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IEM Oakland kicks off in one week. Check out our predictions for the first round match-ups of group B

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IEM Oakland will use a best-of-one round robin format for two groups of six teams each. This means, teams in the same group face one another once. The two group winners move on to the semifinals right away, the second and third ranked teams play quarters first to determine the remaining two semi-finalists.

The playoffs will take place at the Oracle Arena and will use a BO3 format all the way to the grand finale, where we will then be gifted BO5 carnage.

Here are our groups:

  • Group A: Ninjas in Pyjamas, Astralis, ENVYUS, SK GAMING, Cloud9, The MongolZ
  • Group B: G2, FaZe Clan, OpTic, Gambit, Team Liquid, Immortals

Here are the first round match-ups for Group B:

G2 vs. FaZe

Clash of the super teams, what a way to kick off Group B!

FaZe has been THE team of recent months. The always quick-to-judge community immediately praised the Euro-mix to the skies and predicted the era of karrigan & Co. Admittedly, their run of two straight gold medals at ESL One New York and ELEAGUE CS:GO 2017 with 15 straight map wins was impressive to say the least. But then EPICENTER rolled around, and almost all of FaZe’s streaks ended. Their first map loss on LAN against Gambit. Their clean slates on Train, Overpass, Mirage, Cobblestone and Inferno, tainted. Their undefeated run in BO3 series ended against SK, before they were kicked out of the tournament altogether by a revived Virtus.Pro.

Now, none of this of course means FaZe now sucks. They still enter Oakland as one of the favorites, alongside SK and Astralis. It just allows us to assess their actual strength in a more realistic manner. We won’t see FaZe simply run over tier-one opposition as if it were nothing. The fact still remains that, at least in CS:GO, no single team ever bore as much individual talent as this FaZe squad.

EPICENTER was also once again interesting regarding G2. An utterly dominant group stage followed by immediate playoff elimination for the, at least perceived, hundredth time. With the French brilliancy seems to always be followed by disenchantment, the age-old saga of inconsistency shox and his boys are plagued by. They have the ability to flat out run over the field in Oakland, or drop out in groups without winning a map. We’ll have to wait and see which version of the squad shows up.

Speaking of versions, we should talk about bodyy. He’s been performing as the absolute best version of himself. He joined G2 at the beginning of the year as a relatively unknown player and has since evolved into an immovable pillar, frequently outperforming some of his supposedly stronger teammates.

These two rosters have never met on LAN and the BO2 series they played in EPL went 2-0 in FaZe’s favour. I can’t wait to see the two clash. I mean, kennyS vs. GuardiaN, what more can a CS fan ask for! I give FaZe a slight edge in this match-up, but anything can happen.

Three keys to victory:

G2:

  • kennyS wins AWP battle
  • An on-point shox to match FaZe’s firepower
  • Don’t wreck own economy with force buys

FaZe:

  • GuardiaN wins AWP battle
  • Avoid Nuke
  • Take advantage of pistol round ingenuity & individual ability

OpTic vs. Gambit

We’ve only had the pleasure of seeing OpTic play on LAN once since the team’s inception at the European Minor two weeks ago. They came in third and failed to make it to the Boston qualifier, which has to be devastating for the team.

Because of friberg & Co.’s strong performances in the North American EPL, where they occupy the second place, a lot of hype surrounded the team. But a reality check occurred at the Minor qualifier and put things into perspective. We all know competition is a bit tougher in Europe, and some of the supposedly weaker European teams pose a significantly bigger threat than their counterparts in NA. OpTic had to find that out the hard way.

While it’s great to see this team, consisting of fan-favorites through and through, do well in EPL, their road to international elite level is long and gruelling. It’s a road most teams get lost on before ever making it to the end. OpTic have the ability to endure, but character will decide over their fate. Oakland comes in at the right moment for them to redeem the Minor slip-up.

Right after winning the Major, Gambit was hit by misfortune when Zeus announced his departure from the team. A lot of the team’s success was attributed to his IGLing abilities and if we look at the rosters success since Zeus’ exit, we cannot help but think there’s at least some truth to it.

Granted, Gambit hasn’t been very active since the gold medal in Krakow. And at EPICENTER two weeks ago they showed a solid performance despite getting knocked out in groups. Against both FaZe and VP they put up a heck of a fight, and both series could’ve gone the way of the Kazakhs.

In the skill department, fitch is an upgrade to Zeus. H0bbit has emerged as a true star of the scene in 2017. And Dosia’s IGL abilities were convincing at EPICENTER, which makes me believe that Gambit will again be the threat they were in Krakow. In this match-up against OpTic, I certainly see them as the favorites. But also regarding IEM Oakland, they are capable of doing serious damage, even the title is realistic.

The three keys to victory:

OpTic:

  • Avoid Mirage
  • Preparation, anti-stratting by ImAPet
  •  All players individually on point

Gambit:

  • Play with confidence
  • Take aim duels
  • Exploit OpTic’s tactical weaknesses

Liquid vs. Immortals

Liquid are currently looking stronger than ever before, and it has a lot to do with their one-two punch, ELiGE and Twistzz. ELiGE of course has been contending for top NA player for a while now, but Twistzz was a rather unknown quantity before he joined the squad.

Now the two form the most deadly duo North America has to offer. The teams’ success relies a lot on those two individuals, and especially instrumental when facing the stronger European sides. But we shouldn’t discredit the other players. Because the team as a whole has improved significantly since the summer break. Many were struck by surprise when nitr0 took over IGL duties, since stanislaw was regarded the best leader in NA. But the switch bears fruit, especially stan profits in regards to his individual level of play.

In the summer, Liquid had an impressive run with three second places in a row DreamHack Malmö, ESG Tour Mykonos and ESL One New York. And they will also go to the Boston Major qualifier after an successful showing at the Minor. Liquid should be a threat to anyone at IEM Oakland. A final appearance and even the title are within reach, though unlikely.

What turmoil Immortals have been through since the major in Krakow. After their incredible run into the grand finals, the team completely broke apart. Only steel remains from that roster. HEN1, LUCAS1, kNg have teamed up with fnx again, and they are currently looking for an org.

You can say what you will about them, but they are elite level skilled. Replacing them with Brazilian players equal in skill will be difficult. Immortals are attempting to rebuild with horvy, destinyy, shz and zqk.

Reaching the same heights they did with the previous roster should prove extremely difficult, if not impossible. Immortals dropped off immensely in EPL as well, and the teams in Oakland will be too much to handle at such an early stage of the rebuild. I think this match against Liquid be no exception.

The three keys to victory:

Liquid:

  • Don’t underestimate
  • Have on-two punch in full effect
  • Solid, standard Counter-Strike

Immortals:

  • Let Brazilian passion take over
  • Rely on steel’s calls
  • Win crucial pistol and fourth rounds

Be part of IEM Oakland next week!

The world’s best teams are coming to IEM Oakland to compete for a first place prize of $125,000 and to enter into the Intel Grand Slam race.

Nothing beats the unforgettable experience of watching the world’s best teams compete live in a legendary stadium. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity and join us at the Oracle Arena on November 18-19 - secure yourself a ticket today! And don’t forget to follow IEM on both Twitter and Facebook for further tournament updates.