IEM Beijing kicks off this Thursday with eight teams from around the world looking to take home $125,000 dollars, and a win in the Intel Grand Slam season 3.
With teams split into two groups of four in a double-elimination bracket, this is going to create quite the story over the next few days, as there are many strong squads in attendance. Let’s start off the hype by giving you a rundown of the hottest storylines, so you can follow the action in much greater detail.
Is this the EG era?
Evil Geniuses is currently the most dominant team in the world. In the last month, they’ve won ESL One New York and StarSeries & i-League Season 8, and they did it against top teams as well. Heading into this tournament, they have to be the number one favourites, especially since other teams have so far not risen to the challenge. In recent developments, it’s only NiP and Fnatic, the two Swedish sides, that have given EG a run for their money. So far, Fnatic had a strong final StarSeries and won a tournament over the last four weeks. Meanwhile, NiP put an end to EG’s 3-month map streak. Neither of these teams is here at the moment, so heading in EG have no obvious adversary.
The only caveat to this is Astralis. Astralis is still considered one of the top teams in the world. However, the squad has major inconsistencies to fix before getting back to the top spot. The team did look strong coming off the Major but fell to EG at ESL One New York. Even in the most recent tournament, Blast Pro Series: Copenhagen, Astralis opened the tournament 0-2. What made things worse was their loss on Inferno, a map they are notoriously good on.
Understandably, the Blast Pro Series is primarily a Bo1 group stage, right until the final, so upsets are more likely. But still, if we hold Astralis to the calibre we expect from them, then the team will have to look stronger in this tournament. EG is in the other group, so there’s a chance for a good run on Astralis’ side, building to a hype rematch between the two squads.
Teams on the rise
FaZe Clan recently improved their outlook with the Blast Pro Series: Copenhagen victory. In recent months FaZe has made changes to their roster, bringing in Helvijs “broky“ Saukants and Marcelo “coldzera” David. The two have taken a little while to gel with the team, with the results over the last month being far from great. That was, right until this weekend, where FaZe showed the world that they can still hang at the top.
FaZe Clan’s real challenge at IEM Beijing is the early stages, as they share a group stage with Evil Geniuses and Team Vitality. Evil Geniuses is at the top of their game, as already contextualised, so that’s a tough challenge ahead. Although, the second spot is open to them and the rebounding Team Vitality.
Team Vitality, initially debuted Richard “shox” Papillon with success at DreamHack Malmo. The team finished second behind the revived Fnatic in one of the unlikeliest comeback stories post major. Although, the team has since fallen silent after facing defeat to FURIA, Fnatic, and Renegades at StarSeries Season 8. The battle between FaZe Clan and Team Vitality will definitely be interesting, determining which squad is having a better time working as a team.
Big returns for IEM Beijing
Finally, 100 Thieves has reentered CSGO after an absence from the scene. The organisation signed the former Renegades roster recently and will debut this new lineup at IEM Beijing. The 100 Thieves roster has seen a great run of form at StarSeries, and look revitalised, able to upset the teams we expect to see at the top. If recent history is anything to go by, we can take Evil Geniuses as an example of how recently signed perform at big events. EG signed the NRG roster mere days before ESL One New York. That lineup then went onto win the tournament. Perhaps the new organisation will give the Australian roster the mental boost they need to win the whole thing.