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IEM Chicago 2019 Preview

This year, Team Liquid will be going in as the tournament favorite after a hot streak which includes wins at DreamHack Dallas, ESL Pro League Finals, ESL One Cologne and BLAST Los Angeles

Valentin Gustafsson
Freelance Esports Writer
16th Jul, 2019·☕️ 7 min read
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Team Liquid are on a hot streak and will hope to make it five in a row with a win in Chicago. Read on as we break down all you need to know about IEM Chicago.

Competition Information

The Intel Extreme Masters is a series of tournaments organized by ESL and we are currently in the 14th season of the competition. This will be the second IEM tournament of the year, after IEM Sydney back in late April. The tournament will be hosted in Chicago, Illinois and will feature eight teams — six of whom have been invited, with the remainder of the spots being filled through qualifiers.

This will be the second time that The Intel Extreme Masters will take place in Chicago. At last year’s event, we saw Astralis take down Team Liquid 3–0 in a one-sided final to hoist the trophy in front of the American crowd. This year, Team Liquid will be going in as the tournament favorite after a hot streak which includes wins at DreamHack Masters Dallas, The ESL Pro League Finals, ESL One Cologne and BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles. The Danes will not be around to defend their trophy this time around, as they have chosen to skip this event.

The format for this competition is excellent as we have become accustomed to with ESL events. There will be two GSL groups (double-elimination) and the eight teams in the competition have been seeded based on ESL’s world rankings. The winner will have to really earn it as there will be best-of-threes for all matches leading up to the best-of-five final.

The tournament kicks off July 18 and the winner will be crowned July 21.

The Current Season

As always, Skrilla will be running fantasy contests for IEM Chicago. We have put together a list of some of the top scorers and sleepers that could help you climb the leaderboard.

Fantasy Preview

ZywOo big

Ah, yes.. ZywOo, the humble assassin. ZywOo has quickly established himself as one of the world’s best players and he is almost a must pick at this point. Just like s1mple of NaVi, ZywOo is capable of putting up monstrous numbers even in losing efforts, which makes him a solid pick in just about any situation. There really isn’t much else to be said about ZywOo, just pick the guy, you will rarely be disappointed.

Twistzz big

Team Liquid are on a roll at the moment and pretty much every player on the roster makes for a solid pick, however, Twistzz is always the one I hover my cursor over first. Why? His skillset. Twistzz is one of the best aimers in the game right now. He consistently puts up headshot accuracies way above 60% and he puts a ton of frags on the board without dying much. His defensive style of play makes him a consistent performer and a safer pick than someone like Stewie2k or even EliGE. His only downside is his low assist total which comes as a result of his defensive style of play. However, assists are far less valuable than headshots in fantasy scoring. Both EliGE and NAF make for excellent picks alongside Twistzz and I would recommend paring them up if possible. EliGE, in particular, has been on fire throughout the entirety of 2019 and his frag totals should not be ignored especially against lesser opponents where he is able to make the most out of his aggressive style of play. However, Twistzz has the highest upside of them all, in my opinion.

sergej big

There is only one player on ENCE that I can recommend with confidence and that is sergej. ENCE wins most of their games as a unit so even though the likes of allu and Aerial are capable of having great games, they can both be hit or miss at times. The exception is sergej, who is the most consistent performer on the team. Unlike his teammates, he tends to put up high headshot totals and he is excellent at putting himself in positions to multi frag or to clutch out rounds. ENCE are coming off a poor performance in Cologne and with Liquid and Vitality making a lot of headlines recently, I expect people to sleep on ENCE — which makes sergej a very interesting pick for contrarian reasons.

shox big

shox’s G2 are coming off a win in Poland at the Good Game League finals where they defeated the likes of GamerLegion and Tricked. They will be going up against far tougher competition in Chicago, but the win will be a well-needed boost to their confidence nonetheless. shox and kennyS are the big stars of the team, but if I have to pick one, I’m gonna have to go with shox at this point due to his headshot and assist totals. If you roll back time a year or two I would have adviced people to stay far away from shox, as he was mostly overpriced and overhyped considering his performance at the time. However, it seems as if shox has revitalized his career in this new G2 roster. As longtime fans of CS:GO will know, shox is a great aimer who is incredibly strong in clutch situations. G2 have enough skill to go up against anyone in Chicago, and if they make a deep run, shox will likely be putting up big numbers for his team.

Sleepers

blameF big

For some reason, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about blameF recently, but the truth is that the Great Dane is putting up excellent numbers for Heroic. He played a big part in wins versus ENCE and BIG at ESL Cologne and his performance versus ENCE was particularly impressive, as he posted 30 frags in 26 rounds for a +15 K/D differential. His style of play translates well to fantasy since he puts a ton of kills and assists on the board without dying much. His only weakness is his headshot accuracy, which is on the lower side for someone who is a fulltime rifler.

JaCkz big

At first glance, JaCkz’s numbers may not stand out much. But he has been excellent for G2 recently. kennyS and shox may be the stars of this team, but the truth is that JaCkz has outscored both of them in the last three weeks. G2’s latest outing was in the Good Game League finals, where JaCkz was an absolute monster, posting a K/D ratio of 1.49 with 0.17 assists per round and a headshot accuracy of 59.3% — which was enough to give G2 the win in Poland.

Sonic big

The big underdog of this competition will be the North American side Envy. The first iteration of this roster was an absolute mess of a team, but they have since made a complete revamp of their roster by picking up s0m, FugLy, ANDROID and lastly, the South African player Sonic. A lot of people might not be too familiar with Sonic, since he played most of his career on the South African team Bravado. However, he is widely regarded as the country’s biggest talent. So far, he has picked up the main AWP for Envy and he has done a great job doing so, as he currently leads his team in kills and overall K/D differential. The likes of Nifty, ANDROID and s0m will be giving you more points for headshots and assists, but Sonic’s impact on this team should not be ignored and he will make for a very sneaky pick in fantasy for those brave/crazy enough to pick a player from Envy.

Betting Tips

Team Liquid (1.60) are in scary form right now and they are deservedly the favorites going into IEM Chicago. It’s really hard to bet against them right now and I wouldn’t fault you for wanting to ride the wave while it’s still going. However, Team Liquid’s odds have shortened substantially so a bet on Liquid will not return big profits.

If you want to take a stab at a bigger number, the most interesting candidate will be ENCE (10.0). The Finns are coming off a bad showing in Cologne, but the number is long enough to be considered. However, they might not have enough skill to really challenge a team as stacked as Liquid in a potential final. As such, I would recommend taking a look at the Top 2 market instead.

The two teams that have enough skill to go toe to toe with Liquid are Vitality (4.75) and G2 (13.50) in my opinion. The latter makes for a far more interesting bet in my opinion due to the long number. G2’s chances of making playoffs are big with MIBR and Envy in their group and since Liquid are in the same group, they will be able to avoid the North Americans in the semi-finals. This makes G2 a very solid pick in the Top 2 market.

That’s it for this time. Good luck with your selections!