IEM Sydney has come to a close, and boy is there a lot to talk about. Sydney had one of the more expansive formats we’ve seen in a while, which means lots of valuable, on LAN tape to go through. Unfortunately the event was marred to some degree by the amount of standins, crippling BIG and FaZe, two teams that would otherwise be contending for the title. The event still concluded in exciting fashion, with Liquid pulling off their first big international win with this lineup.

“Trophy" Takeaways

NRG Still Aren’t Ready

NRG have been on the cusp for months now. IEM Katowice was supposed to be their coming out party, the event that truly launched them into tier one. Unfortunately, and to the disappointment of everyone playing pick’em, they ended up going out dead last in the New Legends stage, a tailspin which ended with all-star free agent Tarik being added to the roster, to replace Fugly.

Now, we thought, surely they can get over the hump. Tarik combined with Ethan and CeRq? They had the firepower to be the second best team in NA by a mile, and maybe even enough juice to jostle with Liquid for the top spot.

Sadly, it seems as though that still isn’t the case. In their first big LAN since StarSeries in early April, NRG again fell short to Fnatic, the same team that knocked them out in 3rd/4th in Shanghai. While Brehze and Ethan again had excellent tournaments statistically putting up top five numbers at the event, they crumbled in playoffs, rolling over to the Swedes. Tarik was added to this team to be the closer, and to push them over the top in those exact scenarios. He had an ADR of 70, and a team best +1 K/D difference.

I still have high hopes for this roster, although I’m not sure how patient the org is willing to be. NRG has money, and they’ve shown no fear in taking big swings, especially with young foreign talent. Who knows what this roster might look like in six months?

Fnatic Are so Close

On their way to Grands, Fnatic beat Heroic, Grayhound, Chiefs, NiP, and NRG. They then proceeded to push Liquid to the absolute limit, taking two maps in an incredibly close best of five. This is about as good as it could get for Fnatic right now, pushing the consensus number two team in the world to five maps. The Swedes are on the tail end of a long rebuild, after blowing up one of the most accomplished cores in CS history. This is their second consecutive second place finish at a big event, losing a deceptively close 0-3 to Na’Vi at StarSeries in Shanghai.

Fnatic were another team with a disappointing finish in Katowice, but it seems as though they have rallied back to put themselves securely in the top five conversation.

The Mousesports Experiment Looks Good

Mousesports are one of the most potent teams in Counter Strike right now. Built around veteran leader Karrigan, their cup overrunneth with young star talent, which is then backed up by one of the most solid players in CS, chrisj. They were sent to the losers bracket early at this event, where they 2-0’d BOOT, Renegades, and BIG to make playoffs.

Once they reached the playoff bracket, they were defeated 0-2 by MIBR, in the closest map loss we saw in Sydney. Putting up 19 rounds on MIBR is nothing to sneeze at, and Mouz going out in Quarters might actually be good for them. Reminiscent of Miami’s loss to Dallas in the 2011 NBA finals, this could help this young core galvanize, and trust in Karrigan to lead them to victory.

Nip Are Still Alive

NiP’s results at this tournament are encouraging. They started the tournament off with a shaky win over eUnited, but followed it up with a dominant series win over Renegades, then a close 0-2 loss to Liquid to give them a quarter finals berth. Once in the playoffs, NiP played Fnatic to a 1-2 loss in a series that became an instant classic. The series concluded with a triple overtime game and a double overtime game, which is about as close as a best of three can get. If you haven’t seen the game, I highly recommend it.

The biggest point of interest for NiP, besides f0rest’s apparent return to form, was how badly dennis played in their big best of three against Fnatic. Rez and f0rest are playing tier one Counter Strike right now, and they just need a little help to turn NiP back into a championship caliber roster. Dennis has a championship caliber pedigree, he was one of the best players on Fnatic when they had their monster run. If he can get himself into form again, NiP could quickly become a real threat to teams like Liquid and Astralis.

BIG Keeps Getting Unlucky

It’s a shame that BIG ended up playing with a stand in. This is a team with near boundless potential, as they have one of the best IGLs over the past three years, albeit an unaccomplished one, combined with one of the better fraggers from the past three years, although he’s also pretty unaccomplished. (Now that I write it out, I see how that could be sort of a problem.)

In theory, they should compliment each other well, with gob b unlocking XANTARES as the star fragger he should be. But it feels as though, through a combination of language barrier, acclimation time, and visa problems, that we have yet to see BIG at full strength.

Sydney was an exciting event, and it was the only big international LAN we are going to have for the next little while. All the upcoming tournaments in the scene are smaller LANs, like the cs_summit, and BLAST Pro. But don’t worry, plenty of money to be made on them too, especially by following along with us, and checking out our how to bet on CSGO blog post.

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