By Pavo Jurkic
November 6, 2019
The next Intel Extreme Masters event starts in less than 24 hours and boy do we have a ton of stuff to talk about in this IEM XIV Beijing preview.
For starters, this is the third and final IEM stop this season, with the IEM World Championship in Katowice scheduled for late February 2020.
Eight teams will test their worth in Beijing, battling for their share of $250,000 in prize money, and potentially snatching a direct invitation for the 2020 spectacle in Poland.
Knowing the charm of previous IEM iterations, there’s no doubt in my mind IEM XIV Beijing will fail to deliver. The broadcasting talent is top-notch, the participating teams are eager to kick things off, and I’m sure thousands of fans in the venue ought to drum up the atmosphere.
Here’s a quick look at the prize pool distribution. Remember, in addition to the $125,000 in prize money, the winning team also gets a direct invitation to the upcoming IEM World Championship in Katowice.
|3rd – 4th||$25,000|
|5th – 6th||$8,500|
|7th – 8th||$4,000|
We’re approaching the end of our IEM XIV Beijing Preview. However, we still haven’t discussed any of the participating teams. And, by looking at the list, several interesting storylines are coming into this event.
That’s why, in this section of our IEM XIV Beijing Preview, we’ll take a closer look at the four most exciting teams ready to leave their mark in China.
FaZe Clan surprised everyone with a spectacular performance in Copenhagen. Not only have they played brilliantly in the group stage, dropping just one map to Team Liquid, but they’ve also finished the event with style, beating NiP in a thrilling Bo3 grand finale.
However, four bo1 wins alongside a single Bo3 triumph don’t necessarily mean FaZe Clan will start dominating the CSGO scene. Yes, Broky and Coldzera, alongside consistently great NiKo, have formed a wicked fragging triangle in FaZe’s starting roster, one that could cause havoc in Beijing.
While I do believe the future holds great things for this FaZe Clan roster, I think the hype train started way too soon. Bo1 wins against NaVi and Astralis are promising, but it will take much more than that to get back to the top of the CSGO food chain.
For starters, FaZe Clan players must ensure their winning form doesn’t slip away in Beijing and it’s going to be extra tricky since we’re talking about Bo3 (Bo5 grand finale) matchups that ought to get the best of FaZe Clan’s map pool depth. And let’s say it hasn’t been ideal in the last few months.
18-year-old Broky still seems to be struggling, but things can only get better with Coldzera as the tutor. And don’t even get me started on cold’s performance for FaZe. Not only was he the stone-cold killer against Astralis, but he was among the best FaZe players in Copenhagen.
If the Brazilian superstar keeps up the great job, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see FaZe Clan in the grand finals once again. However, this time around, a Bo5 against potentially Astralis or Evil Geniuses will prove to be a much more difficult challenge than NiP.
Now, Astralis is the second-best team in the world, right behind in-form Evil Geniuses. No worries, Evil Geniuses team overview is coming right after this one. The Great Danes, despite recent struggles, are still a force to be reckoned with in the CSGO sphere. They had their ups and downs, but the Beijing IEM spectacle ought to be the next big trophy in The Great Danes’ cabinet!
So, what is there to say about Astralis? Quadruple CSGO Major winners, three consecutive titles, and an overall solid form is what makes them a tough team to play against no matter the occasion. They’re the favorites in group A and should cruise through to the semifinals with a 2-0 score.
However, going to the grand finals won’t be so easy, especially considering their poor performance in Copenhagen. A quick reminder – FaZe defeated them 16-2 on Inferno, and NiP defeated them 16-7 on Overpass. Their round 4 match against NaVi ended in a draw, but Astralis got back at S1mple, and the boys with a spectacular Pro Standoff win later.
Overall, Astralis is the team to beat in group A. If they successfully pass the first test against the crowd favorites, Vici Gaming, I’d be shocked if Astralis go home before the grand finals.
If there’s one team that can take down Astralis is a Bo5, it Evil Geniuses. At the moment, they’re at the top of the food chain, a new name after more than a year of Astralis and Team Liquid dominance. This ex-NRG squad is finally hitting true potential. With Stanislaw as the IGL, Evil Geniuses are stringing together impressive campaigns.
They conquered ESL One New York just three days after Stanislaw joined the roster. Talk about fast synchronization, huh? Fast forward a month, and they won StarSeries Season 8, with impressive displays against the likes of Fnatic, FURIA, and Renegades (100 Thieves).
Of course, many fans are doubting Evil Geniuses’ form, saying it’s a short-term thing. People are claiming it’s not stanislaw’s IGLing but a good bit of luck following EG in their stride. However, I find that to be absurd. If we’re looking at their SS S8 performance, then I can understand (to a certain degree) where such statements are coming from. However, if we take their StarLadder Major performance and everything afterward into account, we’ll come to understand the complexity of EG’s success.
They evolved into a highly dynamic team that controls the gameplay. They have solid dueling ability and play well off against each other, a crucial combination that many teams don’t know how to counter. The only downside is their poor run of form on Train, something they’ll have to work on if they want to conquer Beijing.
Lastly, we have the newly signed Renegades roster that now goes by the familiar name in the esports industry – 100 Thieves. Yep, 100T bought Renegades’ roster, and they’re ready to start a new era with a team packing a ton of talent.
For those of you not in the know, Renegades (100 Thieves from now on) can boast with an exceptional StarLadder Major Berlin performance where they reached to the semifinals. Jks and jkaem are still in great form, carrying it from Berlin and hoping it will help them get through the group stage.
And they’ll need it, that’s for sure! 100T are in group A with Astralis, ENCE, and Vici Gaming. The latter shouldn’t be an issue, Astralis should be out of their reach, and the opening match against ENCE has all the makings of a proper thriller. It’s the rerun of StarLadder Major quarterfinals. A quick reminder – 100 Thieves, then Renegades, earned a surprising win and reached their first-ever CSGO Major Championship semifinal.
If 100T wins their opening Bo3 against ENCE, I believe they’ll get the much-needed confidence to win the decider match, with the assumption they lose against Astralis in the winners’ round. Jks, jkaem and the boys need a solid result to kick things off with the new org and qualifying for the semifinals would be a proper starting point, that’s for sure!
Our IEM XIV Beijing Preview is almost done. There’s just one more thing we need to cover – event schedule! As mentioned earlier, IEM XIV Beijing group stage features the popular double-elimination format, which means we only know the two opening matches from each of the two groups.