On November 21-22, we will see eight teams competing for $100,000 in San Jose, California. The tournament features a single elimination, best of three bracket as pictured below.
Natus Vincere vs. Luminosity Gaming
Natus Vincere (Seized,Edward,GuardiaN,Flamie,Zeus)
Na’Vi enter this tournament after reaching their first Major final. Beating Ninjas in Pyjamas convincingly in the semifinals (16-3,16-8) they had to play EnVyUs in the final and fell short of taking the title. While NaVi’s map pick Train was close, the French team managed to edge out the win and drove home the series easily on their home map Cobblestone (16-14, 16-5). At CEVO Season 8 LAN Finals Na’Vi looked burnt out, losing on two maps against Mousesports and on three against Titan. If Na’Vi want to win this tournament, star players GuardiaN and Flamie have to show top performances.
Luminosity Gaming (FalleN,steel,coldzera,boltz,fer)
After marking their third consecutive Top 8 finish at the last major, Luminosity come into this LAN looking to prove themselves as a top 10 team. After losing against both Mousesports and Titan at CEVO Finals they have shown mediocre results at North America’s iBuyPower Cup, falling to a later tournament champions Cloud9. At RGN Pro Series Luminosity went out of the tournament after losses to Liquid and Renegades. While Luminosity are crowned “Upset-kings”, winning many Best of one games against top teams, their problem remains best of three series where they often have problems closing series out.
The last time Na’Vi and Luminosity met at the major, Na’Vi managed to clench the win in a close series on Dust II and Overpass (16-14,16-13). Since then, both teams have shown mediocre results at attented LAN’s, not living up to expectations. A lot of the outcome of this series hinges on the AWP duel between Na’Vi’s GuardiaN and Luminosity’s FalleN. If GuardiaN is allowed to open up sites with his aggressive entry style of AWPing Luminosity will have troubles winning this match.
Team SoloMid vs. Cloud9
Team SoloMid (Xyp9x,Karrigan,Dupreeh,Device,cajunb)
Team SoloMid were many peoples favourite to win the last major, Cluj-Napoca. After 5 consecutive top two finishes, their performance at the major was disappointing. Meeting their biggest Major Nemesis in the quarterfinal, Ninjas in Pyjamas, an underperforming TSM lost 16-10 and 16-8 against the overperforming swedish team. Team SoloMid’s biggest strength might be their incredible map pool. At PGL Championship Series LAN Finals, they won two series against Virtus.pro on the polish teams best maps, Train, Overpass and Inferno. At Counter Pit League they won the finals 2-0 against EnVyUs on Dust II and Cache, two of EnVy’s best maps. TSM have shown they are capable to win on any map against any team.
After winning iBuyPower Cup and RGN Pro Series it is hard to debate Cloud9 as the best North American Counter Strike team. They seem to have broken out of their recent slump which included six losses in a row in the ESL ESEA Online League, placing only 6th and failing to make the LAN Playoffs. Star players Shroud, Skadoodle and n0thing need to perform like they did at iBP Cup and RGN Pro Series if they want to challenge TSM in this series.
With TSM’s incredibly strong map pool it will be hard for Cloud9 to win this series. One of Cloud9’s stronger maps, Cobblestone is also the only map TSM is weak on and is their constant ban. If the north american team wants to make the semifinals they will need to play their best counter strike in a while, and even if they manage to do that, TSM still have the advantage on most maps.
Virtus.pro vs. Team Liquid
The polish team seems to be in good form, taking first place at the CEVO Season 8 LAN Finals while only dropping one map and winning the final convincingly against mousesports. Their major performance left much to be desired, losing 0-2 to a strong G2. With the recent announcement that Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski will not be playing with the team in San Jose because of a problem with his right eye, the standin of Micha? “MICHU” Müller makes the already inconsistent VP even more unpredictable.
Team Liquid (Hiko,Fugly,Elige,Nitr0,Adren)
Team Liquid is one of the teams with more recent roster moves, dropping Kyle “flowsicK” Mendez for Spencer “Hiko” Martin earlier this year in September, the team has shown increasingly good results. Qualifying for their first major, Liquid got rewarded by the Group of Death including Ninjas in Pyjamas, Virtus.pro and Titan. Their first match against Virtus.pro looked good for the North American Team, but Virtus.pro managed to take the win in overtime. Losing their second match against Ninjas in Pyjamas 11:16 marked the end of Liquid’s first Major. At CEVO Season 8 Finals Liquid lost two series against Dignitas and Conquest and at the iBuyPower Cup they fell against Cloud9 in overtime of the third map. Losses against Cloud9 and Renegades at RGN Pro SeriesTeam Liquid is one of the teams battling for the title of best North American team alongside CLG and Cloud9 and a good showing at this LAN might overshadow their losses at iBuyPower Cup and RGN Pro Series.
The last time these two teams met was at Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca, where Virtus.pro managed to win in Overtime on Cobblestone (19-15). When they played each other at PGL Season 1 Finals, Virtus.pro took the series 2-0, although Overpass was close at 16-14. In all of these games polish player Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski was at the top of the scoreboard with 34,33 and 24 frags. Him not playing at IEM San Jose makes for the best odds Liquid will ever get against Virtus.pro, however the polish team is still favoured to take the series.
G2 Esports vs. Counter Logic Gaming
G2 Esports (rain,Maikelele,fox,(aizy),jkaem)
G2 come into this tournament after their most impressive result thus far, placing Top four at the major and only missing one round to defeat later champions EnVyUs in the semifinals. Many consider their showing at the major an overperformance, carried on the shoulders of a beasting jkaem and impressive sniper play from portugese star fox. After recent roster moves Dennis “dennis” Edman left the team to replace Markus “pronax” Wallsten in Fnatic, and G2 picked up Philip “aizy” Aistrup from Dignitas. Adding even more firepower to an already stacked line-up, Aizy is set up to shine in the loose strategic calling environment of G2.
Counter Logic Gaming (Hazed,Cutler,JDM64,FNS,Tarik)
After Team EnVyUs announced that they will withdraw from IEM San Jose, CLG was chosen as the team to replace them. At iBuyPower Cup the north american team failed to make the finals after losing to Team Liquid in the semifinals and at RGN Pro Series they went out in the Group Stage with losses to Renegades and Enemy. CLG have shown that they are capable of taking maps off of the top european teams in the past, however they will need to play a lot better than the team that was at iBuyPower Cup and RGN Pro Series if they want to win this match.
With their strong showing at the Major and the recent addition of Aizy to an already strong roster, G2 are the likely winners. CLG haven’t shown impressive results lately and it is hard to imagine a scenario where they could gain the upper edge over G2.