IEM Cologne 2021 - Preview
IEM Cologne 2021 - Preview

The main event is about to get underway! We break down the groups and the first round matchups in our preview of IEM Cologne 2021.

Freelance Esports Writer
8th Jul, 21·☕️ 7 min read

The main event is about to get underway! We break down the groups and the first round matchups in our preview of IEM Cologne 2021.

Competition Information

The play-in stage have concluded after two days of hard-fought battles. The eight teams who have qualified for the main event include plenty of heavy hitters, with most of the favourites making it through. 

The only underdog to make it through was the Renegades, who beat out OG for a spot. The bookies certainly didn’t favour the Oceanic side, having them at 45.5% implied probability of qualification, but with an improved map pool and a manageable bracket, the boys made it through.  These are the teams and first-round matchups for the main event:

Group A

  • 🇷🇺 Gambit
  • 🇪🇺 mousesports
  • 🇺🇸 Liquid
  • 🇸🇪 NiP
  • 🇰🇿
  • 🇩🇪 BIG
  • 🇪🇺 G2
  • 🇪🇺 Complexity

Easily the toughest of the two groups, in my opinion. Six out of the eight teams are all featured in HLTV’s Top 10 for the month, and Complexity and Liquid are no joke either. Unlike Group B, most of these teams are either reasonably stable/consistent or on the rise. This one is difficult to call, and it is a real shame that this field of teams will be slashed in half come playoff time. 


Gambit, NiP, BIG/Complexity

Gambit are just too good of team to bet against at this point and NiP are looking strong with device, which is why I’d take them to advance here. The final spot is entirely up for grabs.

I am actually going to go against the grain here and say that BIG and Complexity have a solid shot at making the playoffs over the higher ranked teams and G2. We have seen struggle somewhat so they aren’t coming into this event in great form, and their track record against G2, BIG and coL isn’t great. In fact, they have a losing record in H2H against all three teams in recent time.

I think G2 have a higher chance of making playoffs, but they could easily fall to Complexity in the opening match. Perhaps NiKo could be a difference maker, but before his addition, this was always a tough matchup for the G2 side. I think both Complexity and BIG have a serious shot at advancing here as underdogs. Gun to my head? BIG.

Group B

  • 🇷🇺 NaVi
  • 🇦🇺 Renegades
  • 🇧🇷 FURIA
  • 🇫🇷 Vitality
  • 🇩🇰 Astralis
  • 🇪🇺 FaZe
  • 🇩🇰 Heroic
  • 🇷🇺 Spirit


NaVi, FURIA, Heroic 

This group is weaker on paper with plenty of teams struggling for form or having shown signs of inconsistency. NaVi are clear favourites after a brilliant run of form with s1mple looking his usual dominant self. The addition of B1T has definitely improved their firepower, and they really shouldn’t have any issues making playoffs in this group. 

The last two teams are much more difficult to predict. Vitality had no issues making it through the play-in stage, but I still do not fully trust this team. I am going to go out on a limb and say that FURIA are a live underdog against them. They swept them at DreamHack Spring in May and their recent H2H record against FaZe and Astralis is very good, which gives them a good chance at making it through if they were to get knocked down into the lower-bracket at some point.

The Current Season

NiP (1.67) vs. Liquid (2.17)

It has been a while since we saw Liquid in action and these teams haven’t faced off against each at all with these lineups. NiP and Liquid have similar map pools, with the exception that NiP have taken a liking to Ancient since its addition to the pool. Liquid would be smart to ban it here and force NiP into picking Inferno, Overpass or Mirage, maps where Liquid would be more comfortable. If they do, I see Liquid having a good chance of making this a competitive series. 

Gambit (1.36) vs. mouz (3.05)

Gambit are significant favourites in this matchup and rightfully so, in my opinion. The fact that they perma-ban Nuke is good against a team like mouz, and with neither team really playing Ancient much, this map shouldn’t be a factor. I can’t really make a solid enough case for mousesports despite the fact that I like the look of them at the moment. (1.95) vs. BIG (1.82)

I like BIG’s chances on home turf versus a side that has looked shaky recently. The question is if it is really worth betting on them at the current odds, because just a month ago, would be a significant favourite in this matchup. If you get/got in at plus money, it is well worth it but otherwise it is a pass.

G2 (1.57) vs. Complexity (2.37)

Complexity are probably the one underdog that I like in this tough group. Historically, they have been a hard team for G2 to deal with, and although G2 have since strengthened their team with the addition of a world-class player (NiKo), this could still come into play. I like coL to win or take a map in this series.

NaVi (1.12) vs. Renegades (6.00)

Renegades have done great to get to this point but they face a David vs. Goliat type matchup here against a very strong NaVi side. It is hard for me to make a case for Renegades here at all. If they came into this match with a bit of a trump card by picking Ancient, they would have a chance, but sadly this is a map that they have neglected. I don’t really think that this current NaVi roster is weak enough on Inferno either for Renegades to take advantage. NaVi should take this one without breaking too much of a sweat.

FURIA (2.50) vs. Vitality (1.52)

I do like FURIA’s chances of advancement in this group but the question is if they have what it takes to overcome Vitality in this matchup as the underdog. I believe they do. I like how their map pool sets up against them, having Dust2 as their perma-ban and a very strong Inferno. 

Astralis (1.63) vs. FaZe (2.19)

This is a weird one. I don’t like Astralis without device at all and FaZe are all over the place. I think Astralis have the map pool advantage since they perma-ban Mirage and still have a solid Nuke and Inferno game, but I like FaZe a bit more as a team overall at the moment. If Astralis pick Inferno, I’d bet on them to win that. 

Heroic (1.62) vs. Spirit (2.22)

I’m just gonna go with Heroic here despite their recent downswing. Spirit have amazing individuals but they are inconsistent. Heroic have the advantage of having Dust2 as their perma-ban, which is Spirit’s best map by far. Heroic also has the edge on Nuke, and Spirit cannot afford to float Vertigo in this matchup. If this were to go to a decider, Inferno is probable and I just don’t trust Spirit’s Inferno at the moment.