Stories to Watch at the IEM Dallas Playoffs
The IEM Dallas Playoffs for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are set to start on June 3rd. The Group Stage played out predictably overall, leaving the six best teams at the event to battle it out. A $250,000 prize pool is up for grabs, as well as ESL Pro Tour and BLAST Premier circuit points. So, who has the best shot at running through the IEM Dallas Playoffs?
ENCE Succeed with a Stand-in
ENCE was one of the teams who came into IEM Dallas with complications. Star rifler Lotan “Spinx” Giladi was not able to make the trip to the United States due to visa issues. Spinx was at the center of ENCE’s recent rise to the top level of the CS:GO scene, frequently putting up amazing stat lines comparable to the best players in the world.
When the news broke that Spinx wouldn’t be at IEM Dallas, many wondered how it would affect ENCE’s overall power level. Obviously, the team has to be strong across the board to consistently find high placements at top tier events, but losing such a driving force is never easy to fix. The substitute that ENCE chose is Polish rifler Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski.
Snax is most known for his time winning championships with Virtus.pro in the mid-2010’s. While he was undoubtedly a fantastic player in his prime, it’s been quite a while since Snax was on a top-level team competing for trophies. It would seem that his goal this IEM Dallas was to turn back the clock. In the Group A finals against FaZe Clan, Snax ended with a 67-51 K-D, 89.7 ADR, and a 1.27 rating over three maps.
By earning first place in Group A over the Major champions, ENCE has landed themselves a spot in the IEM Dallas semifinals. Only one win stands between them and a second Grand Finals appearance in 2022. The CS:GO scene knows all too well from FaZe’s win at IEM Katowice that you can win titles even with a stand-in. Will ENCE be able to continue that trend?
BIG Make the Most of It
Ninjas in Pyjamas came into IEM Dallas without their most important piece in Hampus “hampus” Poser. There are few players in Counter-Strike that provide more for a team than hampus does for NiP, so failing to qualify for playoffs isn’t a surprise. The highest seeded team in the bottom half of Group B was NiP. This meant that the door swung wide open for anyone to claim a playoff berth.
The team that managed to do that was BIG. BIG weren’t originally supposed to be playing in IEM Dallas, falling just short in the European Qualifier. When multiple teams couldn’t make it to Dallas due to either visa or COVID issues, BIG were called up as replacements.
Their opening BO1 against a battered NiP ended in a convincing 16-10 win on Ancient. BIG then swept MIBR, a team who was also forced to call in a stand-in, and 2-0’d them with a double overtime on Mirage. At this point, BIG had earned top two finish in Group B and a playoff spot. However, few people expected them to come out swinging against favorites FURIA Esports. BIG stomped their Nuke pick, understandably lost on FURIA’s Vertigo, then closed out convincingly on the tiebreaker map of Mirage.
BIG has gone from not even attending IEM Dallas to securing a top four finish at the event. While they still aren’t considered title contenders, its not outside the realm of possibility that BIG put up a strong fight in their semifinal matchup. If the stars align, they may even find themselves on the Grand Finals stage.
FaZe Slightly Stumble, Look to Bounce Back
FaZe Clan were the overwhelming favorites to win IEM Dallas coming into the event. They solidified themselves as the best CS:GO team at PGL Major Antwerp and tournaments prior. The field is also notably weaker this time around, making for an easier road to the trophy. The main team looking to contest FaZe was ENCE, and contest they did.
The finals of Group A was a rematch of the ESL Pro League S15 Grand Finals. While FaZe won that one, ENCE flipped the script at IEM Dallas by beating FaZe on their own Ancient pick before crushing them on Nuke 16-8. ENCE were overwhelmingly the stronger side on that day, prompting questions about the state of both teams.
One loss early in the event is nothing to be too worried over for FaZe. After all, they lost a BO1 to ENCE in the Legends Stage at PGL Major Antwerp before going on to win the whole thing. That said, FaZe need to buckle down and make sure they don’t have an off day for the rest of the tournament. They’ll be starting in the quarterfinals as Group A’s second seed. To get their third notch in their Intel Grand Slam belt, FaZe will need to win three straight matches, including a potential Grand Finals rematch against ENCE.
G2 Hunt for Redemption
G2 Esports has been a team struggling to adjust to their new roster for the majority of the year so far. They’ve had high highs and low lows, but the potential of this team has always been there. With a more wide-open field at IEM Dallas, G2 wanted to make sure to perform well and gain some momentum here.
Their second match against ENCE ended in a 0-2 loss, but the match was very close. G2’s Dust2 pick started off terribly for them, resulting in ENCE taking a 14-6 lead. G2 then nearly won 9 of ten rounds in a row to make a comeback, but fell just short of overtime. Nuke also ended in a 16-14 for ENCE, as G2 ran out of gas on their second half T side after being up 13-10.
While G2 barely missed a top two seed in Group A, they fought back through the Lower Bracket with wins over Astralis and Team Vitality to earn the final playoff berth. G2 have the hardest route through playoffs by far, with a round one matchup against FURIA and ENCE waiting in the semis. If this international roster wants to make a run, they’ll need to show their best form ever.
The IEM Dallas Playoffs begin on June 3rd at 2pm ET / 11am PT. The quarterfinals matchups are:
FURIA Esports vs G2 Esports
FaZe Clan vs Cloud9