The IEM Global Challenge is already in full swing, but its matchup between Team Liquid and Natus Vincere in the tournament for first place in group B is going to be a shootout for teams bettors alike.
Group B’s winner’s match between Na`Vi and Team Liquid is about as uncertain of a game as punters could ask for. At eight teams, there isn’t much wiggle room at IEM for teams to warm up. Both teams have been inconsistant recently but remain among CSGO’s best. This result will likely rely less on each team’s X-factor players and more around which supporting CSGO cast can back those players more effectively. It’s as close to a 50/50 split as players will see from a statistical point of view.
Each team’s opening matchups were both similar and equally surprising. Na`Vi beat FURIA on Inferno 16-11 and Nuke 16-13 in a best-of-three that looks like just a normal day at work for these teams, but that’s not the case here. Furia has completely owned Inferno against all competitions ince September 8. Until Na`Vi, it owned an eight-game win streak on the map against a list of some of the world’s best teams. On the other side, Na`Vi hasn’t ever gotten the hand of Inferno, posting a 50% win rate complete with big losses against lesser teams, such as a 6-16 slapping from CyberLegacy in October.
Na`Vi’s Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev had other things in store for FURIA. By the end of the match, s1mple had a 1.51 rating and was involved in over 80% of his team’s kills. That’s an impressive stat considering Inferno’s reputation as a rotate simulator thanks to its long travel time between bombsites. He was backed by solid performances by both Denis “electronic” Sharipov and Egor “flamie” Vasilev, and the combination resembled the same Na`Vi power fans saw decimate teams nearly a year ago at IEM Katowice.
Plus, s1mple somehow managed to improve on his famous knife trick on Nuke.
Liquid defeated Heroic in exactly the same fashion, with Jake “Stewie2k” Yip leading the charge on Nuke with a 1.58 rating and an ADR over 100. But unlike s1mple, Stewie had support from the entire team, not just parts of it. Liquid also picked up some serious ground in fighting a reputation for choking when games are on the line. They won six out of eight clutches and were effectively aggressive to boot, taking the first kill of the round 58% of the time. That aggression is new to TL, and its appearence might be a sign that the young team is leaning into a play style that has helped some North American teams overpower international opponents in the past.
Stewie2k and s1mple won’t be the ones to decide the game, but with two of Na`Vi’s players underperforming and Liquid’s supporting players showing more consistancy, the match leans ever so slightly in Liquid’s favor. With the potential for Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski to shake off a slump and regain his top-10 form, those chances only increase. Players interested in getting started taking a stake in either team can find a list of credible online betting providers here, but there are some lopsided odds found across bookmakers for tomorrow’s matchup. Most are favoring Na`Vi by large margins, with WINNERS.bet offering a 1.45 line to Team Liquid’s 2.55. There’s risk and reward here, but Liquid’s odds are being dragged down by their rough entrance into European competitions. Here, may be too much.
What viewers should expect is a close contest. Close means close, so options like taking the over if it’s set at 25 aren’t a bad idea no matter who wins. For the more niche props, both win pistol rounds at a rate of around 58%, while TL is a little more loose in the second round. TL converts the 1-0 into a 2-0 around 77%, but for s1mple and company it’s closer to 90%. The real money is in the round two break, meaning that a team has lost the pistol round but wins round two. Here, take Natus Vincere every time against Liquid. TL ranks 29 out of 30 in pulling off the second round force, while Na`Vi ranks fifth with a 33.9% chance of stealing round two.
Just don’t bet on any knife kills from Stewie, who has already proven he’s not great at s1mple’s vent knife trick.