In June of 2017, ESL and Intel have announced their partnership in a new challenge, the Intel Grand Slam. In this ongoing challenge, which includes ESL and DreamHack events with a prize purse of $200,000 or more, the first team to reach four tournament victories is rewarded an extra $1,000,000 in cash.
It’s important to note: once a team wins its first tournament, it now has to win three more titles in the following nine events that are part of the circuit. If they are unsuccessful within said timeframe, their title score gets reset, and the race starts anew.
To spice things up, a spoils bonus of $100,000 will be rewarded to the team that prevents a side from successfully completing the challenge.
The Three Victors
Coming into IEM Oakland, three teams are Intel Grand Slam titleholders: SK, G2 and FaZe. But the premise for the trio couldn’t be different.
When FalleN’s boys won ESL One Cologne in July, the first tourney of the Grand Slam circuit, the Brazilians looked unstoppable. Cesar’s proclamation “Veni, vidi, vici”, very much applied to the team during those weeks, as they came to Europe, saw three titles, and conquered all of them.
Now? It’s a different story entirely. After a series of poor LAN performances, and their worst showing all year at the recent ELEAGUE event, SK have announced a roster move: boltz will take felp’s place. In Oakland however, the shuffle will not be in effect yet, and both players will compete with their current orgs.
Knowing a player shuffle looms ahead, is never easy on a team’s mentality. How coldzera & Co. deal with this mental hurdle, will immensely effect their chances to grab a second win in the race to the Grand Slam – they only have seven tournaments left to reach four titles, the clock is ticking!
Then there’s G2, who are unable to escape the predicament of inconsistency. When firing on all cylinders, they surpass even FaZe in individual ability. Nobody puts up resistance against the French steam roller. Gold medals at the EPL Season 5 finals and DreamHack Masters Malmö, where they entered the Grand Slam race, are prime examples.
But unfortunately, group stage exits are also daily fare for shox’s boys. Anything from trophy to tragedy is possible for the Frenchmen at IEM Oakland. Winning would mean eight tournaments to complete the Grand Slam.
Finally, the hard-hitting FaZe Clan. Even with Oakland still a month away, the European mix of all-stars have to be considered the favorites to take the lead. Karrigan’s troupe has won 15 consecutive maps on LAN, which is simply mind boggling, considering they played several BO3s versus top-ten opposition. Another tourney without a map loss would make this a feat of historical proportions.
It’s a pleasure to watch the new FaZe play. Everything seems so smooth under karrigan’s lead, and never has that beautiful headshot-sound so frequently echoed through the servers.
See for yourself - CLINK, CLINK, CLINK
It’s still too early to call, but if NiKo, olof, rain, GuardiaN and karrigan keep up the pace, we could very well be witnessing the beginning of a new CS:GO dynasty, and another win towards the Grand Slam in Oakland seems quite likely at this point.
Of course, we shall not forget about all the other teams that will descent upon Oakland to fight for glory, a prize purse of $300,000 and to join the race for the Intel Grand Slam.
Only Fnatic and North are missing from the world’s top-ten ranked teams. Astralis, Cloud9, Ninjas in Pyjamas, major winners Gambit, EnVyUs, Immortals, Team Liquid, The Mongolz and OpTic for the first time on LAN with their new squad, will all face off against one another, with equal chances of playing for the win!
The Intel Grand Slam means more than just extra cash
The Intel Grand Slam is the most difficult trophy to win in today’s Counter-Strike landscape. And difficulty is what the mindset of any top professional seeks, craves even. At the end of the day, how difficult a feat is to achieve, is what separates the good players from the greats.
It could be years before a team successfully completes the Grand Slam. And when it happens, the $1,000,000 will be nice, but the real difference-maker for the titleholders will be that it’s a testament of greatness!
Be part of IEM Oakland this November
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.