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Intel Extreme Masters XIV — Sydney Preview

Renegades are coming off a great run at IEM Katowice and will be hoping to replicate that success at home as the Intel Extreme Masters returns to Sydney.

Valentin Gustafsson
Freelance Esports Writer
27th Feb, 2019·☕️ 6 min read
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Renegades are coming off a great run at IEM Katowice and will be hoping to replicate that success at home as the Intel Extreme Masters returns to Sydney, Australia. We should be in for a good one, as many of the world’s best teams will be in attendance. Read on as we break down all you need to know about this year’s tournament.

Competition Information

One of the biggest events of the year is soon upon us, as the Intel Extreme Masters returns to Sydney for the third time. Sixteen teams from all over the world will be competing for the coveted trophy and the first place prize of $100,000. The tournament will be kicking off April 30 and the final will be played on May 5.

The group stage will be seeded based on ESL’s World Rankings and the teams will be put in two double-elimination groups, with the first matches being best-of-one. The remainder of the tournament will be best-of-three, with the exception being the final which will be best-of-five. The group winners will advance directly to the semi-finals whereas the runner-up and third-place team will advance to the quarters. The runner-up will advance with the higher seed, and will thus potentially face an easier opponent in the quarter-finals.

FaZe FaZe defeated Astralis to win IEM Sydney 2018.

At last year’s event, we saw FaZe take down Astralis after three closely contested maps. FaZe had a rocky road to the finals, losing to Renegades in groups and dropping maps to the likes of TYLOO and Grayhound, but they stepped it up for the finals against Astralis. FaZe were able to steal wins on both Cache and Mirage in overtime and closed out Train 16–14 in regulation to hoist the trophy in Sydney. The win came off the back of an outstanding performance by Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács who was later awarded the MVP of the tournament. FaZe also had success here back in 2017 when this event was played for the first time, making it all the way to the finals where they ended up losing to the Brazilian side SK (now MIBR).

liazz liazz will return to the tournament where he made his breakthrough.

This was also the tournament in which Jay ‘liazz’ Tregillgas had his great breakthrough on ORDER, which ultimately earned him a place on Australia’s best team, Renegades. The young Aussie had an incredible series against Cloud9 in which he dropped 79 frags in total with a K/D ratio of 1.52 and 21 total assists for a combined rating of 1.46 — best on the server by quite some margin. liazz will hope to replicate that success, this time on the side of Renegades who were among the first teams to be invited to this year’s event. However, on Renegades liazz has had to take a backseat to players such as Justin ‘jks’ Savage and Joakim ‘jkaem’ Myrbostad, so it would be unreasonable to expect the same type of production this time around. The Renegades (often referred to as ‘The Boys’) — are coming off an incredible performance at the Intel Katowice Major, where they breezed through both the major qualifiers and the new legends stage to make it into the top eight. They followed that up with another great showing at StarSeries & i-League Season 7 where they reached the semi-final. The Renegades have proven that they’re a team to be reckoned with and their recent showings have earned them a spot in HLTV’s top 10. They will hope to build upon that performance going into IEM Sydney on home court and the pressure will be on as Renegades will no longer be underestimated by the top teams. One thing is for certain, the boys will undoubtedly have incredible support from the Australian fans and will hope to feed off that adrenaline to make yet another deep run in a premier tournament.

The Current Season

Five teams to watch

fnatic stats

After disappointing showings at WESG and IEM Katowice, fnatic opted to make some changes to their t-side by putting JW in to more of an aggressive role as well as handing over the t-side AWP to twist. The change proved to be effective, as they went undefeated in group play at StarSeries i-League. They followed that up with wins against North and NRG in the playoffs to make it to the final where Natus Vincere proved to be too much to handle. The Swedes will hope to prove that their performance in China wasn’t a fluke with another good showing in Sydney.

mousesports stats

mousesports will be making their first offline appearance with their newly formed roster at IEM Sydney. The organization has chosen to let go of longtime members; oskar, suNny and STYKO. Instead, they have chosen to pick up former FaZe in-game leader karrigan, who has assembled a lineup of young and hungry players like woxic and frozen — two players who have been making waves with HellRaisers and NoChance respectively. The two remaining players from the old lineup are ropz and chrisJ, and it appears as if ropz in particular has benefited greatly from the recent changes as he has been putting up big numbers for the team so far.

FaZe stats

The defending IEM Sydney champion FaZe are coming off a surprising win at Blast Pro Series Miami where they defeated Team Liquid in the final. NiKo was stellar as usual, but the win wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for players like rain and AdreN who had vintage performances throughout the tournament. It truly shows how scary FaZe can be with the skill that they have on their roster and a confident FaZe will be a difficult opponent for anyone, especially at a tournament that they have won in the past.

Renegades

Another team to pay close attention to in Sydney will of course be the home team Renegades. The Australians continue to defy the odds and are coming off another top placing at StarSeries. It’s unlikely that they will be underestimated any longer and the Renegades now find themselves in a position where they will be the favorite against many of the teams in the competition. Will the pressure to perform in front of their home fans make or break them? That is the question. One thing is for certain, without teams like Astralis and Natus Vincere in attendance, the Aussies will be in prime position to make history in front of their home fans.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid are coming off another second place finish as they lost to FaZe in the final of Blast Pro Series Miami. Team Liquid have been playing second fiddle to Astralis for a while now, so it was especially disappointing to see them walk away without the trophy when it was right there for the taking. However, the North American side will be one of the favorites for the title in Sydney due to their incredible consistency. They have never failed to make the playoffs of a LAN tournament since Stewie2k joined the roster, and without Astralis in attendance, they will certainly be an odds on favorite to get their revenge on FaZe and go all the way in Sydney.

Betting Tips

FaZe will be among the favorites due to their win at Blast Pro Series Miami as well as their history at the event, but I would personally go for Team Liquid who consistently put themselves in a good position to win events compared to FaZe who are far more volatile. Betting underdogs in the outright winner market will be a bit less lucrative at this event due to the format, since the winner will have to battle through a long and grueling tournament which includes best-of-threes for the majority of it — including a best-of-five for the final. However, there will be some opportunities in group play — especially in the opening matches which are best-of-one. A team like NiP will be interesting in the opener regardless of opponent, since they are quite strong in best-of-ones historically. Their strength on a map like Nuke benefits them a fair bit in this regard, as it gives them some leeway in the map veto. The same goes for Heroic, who will likely be big underdogs in a lot of matchups at this event. These are two teams that I think might provide some value at longer odds, either in the opening matches or as a potential map handicap bet, as they are more than capable of stealing maps against some of the other teams in this competition.