No events

Familiar Faces and Surprise Standouts to Clash in IEM Dallas Playoffs

Zakaria Almughrabi

The IEM Dallas Playoffs begin on May 31. Only six teams remain in the hunt for the final IEM trophy of the Counter-Strike 2 season. The Group Stage treated us to some amazing matches with results varying from expected to complete shocks. Here are some things you should be watching for at the IEM Dallas Playoffs.

IEM Dallas Playoffs G2

Image Copyright: Viola Schuldner, ESL FACEIT Group

9z Team Take Dallas by Storm

The biggest surprise of IEM Dallas so far has been 9z Team. The only South American qualifiers for the tournament were looked at as a potential first elimination. They faced off against the newly crowned number one team in the world, MOUZ, in their first match. Instead of the MOUZ show that everyone expected, 9z shut them down on Nuke, only allowing three rounds on MOUZ’s T side.

9z managed to hold their lead and took the best-of-one upset 13-9 over MOUZ. While that match was the biggest seeding upset possible, BO1 plus MOUZ coming off of a very busy schedule added a reason to doubt 9z. Their next match against Team Liquid only added to their resume.

Map one of Nuke was a back and forth affair. 9z showed fortitude and composure as they edged out a 16-13 overtime win. Despite losing map two, 9z came back in the tiebreaker of Dust II. The new map provided quite the show as 9z barely beat Liquid 13-11 to advance to the Playoffs.

If that didn’t establish 9z as a strong team here at IEM Dallas, their next match against Team Vitality certainly did. Against the third best team in the world, 9z confidently put them to bed on Dust II 13-9. Vitality’s Anubis was tight throughout. After two 6-6 halves, overtime was once again required for 9z. They didn’t falter and won it 16-14, guaranteeing a top four finish at an IEM event.

Stewie2K is Back, With G2?

G2’s in-game leader Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen is taking IEM Dallas off. Jake “Stewie2K” Yip was the stand-in that G2 chose. While Stewie had IGL’ed in the past, G2 tossed the responsibility to Nikola “NiKo” Kovac who also has IGL experience.

Still, missing a full-time IGL is going to be a big blow to a top team who is so used to the system. This was evident in G2’s second match against Team Vitality. They were simply outclassed on all fronts and fell 0-2 without breaking seven rounds on a map.

Even so, G2 still had a shot at qualifying for playoffs. They’d need to go through a brutal lower bracket though. First up was MOUZ. CS2’s top team had it rough against 9z and Complexity earlier and looked far from their peak. G2 took advantage and won their Inferno pick. MOUZ traded a one-sided Anubis, leading to a map three. As the score climbed higher, so did the pressure. When G2 needed a bailout, it was Stewie2K who made the play. From there, G2 shut the door on MOUZ and advanced to the final match of groups.

Team Liquid was the last squad standing in G2’s way. This match was crucial, as it would determine which North American players would make it to the IEM Dallas Playoffs. Liquid picked Dust II and barely managed to take it 13-11. G2 fired back on their staple Inferno 13-8 to tie it up. One final map would determine the last playoff team at IEM Dallas. Nuke came down to the wire. With the game on the line, G2 called an upper rush with Stewie2K leading the way.

G2 closed out the map 13-11 to claim a spot at the IEM Dallas Playoffs.

Spirit Show Up in Force

A lot of time has passed since Team Spirit made waves at IEM Katowice. Their lack of events combined with lackluster results at the ones they did attend has caused perception of their strength to wane. Once IEM  Dallas began, Spirit showed the Counter-Strike world why they were the talk of the town.

First was a 13-1 stomping of FlyQuest on Ancient. Then came a sweep of Natus Vincere, the defending Major champions. Spirit held them to just 12 total rounds over two maps. Last came FaZe Clan. Although this match was Spirit’s closest yet, they still managed to win without dropping a map.

Make no mistake, Spirit looks strong at IEM Dallas. The best part is that it’s not just Danil “donk” Kryshkovets doing donk things. Boris “magixx” Vorobyev and Dmitriy “Sh1ro” Sokolov are the second and third highest rated players through the Group Stage. And donk is still seventh overall, meaning that Spirit is firing on all cylinders.

By winning Group B, Spirit has a spot in the top four already on lock. They’ll face the winner of Team Vitality vs Heroic. Based on the Group Stage results, Spirit are the favorites to take the IEM Dallas trophy. Their biggest competition is a Team Vitality semifinal matchup and a potential FaZe rematch in Grand Finals. Of course, arena FaZe is a whole different beast, and Spirit will need to maintain this form to ensure that they lift their second IEM trophy of the season.