Out of 24 competing teams, G2 Esports and Natus Vincere have clawed their way to IEM Cologne’s grand finals.
IEM Cologne opened with a lengthy play-in stage followed by a group preliminary. For the semi-finals, G2 Esports edged it out over Astralis and Natus Vincere bulldozed FaZe Clan. Their grand finals match will be the biggest CSGO betting opportunity of 2021.
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G2 Esports was a forgotten favorite going into this event. All eyes were on Astralis and Natus Vincere heading into the playoffs, but Nemanja “nexa” Isaković’s and his teammates tore through the group stage with ease. A sharp upset over Gambit Esports secured a top-six finish. Now, a $50 bet on G2 in five maps would net a wonderful $300 return.
G2 Esports’ Astralis match was the biggest test of the international lineup’s coordination. Both teams won on their opponents’ map picks, setting up a decisive third game. G2 then dominated the mental game against the Danish veterans. Several clever fakes cleared Inferno’s bomb sites for G2 without a shot. Cousins Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač combined for 39 kills and 148.7 DPR. The pair showed off the power of family with a two-on-four defense in round 28.
G2 has greatly benefitted from the return to LAN plan. François “AmaNEk” Delaunay and NiKo are both highly experienced players at the top level of CSGO. A low ping and live environment lets them show off their rifling skills even more. Their last LAN performance was a second-place finish at the Intel Extreme World Championship in March of 2020. G2 Esports has matched the accomplishment, and only one match stands in their way of exceeding it.
Natus Vincere was a scary opponent heading into IEM Cologne. No player presents the challenge that Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev does. The superstar sniper has put up insane stats all tournament long, and his teammates have enabled him to pop off on LAN. The smart money has been on Natus Vincere since the start of IEM Cologne.
During Na’Vi’s dominant win over FaZe, the casting duo referred to s1mple as the Micheal Jordan of CSGO. They quickly equated s1mple’s teammates to those of Michael Jordan’s famous Chicago Bulls teams, with Denis “electronic” Sharipov as Scottie Pippen and Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov as Dennis Rodman. The stats certainly back up that comparison. s1mple earned an absurd 1.78 HLTV rating for the series. Boombl4 and electronic racked up 75 kills with just 55 deaths.
Natus Vincere is another legacy team that only benefits from returning to offline play. Pressure is a non-factor for most of Na’Vi’s players. These pros already have a decorated trophy cabinet. A victory at the first post-pandemic LAN could further secure s1mple’s legacy as the greatest CSGO player of our time.
As inspiring as G2 Esports’ journey to the grand finals is, Na’Vi look completely unstoppable in this tournament. The most likely outcome is a repeat of Natus Vincere’s stomp against FaZe. G2 Esports’ sliver of hope is a last-minute choke from Na’Vi’s star trio. However, the best-of-five format doesn’t do G2 any favors. The pan-European team is listed at 2.80 odds for a reason.
It’s also important to note that the IEM Cologne grand finals will be a best-of-five. This will have a significant impact on map picks. This area once again goes to Natus Vincere. The squad has perfect LAN records for both Ancient and G2 has lost one of two games on Vertigo. G2 cannot ban both, as they’ve usually opted to do.
Natus Vincere have set themselves up for the lion’s share of IEM Cologne’s $1,000,000 prize purse. It’s not impossible for G2 Esports to pull an upset, but three games just doesn’t seem realistic. The generous 1.43 odds make Na’Vi an easy and potentially lucrative pick.
Find out for sure when Intel Extreme Masters Cologne resolves on July 18 at 9 AM CDT.