ICE Challenge is set to get underway in London, England.
ICE Challenge is set to get underway in London, England. Read on as we break down the format, the teams, and the odds for the tournament.
ICE Challenge is organized in co-production by Maincast and Clarion Gaming. Eight teams have gathered in London, England hoping to start off the year with a win.
Last year, North defeated Natus Vincere in the final at this event. The competition has now been extended to include four more teams, and the prize pool has been increased to $250,000.
Naturally, there have been some changes made to the format as well. ICE Challenge will now feature two double-elimination (GSL) groups. There will be no way to fluke your way through, as all of the matches are best-of-three in the group stage. The winner of the group will be advancing straight to the semi-finals, while the teams finishing in second and third will have to start the playoffs in the quarter-finals.
The playoffs will feature a single-elimination, best-of-three bracket with a best-of-five grand final.
The groups are as follows:
ICE Challenge 2020 kicks off February 1 and runs through February 6.
All stats shown are from LAN and with the current rosters.
Heroic are coming off a 3rd-4th place finish at DreamHack Open Leipzig. They were able to defeat both North and Sprout in groups, but later fell to the eventual winners, BIG, in the semi-finals. The likes of es3tag and cadiaN had a solid tournament, but they are going to need stavn to return to form if they wish to make a deep run this weekend in London.
Just like Heroic, MAD Lions had to settle for a 3rd-4th finish at DreamHack Open Leipzig. They won their group after convincing wins against Heroic and North, but were eventually bested by Renegades 2–1 in the semi-final. However, I personally don’t see this as too big of a failure. They lost Dust2 to Renegades, a map which is quite volatile in nature, as well as Nuke which Renegades have proven to be very strong on historically.
This will be mousesports’ first tournament of the year. They had an excellent end to 2019, winning the CS:GO Asia Championship, ESL Pro League Finals and cs_summit 4 before heading over to a stacked EPICENTER where they finished in second place. We have seen plenty of teams lose some momentum after a lengthy break, so it will be interesting to see how they perform at this event. One thing is for certain, mousesports are deserved favorites after the form that they showed at the end of last year.
Virtus.pro had an incredibly disappointing showing at DreamHack Leipzig, bombing out of groups after losses to BIG and Cloud9. I recommended fading Virtus.pro in my preview for the event, and for good reason. They are a very inconsistent team, and they have really struggled after their win at BLAST Pro Series Moscow back in September of last year. They rely heavily on Jame to get things done for them, and when he doesn’t, they tend to struggle like they did last week in Leipzig.
ENCE have quickly gone from one of the most beloved teams to one of the most hated teams after kicking Aleksib last year. This tournament will be particularly interesting since they will be facing off against Aleksib’s OG in the opener for the first time. ENCE have looked incredibly poor ever since Aleksib was kicked from the roster, and allu’s in-game leading has been questioned. The positive part for ENCE is that suNny is starting to look a bit better, and he had a lot of impact for his team at the Champions Cup Finals in December.
The European side previously known as NoChance were picked up by GODSENT back in September. They had a good start with their new organization, winning WePlay! Forge of Masters after taking down the current MAD Lions roster in the finals. They were later invited to DreamHack Open Winter and Sevilla, but they were unable to get past the semis at both of these tournaments. GODSENT are coming in as big underdogs here at odds of 25.00, but they should not be underestimated. This team has been together for a while now, and they appear to have quite solid teamwork and chemistry. STYKO is someone who has completely turned things around and is starting to show people have good he can be mechanically. Maden is also a very interesting rifler coming out of Serbia, who is putting up great numbers despite playing a very aggressive style.
Natus Vincere have decided to replace GuardiaN after a string of poor results. The Slovak never really looked comfortable playing for NaVi, so it was not surprising to see him removed from the team. In comes Perfecto, a pure rifler who has spent most of his time playing for Syman gaming. The Russian is a rather defensive player, who is very solid with SMGs in particular. My guess is that Boombl4 will remain as one of the more dedicated entry-fraggers, while Perfecto will be in more of a defensive, supportive role. This means that s1mple will also move back to the AWP full-time, which is an exciting prospect moving forward.
This will be OG’s first event of the year. So far, they have only participated at cs_summit 4, where they went out in the semi-finals. They had a decent showing overall, winning against MIBR and taking maps against both G2 and mousesports. There are still question marks about the overall firepower on this team, but it was good to see a player like mantuu perform as good as he did at considering how little experience he has at this level.
This tournament has a format similar to many of ESL’s biggest tournaments such as ESL One Cologne. There are no BO1s to be found here, which should ensure that the best teams come out on top. As such, there is not as much room for an underdog to make a deep run here.
However, I think that GODSENT are somewhat underrated compared to some of the other teams here. I think that they are capable of stealing a map or even causing an upset in group play. They play NaVi in the opener, a team that tends to start slow. I would be tempted to take the handicap in that match. If they lose, you will likely get a decent number on them in the lower-bracket against ENCE or OG as well.