Cologne is a landmark city in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive history, and Intel Extreme Masters is one of the most prestigious circuits in the game. IEM Cologne marks a return to LAN play, something CSGO has sorely missed since early 2020. Offline play in a historic city for a $1,000,000 prize purse makes IEM Cologne the must-watch CSGO event of the summer.
Eight teams have already secured a group stage berth. 16 more will fight for the remaining eight slots, creating a ton of opportunities to bet on CSGO. The offline tension will make any wager even more intense. These four CSGO matches are the best betting opportunities for IEM Cologne’s play-in stage.
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Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Team LDLC
Two historic names will ring in the play-in stage at Intel Extreme Masters Cologne. Ninjas in Pyjamas have shot up in the rankings after signing CSGO legend Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, who has up a consistent 75 damage per round since joining the Swedish club. Team LDLC can’t be counted out completely thanks to the quick reflexes of Bryan “Maka” Canda, but the squad’s 3.50 odds aren’t very optimistic.
This classic matchup has historically gone to Ninjas in Pyjamas. The modern rematch should be no different, as reflected in NiP’s 1.28 odds to take the match. LDLC will be a name to watch if the squad makes it past play-ins, but a safe bet on Ninjas in Pyjamas is a good start for IEM Cologne.
Evil Geniuses vs FaZe Clan
With players such as Olof “olofmeister” Gustafsson and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, FaZe Clan’s star power is off the charts. The same could be said about Evil Geniuses, which is made up of rising stars and veteran talent from North America. But both teams’ recent results have been disappointing. FaZe barely squeezed into Cologne thanks to their #20 ranking on the ESL leaderboard while EG ranked only third in the NA Road to Cologne. Both teams see IEM Cologne as an opportunity to break out of their respective slumps.
At 1.92 for Evil Geniuses and 1.87 for FaZe Clan, this is the closest match of the IEM Cologne play-in. Both teams have put up middling results at recent events, but Evil Geniuses are still in better form going into IEM Cologne. Owen “oBo” Schlatter’s standout .73 kills per round might be enough to take Evil Genius to the group stage. Either teams will net a sizable return, but EG is a solid pick to take this first round series.
BIG vs Sprout
This match will be a battle between two of the best teams in Germany. Sprout’s roster moves in early 2021 have largely paid off. Marko “kressy” Đorđević sports an impressive 47.9% headshot rate with .70 kills per round and Fritz “slaxz-” Dietrich has pulled off close to 40 clutches in 2021. Will that be enough to take down the Gamers Without Borders champions at BIG?
Probably not. BIG is considered the best roster in Germany for a reason and its recent wins over mousesports and Furia further cemented that fact. An upset is certainly possible, but BIG captain Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz won’t take it easy against his fellow countrymen. 1.45 odds represent a sizable payout for what is a fairly safe bet on BIG.
Team Vitality vs Renegades
If Australian CSGO teams are famous for one thing, it’s putting European teams in the dumpster at the most inconvenient of times. Renegades performed that very feat against Vitality at the StarLadder Berlin Major prior to the online era. Despite rough runs at ESL Pro League and the IEM Championship early this year, Renegades has a very real chance of beating Vitality and netting a substantial 3.70 return.
It’s difficult to overestimate Renegades’ dominance in Australia. After returning home from Europe in March, Renegades immediately earned two championship wins with only five lost maps. Joshua “INS” Potter accumulated a chart-breaking 92.3 damage and .82 kills per round along the way. In the same timespan, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut tempered down to 85.8 damage and .81 kills. Vitality has also struggled to get into the playoffs for much of 2021. Knocking the French icons into the lower bracket with an entirely new roster would cement Renegades and Vitality as international CSGO rivals.