a 3-0 in favour of Na’Vi. The international scene of CS seems to be getting more and more competitive again with other challengers taking their chances at the top, yet always with a big challenge and a possibility to be beaten at every turn.

FaZe is looking up

FaZe started the event being ranked 36 in the world, but after a strong showing with their beloved Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer they were able to fight their way through the lower bracket and into the playoffs. Don’t forget the team also had to qualify for the main tournament via the play-in, which meant it was quite the brutal grind to get into the top six already.

Their first match in the playoffs was against Gambit, the then number one of the world, and they were able to come out guns blazing. Winning the first map, losing the second in overtime but then taking another strong victory meant FaZe shocked the world with their progress. Being upgraded to the sixth place in the world rankings straight after the tournament might give them some more invites again, possibly to flourish once more.

Astralis, the strongest Danes

Of course we can’t go without mentioning Astralis, who were able to get second in Group B after losing out to Na’Vi. Before getting there they were able to take down both FaZe and Heroic with a 2-0 score. Following up the streak of good performance with a win against Virtus Pro in the playoffs meant that the Danes were able to get a top four finish for the first time in quite a while. With the AWP role being more divided amongst the players, they might have found a way to deal with the departure of Nicolai ‘Device’ Reedtz.

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Image Credit: ESL / IEM