Intel Extreme Masters XVI Summer | Key Storylines
The first RMR events are all wrapped up! We have some new stars on the horizon across the globe, some of which will hope in excellent results on IEM XVI Summer! Yep, another grandiose Intel Extreme Masters event is just around the corner and we’re here to give you a proper introduction to some of the most notable IEM XVI Summer teams!
Most Interesting IEM XVI Summer Storylines
We have a handful of teams under the microscope here! A couple of fine specimens that need further analysis coming into this event. We’re talking about the most competitive IEM XVI Summer teams; rosters that are most likely to be crowned as the champions in roughly two weeks. Let’s start digging!
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Obviously, Ninjas in Pyjamas is the team everyone keeps talking about. I honestly thought the initial hype would burn out after Flashpoint, but considering how far NiP has gotten there, and all the drama surrounding their replay vs. Anonymo, it’s understandable that the hype fire is still going strong. And, mind you, the very reason behind the hype was the very reason NiP reached the grand finals against Mousesports in the first place. Ye, Device’s debut event ended better than the management had hoped for. A proper run that almost ended up in a debut title. Unfortunately for the Swedish side, ropz and frozen were having none of it. They were by far the best individuals on the event and having two in-form players almost always guarantees a title run.
Back to NiP; they’ve set the level high on Flashpoint. Now, everything except reaching the semifinals will be a disappointing run for them. Now that they know they have the quality, consistency, and (arguably) map pool depth to square off with the best of them, they will expect more good results. Can they get one on IEM XVI Summer? Well, group B is perfectly set up for them to clinch the playoffs. They’re starting off with OG, a team they haven’t played against thus far in 2021. Last time out, they defeated them on DH Open Fall. 2:0 was the final result, and I expect much of the same this Thursday.
But, as we venture further into the group stage bracket, we have some fiery contestants. Most notably, two Scandinavian teams (Heroic and Fnatic), and two tough contestants from CIS (Virtus.pro and Team Spirit). All four of these teams have the quality needed to take NIP down. The focal point will be the map banning phase and readiness of both sets of players. If Device can transition the form from his debut event, NiP could be one of the most frightening IEM XVI Summer teams.
Vitality is the next team we’re going to be checking out here! The Frenchmen haven’t been at their best in recent months. Heck, they haven’t been at their best since BLAST Premier Fall, if we’re going to be more precise. Vitality did finish 2020 off with a banger, but they failed to transition that form into 2021. And, before you say it, I don’t think ZywOo is the reason. I mean, his form isn’t at the heights of last year, but he’s still by far the best player on this Vitality roster. The problem is, and I’ve emphasized this a couple of times already, the fact that Vitality relies on ZywOo way too much. It worked out for them last year, but it was never going to be a long-term strategy capable of building Vitality’s dynasty.
Unfortunately, that mistake is going to keep on ruining Vitality’s results until they splurge enough money for a decent roster upgrade. And no, Kyojin is not what they need! They need someone with a lot more experience and seeing as they’re not ready to switch to international communication, they have a relatively low pool of players to work with. Don’t get me wrong, Vitality doesn’t need another superstar alongside ZywOo… but they do need someone who can step up in the fragging department when ZywOo’s heat checks don’t work. As I’ve said numerous times already, Vitality has to stop with the “ZywOo will take care of things” attitude. It’s obviously not working; the sooner they’re done with it, the better!
As for their IEM XVI Summer matchups, they’re kicking things off against Complexity on Thursday. They lost the last two h2h matches, one of which was a bo1. It’s going to be an exciting contest, but we have to give ZywOo and the boys the benefit of the doubt here. But, assuming they go through, they’ll most likely face Gambit in the next round… and let’s just say that’s going to be an uphill struggle, in every meaning of that phrase.
We have to say a thing or two about Heroic as well! After all, they are the third-best team in the world right now, according to HLTV. How come? Well, they’re still the most consistent side out there, as simple as that. Heroic ended up without a podium finish on just one event this year, IEM XV World Championship. Apart from that, they lost four semifinal contests and won ESL Pro League Season 13 back in April. A great overall track record, you have to admit! Considering such a splendid run of form, one could argue Heroic are the prime candidates to win the title here. They’re one of the few in-form IEM XVI Summer teams, their map pool is on point, and they have an exceptional all-around roster that can go up against the best of them.
Plus, they’re going up against the biggest underdogs in the opening round. Poor Imperial Esports are set to play against Heroic – I expect nothing but a sleek 2:0 win for the Danes. Team Spirit, assuming they overcome EG in the opener, will be a much tougher nut to crack. I can’t wait to see these boys in action!
