IEM Cologne 2022 - Major Playoffs - Preview
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IEM Cologne 2022 - Major Playoffs - Preview

After a grueling group stage, we have finally reached the playoffs in Cologne, Germany

Author: Valle
Valle
Freelance Esports Writer
13th Jul, 22·☕️ 6 min read
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After a grueling group stage, we have finally reached the playoffs in Cologne, Germany. Pre-tournament favourites FaZe and Natus Vincere blitzed through the competition to secure their place in the semi-finals, with Astralis, MOUZ, Movistar Riders and Liquid clinching the last four spots in the quarter-finals. 

Format

The teams will play through a single-elimination bracket with BO3s for the quarter and semi-finals, with a BO5 for the grand-final. Unlike in the group stage, there will be no second chances! 

When & Where

The IEM Cologne 2022 playoffs will take place in the LANXESS Arena, starting with the quarter-finals on July 15th. The semi-finals will follow on July 16th and the grand final will be played July 17th. The event will be streamed on Twitch.

Teams

Natus Vincere

Natus Vincere
Record: 51 / 0 / 22
Most Played Map: Mirage (71.4%)
Best Map: Ancient (87.5%)
Worst Map: Inferno (50.0%)

Natus Vincere won the BLAST Premier Spring Final in style, and they have carried this strong form to Cologne. The former Spirit player, sdy, has come in to replace Boombl4, and so far, it has been a success story for Na`Vi. Electronic has taken over as the team’s in-game leader, and it appears that this has only helped to elevate the team further.against NiP, MOUZ and Movistar Riders was enough for NaVi to secure a spot in the semi-finals, which means that they will face the winner between MOUZ and Astralis. Both of these teams have taken a map off NaVi in recent time, but have not beaten them. 

FaZe

FaZe
Record: 62 / 0 / 31
Most Played Map: Inferno (65.0%)
Best Map: Nuke (92.3%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (52.9%)

FaZe have been scorching hot since they brought in ropz from mousesports and they have not disappointed so far in Cologne. So far, they have yet to drop a map, beating out 00Nation, Spirit and Astralis to claim their spot in the semi-finals. They will go up against either Liquid or Movistar Riders in the semi-finals, both of whom they will be heavily favoured against. 

MOUZ

MOUZ
Record: 44 / 0 / 26
Most Played Map: Nuke (60.0%)
Best Map: Ancient (90.9%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (0.0%)

MOUZ have been a positive surprise at the event so far. dexter has managed to lead a young team, with rising stars such as torzsi and Bymas, all the way to the playoffs. The teams that they have taken out along the way are no joke either, with wins coming against NiP, Vitality and Heroic after losing their opening match against a scorching hot NaVi side. All of their players have chimed in with good performances so far, which is a promising sign going into the playoffs. They will need a lot more of that, if they want take out Astralis and set-up a re-match against NaVi in the semis. 

Astralis

Astralis
Record: 46 / 0 / 35
Most Played Map: Nuke (82.4%)
Best Map: Nuke (82.4%)
Worst Map: Vertigo (25.0%)

Astralis have looked shaky in recent months, and k0nfig’s struggles have been concerning for the Danes. However, k0nfig started the Cologne group stage in a great way with an MVP worthy performance in a win against FURIA, which was just what the doctor ordered for Astralis. Following their win against FURIA, Astralis beat out Cloud9 in a very impressive clean 2–0 sweep before falling to FaZe in the last match. In my mind, k0nfig is the guy that needs to be dialed in for Astralis if they want to make a run in the playoffs. blameF has been his usual consistent self, delivering monstrous numbers, but they are in dire need of k0nfig’s explosive performances. 

Liquid

Team Liquid
Record: 44 / 0 / 35
Most Played Map: Mirage (71.4%)
Best Map: Dust2 (62.5%)
Worst Map: Overpass (44.4%)

EliGE has often spoken positively about YEKINDAR, so it is of no surprise to me that they decided to jump on the chance to pick up YEKINDAR for this event. So far, it has paid off, with Liquid making the playoffs after beating 00Nation, Cloud9 and FURIA. The aggressive play-making ability of YEKINDAR really helps open things up for someone like NAF to thrive, and all the burden is no longer on EliGE to find openings for Liquid. They will take on the Spaniards from Movistar Riders in the quarters, a team that they lost to in the ESL Pro League earlier in the year. But with YEKINDAR, they will be in a good spot to get their revenge.

Movistar Riders

Movistar Riders
Record: 50 / 0 / 42
Most Played Map: Nuke (63.2%)
Best Map: Nuke (63.2%)
Worst Map: Overpass (38.5%)

Not many people expected Movistar Riders to go this far, and as such, many pick-ems have been crushed by these guys. Despite the fact that they have shown the ability to beat big names in the past, it is easy to see why they get overlooked. They are by no means a sexy team, so-to-speak, with mopoz perhaps being the most eye-catching player on the team with his aggressive plays. But make no mistake, they do have great team synergy and a map pool that is respectable. 

Quarter-Finals Analysis

Astralis (1.72) vs. MOUZ (2.00)

I would expect Astralis and MOUZ to ban Vertigo and Overpass, respectively, which should give us a trio of maps where both teams will be fairly comfortable. MOUZ often goes for the D2 ban, but considering that this is a map that Astralis doesn’t like to play, it would be worth floating it — and I think they will. 

Astralis should be banning Vertigo as it is a terrible map for them and a great one for MOUZ. This should leave us with some combination of Mirage/Inferno, Nuke and Ancient. Nuke and Ancient are strong maps for both teams, but neither team is particularly strong on Mirage and Inferno. 

This should make for a pretty even match. The books have Astralis as a slight favourite, and I would agree with that assessment, but MOUZ will have a great chance due to their brilliant form on Ancient (Just one loss in eleven games). This is a map that Astralis have been picking themselves after k0nfig and blameF were brought in, but they have really struggled on this map lately (just one win in their last five.)

Sadly, it is quite tough to predict the order of the veto with confidence. If you can spot the veto before bets are locked, I would definitely look at the map specific markets for this game. There could be some value on MOUZ on Ancient, and the Over could be in play on a map like Nuke. 

Liquid (1.85) vs. Movistar Riders (1.85)

Another 50/50 type matchup with Liquid taking on Movistar Riders. Looking at the veto, this one should be a bit more straight-forward than the Astalis/MOUZ game. 

Liquid have been banning Nuke against any team that doesn’t have it as their perma-ban, and they should be banning it here against Movistar Riders. A very good map to get out of the way, as this is Movistar Riders’ best map. Movistar Riders should go for their usual Dust2 perma-ban. Movistar Riders have two stand-out maps, and those are Nuke and Inferno and they should be picking the latter against Liquid after beating both NaVi and G2 on Inferno earlier in the tournament. Liquid on the other hand, will likely opt for Ancient. In this one, both teams will be heavy favorites on their respective map selections.

If we were to get to a decider, Vertigo likely awaits. I would put Movistar Riders as a slight favourite on this map due to their experience. It is their second most played map in the pool and their third best in terms of win rate (59.5%)

I think it is worth looking at the Over in this match. It is quite probable that we go to three maps like these two teams did in their match at the ESL Pro League back in March. 

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