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IEM Summer 2021 - Playoffs Preview

IEM Summer 2021 is about to enter the playoff stage. Six teams have made it through a stacked group stage and will hope to take home part of the $250,000 prize pool and circuit points for ESL Pro Tour and BLAST. 

Valle
Freelance Esports Writer
11th Jun, 21·☕️ 4 min read
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IEM Summer 2021 is about to enter the playoff stage. Six teams have made it through a stacked group stage and will hope to take home part of the $250,000 prize pool and circuit points for ESL Pro Tour and BLAST. 

The playoff format is pretty straightforward, featuring a single-elimination bracket with best-of-threes leading up to the best-of-five grand final. G2 and OG have already made it through to the semi-finals after placing first in their respective groups, while Evil Geniuses, Gambit, Vitality and Virtus.pro will have to start in the quarter-finals. 

The matches are:

Quarter Finals

Gambit (1.25) vs Evil Geniuses (3.80)

The surprise of the tournament so far has been Evil Geniuses, who made it through by beating Team Spirit and Heroic. oBo has had a great tournament for EG so far, leading the team with a 1.13 rating, and he will have to be influential once more if EG are to pull off the upset against an accomplished Gambit side. The Russians are currently ranked №1 in HLTV’s world rankings and they are unsurprisingly a considerable favourite with the bookies. 

These two sides actually faced off not too long ago, at IEM Katowice in February. That time, it was EG who came out on top with a 2–0 sweep. However, EG have undergone changes since then, with MICHU and oBo coming in for Ethan and tarik.  I do like the upset potential of this EG side, but I am worried about how they will match up stylistically against Gambit. With that said, their map pool isn’t a terrible fit for a team like Gambit. The Russians usually stick to their common Nuke ban. This hasn’t been a very good map for EG recently anyway, having lost five straight on this map. This should allow EG to ban a map like Vertigo, setting up a series of maps where they will be comfortable. 

The introduction of Ancient to the map pool also throws a spanner in the works and gives underdogs a better chance at upsets, as few teams will have mastered this map yet. However, EG have shown no willingness to play this map, so that likely won’t be a factor in this match in particular. 

Conclusion

  • I would expect Gambit to take this series, but I think EG are certainly a live dog. I think you can make a solid case for the handicap lines, as EG will probably get a set of maps where they can be competitive even against a strong team like Gambit.

Virtus.pro (1.83) vs Vitality (1.95)

Just like EG and Gambit, these two teams faced off at IEM Katowice earlier in the year. Virtus.pro came out on top with a 2–0 sweep that time around. Since then, Vitality have gotten rid of their rotational sixth man Nivera and their veteran RpK in favour of youngster Kyojin. Their results with Kyojin have been far from great, but they have shown solid form at this tournament, beating both Gambit and Complexity. Virtus.pro made quick work of a struggling fnatic side in the opener, only to lose against OG in the following. However, they battled back wins against CIS rivals Spirit and an in-form NiP side to make playoffs.

Conclusion

  • Personally, I am still not quite sold on this Vitality roster. With ZywOo, they are always going to have an excellent shot against anyone, but Virtus.pro are a more solid team from top to bottom. They have proven that they can beat Vitality, and at close to a pick’em, I favour them to do so once again.

Semi-Finals

In the semi-finals, G2 and OG await the winners of these two matches. Both teams have fallen short of titles in recent history, but perhaps they both have a better shot than ever. OG finally have enough firepower to contend for titles, and I think they are more than capable of beating a team like VP or Vitality to make the finals here.

G2 haven’t won a title since NiKo joined the team, but they are in a brilliant spot to do so here. If they can just make it past the semis, they will face off against either OG, Vitality or Virtus.pro. These are teams that they have never lost to with NiKo. In fact, they have pulled off clean sweeps against Virtus.pro and Vitality (twice).

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