Team Liquid have been on a tear recently and few other teams looked capable of taking down the esports Avengers. With a smaller field compared to Cologne (eight instead of 16) and some notable absentees (Astralis, Na'Vi, NRG) IEM Chicago had less weight than some of the bigger events on the calendar but still has an important story to tell.
Team Liquid are a major win away from becoming the undisputed greatest North American CS:GO lineup of all time, and the team's winning streak in grand finals continues with a dominant 3-0 over rival ENCE. Ence has unfortunately fallen off from their lofty peak they hit at BLAST Pro Series Madrid 2019 and were unable to mount any resistance on their signature maps in the grand finals. Team Liquid's addition of Jake "Stewie2k" Yip has given the North American side an aggressive T side and winning map counts on the six maps they play regularly (perma ban is Train).
Liquid have shown little to no weaknesses, and very few teams have been able to take off maps from the NA squad besides G2 Esports. Will Liquid be able to retain their hot form going into the StarLadder Berlin Major? Only time will tell.
Yes, MIBR have had a myriad of roster issues and played IEM Chicago with coach Wilton "zews" Prado, but the team was able to surprise by placing 3rd-4th losing 1-2 to ENCE in the semifinals. Taking a map off a top five team in the playoffs has to be a win for a team who has not had a lot going for them recently and are facing dire straits come Berlin.
MIBR's b03 win over Team Envy comes with an asterisk as the Envy coach had to fill in for star player Noah "Nifty" Francis, but a solid b03 win over a top 10 team in G2 Esports improves the MIBR resume as the Brazilian squad looks to reassert their dominance both regionally and internationally. Will Gabriel "Fallen" Toledo and the rest of MIBR be able to get a solid gameplan for the major and beyond? Hopefully, the pieces will make sense for everyone involved.
Photo Credit: Jamie Wert
ESL went from the lows of Season 4 Pro league finals where the company was widely panned for choice of venue and had an all-time low in the minds of consumers. Today, the company has shown the ability to be the lone tournament organizer able to produce top tier events on all fronts, and has been able to dominate the CS:GO scene's discourse via the Intel Grand Slam $ 1,000,000 prize pool.
IEM Chicago much like Sydney is an eight team tournament, but still continues some of the storylines that the Intel Grand Slam circuit has been able to craft via the Grand Slam seasons. Season 2 saw Team Liquid steamroll it in the bare minimum amount of events so ESL/Intel were forced to make it even harder to take home the big check for Season 3. Hopefully ESL continues to innovate as other tournament organizers such as BLAST try to bribe their way into the scene and other organizers such as Epicenter see their amount of events hosted decrease due to oversaturation in the scene.
Where there are winners there are losers, and a lot of teams did not inspire confidence after their shaky IEM Chicago performances.
Despite a good start to Chicago with a 2-0 over MIBR, G2 Esports were unable to escape groups after a tough three map loss to Team Liquid and could not overcome MIBR for a second time to place 5th-6th. While G2 Esports have been trending in the right direction the past few months, the team underperformed when it mattered and are still in a developmental phase.
G2 Esports needs to work their kinks out for the upcoming major, and Chicago was not an encouraging sign for the French side. G2 Esports seemed to fall apart under pressure as they blew a large lead to Team Liquid and were unable to beat MIBR when it counted. G2 Esports will be facing a stacked Major field and need to become the top team they have shown the potential for in the past.
Vitality are the second or third best team in the world (depending on who you ask), but the team went missing yet again against Team Liquid. Somewhat reminiscent of Team Liquid in the past, Vitality have been unable to challenge Liquid largely because they play similar maps and Vitality does not have the firepower to contend with the NA juggernauts.
Matthieu "ZywOo" Herbaut cannot be expected to the carry the load alone against the best team of 2019 and Vitality cannot afford to make roster changes and ruin the chemistry they have carefully crafted. Vitality will need better performances from their veteran players if they want to contend with their main "rival" even though it is an extremely one sided rivalry.
Photo Credit: Jamie Wert
The Australian team saw a brief period where they looked to be a legitimate top 10 squad, but after VISA issues with AWPer Sean "Gratisfaction" Kawaii the team has not looked the same on LAN. Renegades went 0-4 in map count at Chicago against ENCE and Heroic respectively leading to a lowly 7th-8th placing. It unfortunately looks as if Renegades hit their peak in early 2019 and are headed toward the irrelevant bin until the team either has a big come to Jesus moment or makes a roster change that revitalizes the team.
Renegades was an extremely fun team to watch, but this current version has been a nightmare. Hopefully, the Aussies will figure things out before Berlin so their fans can find something to cheer about.
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