Only six teams remain in the fight for CSGO’s first LAN championship since 2020 at the IEM Cologne playoffs.
After an exciting play-in and group stage, 24 of the world’s best CSGO teams have been whittled down to just six. Group stage winners G2 Esports and Natus Vincere earned express tickets to the semifinals. The second and third-place teams start the single-elimination bracket from the quarterfinals. These IEM Cologne playoffs are the most important CSGO matches of the summer.
The first round of playoffs will begin on July 16. Each of the five remaining matches is an awesome betting opportunity thanks to the high stakes and the renewed tension of live games. Here’s our picks and analysis for the IEM Cologne CSGO playoffs.
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The loss of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz was perceived as a massive hit to Astralis, but the Danes are here in the IEM Cologne playoffs while Ninjas in Pyjamas fell earlier in the competition. Astralis’ core roster is the winningest lineup of modern CSGO. The return to LAN may benefit Astralis more than any other team.
The only blemish on Astralis’ group stage run was a 1-2 loss to Natus Vincere in the group stage finals. A loss to Na’Vi of all teams isn’t enough to keep the Danes down.
Virtus.pro was the team to beat in the late online era, but a string of rough finishes has put VP on the edge of CSGO’s top tier. The stabilized roster’s biggest pickup was Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis. The versatile Latvian rifler is bloodthirsty, racking up 0.72 kills and 81.8 damage per round at IEM Cologne.
Virtus.pro’s path to the playoffs included a first-round misstep against BIG, but it’s easy to write that off as a fluke. The Eastern Europeans won the group stage finals rematch 2-0. Complexity and Ninjas in Pyjamas represent two more solid wins under Virtus.pro’s belt.
This is definitely the closest opening match of the playoffs, as is reflected in the odds. Virtus.pro bettors will get 2.16 times their money while Astralis fans are slightly favored at 1.70. While Virtus.pro will definitely put on an entertaining show, Astralis’ consistency and LAN experience definitely grants them an edge. Train is notably absent from the map pool, which is one of Virtus.pro’s best maps and probably Astralis’ worst. A $20 bet on Astralis in three maps could net a handsome $66 on Luckbox.
IEM Cologne is Gambit’s opportunity to cement its status as the best CSGO team in the world. The squad was unquestionably the best team of the late online era, having earned 11 championship since October 2020. Their recent online trophies include BLAST Spring Finals, IEM Summer, and EPIC CIS League. Converting that success into an offline trophy would completely end any argument against them.
The Russian squad might have drawn the hardest bracket of the IEM Cologne group stage. Despite being invited at a high seed, Gambit played against Mouseports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and G2 Esports in the preliminaries. Gambit’s players have very little LAN experience compared to their competitors, but they looked as comfortable as ever at IEM Cologne.
FaZe Clan is another CSGO team that just oozes cool confidence. Olof “olofmeister” Gustafsson, Håvard “rain” Nygaard, and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken are the most dangerous trio in CSGO. All three players seem to greatly appreciate the return to LAN. Twistzz in particular has put up an incredible 84.6 damage with a 61.4% headshot rate at the event.
FaZe’s phenomenal run has left it as the only play-in squad to make it past the group stage. Even Heroic, the expected favorite for their group, couldn’t stop the superteam from reaching the playoffs. However, the last challenger still stands against the odds. A $5 chance bet on the underdog FaZe to beat Gambit would earn more than $15 on return.
Gambit vs. FaZe is a showdown between grizzled veterans and rising stars. While there is a very real chance that one of FaZe’s star rifles will pop off and earn the team a map, the most likely outcome is a dominant win for Gambit. The potential earning from a FaZe bet is tempting, but a safer bet at 1.35 odds can boost your wallet for the IEM Cologne grand finals on July 18.