Virtus.pro and Gambit were always shadowed by NaVi’s dominance in CIS. But, those days are long gone! Gambit and Virtus.pro are now fully-fledged contestants, not just in their own region but on the international stage as well. Together with NaVi, the wicked CIS trio are leading the CSGO esports revolution. CIS is miles ahead of NA; some might even argue they’ve surpassed EU too. But, one bad event and it’s all over. Could IEM XVI Summer prove to be the event that pushes CIS teams down a notch? Well, it most certainly won’t push them behind NA, seeing as Team Liquid seems as the only notable team from across the pond.
However, European teams will want to assert dominance, and it’s up to Virtus.pro, Gambit, and Team Spirit to stand their ground. Remember, NaVi is not participating on this event… but that doesn’t mean the above-mentioned trio will go down without a fight. Do you remember the good old NA vs. EU rivalry; do you remember ECS events? Well, those days are long gone – it’s all about EU vs. CIS now… and I for one don’t mind.
Of course, we can’t forget the No. 1 CSGO team in the world right now, Gambit! Yessir, clutch-friendly Russians are still at the top of the world, and at the top of their game! Sh1ro, Ax1Le, and the boys are looking frightening out there, taking no prisoners and easily clutching key rounds even against some of the strongest teams in the world! Their current track record is absolutely amazing and the very reason they are ranked as the best CSGO team right now! They have just FIVE losses in the last thirty-five matches. Yep, JUST FIVE LOSSES! And yeah, some of those matches were against lowly CIS sides, but that doesn’t dimmish their overall quality. Massive sculps against the likes of Virtus.pro, Astralis, G2, NaVi, NiP, and Heroic are there too. Gambit’s recent track record is a mix and mash of everything, with wins being the focal point.
Gambit’s triumphant EPIC CIS League Spring resulted in a thrilling 3:1 win against Virtus.pro. Such an important win will definitely push winds of victory into their sails coming into this event. They’re going up against Sprout in round one, and I think we can all agree there’s only one winner in that one. But, if we start calculating second-round scenarios, Gambit are likely to go up against Vitality, a team they are yet to play against. That’s going to be an epic encounter, assuming both teams win the openers, that is.
Oh, what a match NiP vs. G2 was. The lower bracket final showcased both teams’ strengths and sheer fragging potential. We had the privilege of watching three exciting maps with the third one going all the way to the thirtieth round. In the end, Device and the boys managed to close things out in what was one heck of a fiery Dust 2 brawl, thus avenging the third-round loss earlier in the bracket. We’d be silly to think this loss is going to faze G2 going forward. Nope, that it surely won’t! NiKo and the boys are finally getting some steam going, and I reckon I’m not the only one noticing that. G2’s roster has a ton of fragging potential. If everyone is on level terms and in fine form, not a lot of teams can stop them!
That said, there’s no way Extra Salt get the better of NiKo and the boys in the first round. Even though JaCkz still seems to be struggling, the rest of the team is in fine form and that should be enough to take care of the NA nuisance. However, the second round will most likely feature their old pals from Astralis. Truth be told, though, there’s no Device… but still, it should make for a fine match!
Last but not least, Astralis. Ever since Device’s departure, Astralis’ overall importance in the grand scheme of CSGO esports has fallen down. Significantly, for that matter! While Astralis’ key asset was their entire collective, be it a five-man, six-man, or seven-man roster, the lack of a world-class player-like Device is something they won’t be able to solve ASAP. Truth be told, though, Bubzkji’s performances have been rock solid, but Astralis as a whole lack that special flair they used to have when Device was still in the starting lineup. But, I guess all good things come to an end – Astralis’ triumphant roster will forever be etched in CSGO history books.
But, the Danish side has to turn a new page and focus on things to come! They still have a highly competitive roster, they still have their collective, and their team cohesion didn’t take a big blow… at least not as big as we all predicted. Astralis’ performances on DreamHack Masters Spring and Flashpoint Season 3 promise better things to come. We’re not talking about exceptional gameplay by any means, but their gameplay is far from the mess I expected to see. That said, I honestly think Astralis could go far here… if they pass the test a la FPX with flying marks. They’ll go up against the better of G2 vs. Extra Salt in the second round, which promises to be an exceptional match. Yep, Group A is packed with excitement, featuring a ton of world-class IEM XVI Summer teams!
Don’t Miss Out!
Intel Extreme Masters XVI Summer kicks off this Thursday so make sure you don’t miss out on the action. The first round starts at noon CEST, but the remaining opening-day matches will be more suitable to CSGO fans based in US time zones.
That’d be all for today, folks!