IEM Oakland playoffs preview
IEM Oakland playoffs will begin on Saturday with the quarter-finals, where Immortals face NiP and SK are up against G2, while Astralis and FaZe are waiting ahead in the semi-finals. Here is our preview of the playoffs.
In the following preview, we'll take a look at the two quarter-final matches, as well as the other two teams waiting in the semi-finals, to explore their journey to playoffs, some of the storylines and the teams' chances at advancing further.
* player ratings are from IEM Oakland's group stage
|Marcelo "coldzera" David||1.22||Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||1.13|
|Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo||1.08||Richard "shox" Papillon||1.05|
|Epitacio "TACO" de Melo||1.06||vs.||Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||0.94|
|Fernando "fer" Alvarenga||1.00||Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro||0.83|
|Lincoln "fnx" Lau||0.96||Cédric "RpK" Guipouy||0.79|
The usual suspects shox and ScreaM were their heavy-hitters in two of their victories, against TYLOO (a 16-3 blowout) and Liquid (an overtime battle on Nuke). However, in the the Astralis win, it was SmithZz who carried the team, and overall pulled his own weight in the other two triumphs.
coldzera continued to put up good numbers consistently
coldzera was the team's rock as usual, putting up positive ratings in each match, while the other players each had their good moments at different times.
Since G2's summer run where they had a few great series with SK, their Train fell off while the Brazilians became almost untouchable on it. That will immediately put the French-speaking team on the back foot as it did at EPICENTER: Moscow, where they could only wave their goodbyes and watch SK choo-choo away as they got decimated 16-0. In the same series shox's squad were able to win Dust2, their best map and one that should get picked again, although FalleN and company seem to be more confident on it now.
As for the last map, it could go either way between the remaining three (Nuke, Overpass, Cobblestone). G2 played all three in the group stage and saw the most success on Nuke, which will likely result in SK getting rid of that map. That will leave G2 with a choice between Overpass and Cobblestone. After losing the latter at EPICENTER, this time G2 might opt for the former, especially due to the Immortals blowout on Cobble in groups.
The chances are definitely in the Brazilians' favor here. Train is a given (unless G2 surprise and take their chances on Mirage, which they never play), Dust2 is solid for both and SK are great on Overpass. I'd only give G2 a solid chance in the series if SK were to leave Nuke in for the last map for whatever reason.
|Ricardo "boltz" Prass||1.25||Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg||1.03|
|Henrique "HEN1" Teles||1.23||Richard "Xizt" Landström||0.98|
|Lucas "steel" Lopes||0.99||vs.||Adam "friberg" Friberg||0.97|
|João "felps" Vasconcellos||0.99||Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund||0.93|
|Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles||0.92||Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi||0.82|
Changing Wilton "zews" Prado for steel, Immortals went on to take first at Oakland's qualifier, iBUYPOWER Masters. At the main event, the Brazilian number two continued to surprise, defeating everyone but Astralis in mostly close encounters, aside from a 16-4 victory against G2.
NiP's debut after pyth's return to the team went quite well all things considered, as they defeated all three teams who eventually finished at the bottom, mousesports, Cloud9 and Heroic. However, their two losses to FaZe (Overpass) and SK (Cobblestone) raised red flags, as NiP could barely contest either team.
boltz and hen1 are players to watch in this quarter-final
While GeT_RiGhT's form had been great prior to IEM, he fell off in Oakland, and pyth is definitely not at his 100% just yet after months of inactivity. As it has been for the past few months, NiP's wins came with more or less the entire team showing up to play, rather than a select few.
The Swedes will remove one of Immortals' go-to maps, Mirage, while Immortals' first ban should be Nuke. That leaves the Brazilians open to a Dust2 pick from the Swedes. However, IMT showed accomplishment on it in the overtime battle with Astralis and that might sway NiP another way, such as Overpass. It's hard to say where Immortals will go with the rest of the veto process as they've just changed in-game leaders and now prefer different maps, though their Cache has been great in the last week and will be their most likely pick.
If Immortals keep up the pace and play as well as they have individually, the match-up will be quite hard for NiP, who will have a tough time assessing their opponents' true level on each map. Based on the teams' showing in groups, I'd give the win to the Brazilians, but all bets are off if GeT_RiGhT comes back to his form at the previous events.
|Nicolai "device" Reedtz||1.42|
|Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye||1.11|
|Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen||1.10|
|Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander||1.08|
|Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth||1.03|
At their second event with gla1ve, Astralis have looked amazing after their initial loss to G2 on Nuke. Three of their four wins were quite confident, while in the last one they had to defeat Immortals in overtime on Dust2.
device finished the group stage with an astounding 1.42 rating and never dipped below 1.00, and the rest of the team played very well too; no one lagged behind too much in their victories.
If we were to get an Astralis-G2 semi-final, it would be their first series in over nine months. The other possibility is also quite a rare one, as we have to look back to May (Pro League S3 Finals) to find the last best-of-three between SK and Astralis.
The new Astralis have been great in BO1's, let's see how they'll fare in a series
Despite the loss in groups, Astralis would surely prefer to play G2, who are simply not as sturdy as SK. However, the match-up with the Brazilians would not be a bad one for the Danes and it's the one I'm rooting for. Here's why:
The first vetoes would remove one of SK's favourite maps, Cobblestone, but not a great map for Astralis (Cache). SK won't pick Nuke, which Astralis just played for the first time on LAN, and other than that all maps should be good enough for both teams. You have to give FalleN and company an edge on Train, but Astralis are competent enough on it to at least give the Brazilians a run for their money. Overpass, Dust2 and Mirage could go either way, which should give us a great semi-final.
|Philip "aizy" Aistrup||1.31|
|Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey||1.24|
|Finn "karrigan" Andersen||1.19|
|Håvard "rain" Nygaard||1.19|
|Aleksi "allu" Jalli||1.13|
The European mixture clinched first place in their group, winning all of their matches, three of which in commanding fashion. Similarly to Astralis, no one ever put up a significantly bad performance, all of them played great overall.
FaZe played four different maps on their way to semi-finals, which would normally suggest they have a good map pool. However, when all of your players are on form, it becomes less important to pick the right maps against the right opponent. karrigan still did very well in the vetoes, altering his bans depending on the opponents' strengths.
karrigan unlocked a new level of FaZe
With that in mind, the most likely maps in NiP's case will be Nuke, Train/Overpass and Dust2. That looks very good for FaZe, as they showed some strength on Nuke while NiP have only recently started playing Train again.
The other possibility should come down to Dust2 and Cache, with the last one going anywhere between Overpass, Train and Mirage. Their only encounter in these lineups was at iBUYPOWER on Cache, which came down to overtime. It's hard to look at ELEAGUE results and take anything away from them, as both lineups have since changed and as mentioned above, Immortals prefer different maps now.
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