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Gambit Esports csgo
Gambit Esports

One of the biggest events of the Counter-Strike calendar is just around the corner, with IEM Cologne kicking off on July 6.

The event is an especially significant one in 2021, as it is the first “elite” event returning to a LAN environment. IEM Cologne has historically been one of the biggest events in CS:GO, so even though there won’t be a crowd in the stadium, it’ll still be a massive step up from online tournaments.

However, that’s not the only significant thing about IEM Cologne. It’s also part of the ESL Pro Tour, as well as the Blast circuit, meaning there are competitive circuit points up for grabs for both of those circuits. Between the significance of the event, the points and a whopping $1-million prize pool, the pressure will be on for the players and it should be an absolute blast.

Make sure to check out our guide on How to bet on cS:GO and let’s take a look at the event in more detail.

Who’s Playing at IEM Cologne?

IEM Cologne is one of the bigger CS:GO events and is set to feature a total of 24 teams. Each team earned their spot through a variety of ways, including securing points from tournament results, winning a regional competition or placing well in the ESL world ranking.

This means we’ll only see the best of the best at IEM Cologne, with Gambit headlining the event as favorites, while strong competitors like Natus Vincere, Heroic, Virtus.pro, G2 and Astralis are all coming, as well as many more. To add to that, it’s also an international event, meaning we’ll see North and South American teams, as well as a splash of the best from both Oceania and Asia.

How IEM Cologne Works

When it comes to the event itself, it’s split into two sections: the play-in and the main event. The top eight teams are seeded directly to the main event, while the remaining 16 face off in the play-in.

The play-in is a mini-tournament of sorts where teams face off in a double-elimination bracket. Only eight teams will advance from the play-in to the main event, where the majority of cash and circuit points are on the line.

Meanwhile, the main event is played in a more standard format. The 16 teams are split into two groups, which are again played in double elimination. Then, three from each group advance to the playoffs, with the first-placed teams from each group heading straight to the semifinals, while second and third are placed in the quarters. The playoffs are then played in a single-elimination format.

Odds to Win IEM Cologne
Team Odds
Gambit +250
Na’Vi +300
Heroic +350
G2 +600
Virtus.pro +600
Astralis +800
Mousesports +800
Vitality +1000
BIG +1200
OG +1500
NiP +1600
Furia +1800
Liquid +2000
Complexity +2500
Spirit +2500
Evil Geniuses +2700
Faze +3200
MiBR +4000
Sprout +4000
Renegades +4000
TeamOne +6600
Bad News Bears +10000
LDLC +25000
ViCi +25000

Odds as of June 21 at Betway

Can Gambit do it on LAN?

Gambit enters IEM Cologne as by far the hottest team of 2021. They’ve won eight big tournaments so far this year and placed second in the two others that they didn’t win. They honestly look unstoppable and are well on the way to securing themselves a spot as one of the best CS:GO squads ever.

However, one challenge they have yet to face is playing offline in a LAN environment. So far, all of the tournaments they have played have been online, with the players playing from the comfort of their home or team office.

IEM Cologne is set to be played at the Cologne studio, with a full LAN being set up. This means no more comfortable, familiar setups, and for some of the young players, it will be a whole new experience. This event will likely show us what Gambit is made of and will be a key stepping stone to see if they can continue to dominate, or if they simply benefited from an online era.

NaVi Seeks Revenge

Natus Vincere will be out for revenge at IEM Cologne, having lived in the shadow of regional rival Gambit for the entirety of the year.

So far, the two teams have played at multiple events together and Gambit has come out ahead four of five times, which includes winning three events. Na’Vi did manage to overcome them once at DreamHack in May, but Gambit quickly returned the favor, winning two events in a row since while eliminating Na’Vi.

Going into Cologne, the second-ranked team in the world will have a slight advantage. Their players are all very experienced and used to a LAN environment, while it’ll be something for Gambit to get used to. If there was ever another chance for Natus Vincere to get one over their rivals, this would be it.

What Can We Expect From The Underdogs?

With such a large event, there are a lot of underdogs, and even a mystery team or two. The likes of Heroic, G2 and Virtus.pro are the obvious teams to look at: they see relatively high odds and have been able to overcome the best and win events before.

However, there are also other squads that come in with a bit of an unknown factor. We have teams like MiBR, Spirit and Liquid that come from regions outside the “central” world of Counter-Strike (aka Europe). All of these have been out of the spotlight for some time, but still have the players and experience to pull off an upset.

Then, there are the real mystery teams: Renegades and ViCi. They come from Oceania and Asia, respectively, and to the majority of CS:GO fans and players are an unknown force. With Covid locking down events, they’ve been confined to their regions for some time, and it’ll be interesting to see what they can bring.

Renegades did recently play in Europe and did somewhat disappoint, but they’ve had time to regroup and refocus their efforts. ViCi, meanwhile, hasn’t played an official match outside of Asia for over two years, so they come in as a very unknown element for every other team at IEM Cologne.

Overall, there are a ton of interesting underdogs, and while only a few realistically have a chance to win the event, I wouldn’t put it past the likes of Renegades and ViCi to sneak away a series or two from some of the bigger teams.