What we learned from IEM Oakland

Dust has settled at IEM Oakland with NiP clinching the trophy and $128,000 in prizemoney after defeating SK in the grand final. Here's what we learned from the event which took place in Northern California from November 16-20.

Recap

IEM Oakland began with a round-robin, best-of-one group stage. Astralis and FaZe surprised by clinching their semi-final spots by placing first in their respective groups.

Immortals also managed a surprising run, defeating everyone in Group A apart from Astralis after numerous close matches, and G2 placed third. In Group B, Heroic took maps off mousesports and SK and had a solid chance to advance, but a loss Cloud9 at the end sent them below the top three.

In the quarter-finals, where second and third-placed teams met, NiP grabbed a confident victory against Immortals, while SK bested G2 quite comfortably, only dropping Nuke.


NiP are so far the only team to have won two big events since the off-season

Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's team started vetoing Nuke instead of Cache after the quarter-finals and defeated Astralis with the Danes taking SK to their limit on their signature map, Train, and Mirage.

On the other side, NiP passed FaZe in overtime on Nuke before Train went the other way in commanding fashion. The decider was Overpass, which Finn "karrigan" Andersen and company had previously won against the Swedes in groups, though this time it was NiP who took the victory in another close encounter.

The grand final saw SK taking Train with ease, while NiP won Cache after the Brazilians made a valiant effort on the map they stopped playing in April. On Cobblestone, NiP came back from a 14-12 deficit to clinch their second trophy in three months, with Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg adding another MVP award to his resumé.

Best maps

Round-robin group stage
Brazil Immortals 16-14  United States Liquid Cache  
CIS Natus Vincere  15-19 Brazil Immortals Mirage  
United States Liquid 17-19 France G2 Nuke  
United States Cloud9 17-19 Europe FaZe Mirage  
Denmark Heroic 16-13 Brazil SK Cobblestone   



   
Playoffs
Brazil SK 16-14 Denmark Astralis Train Semi-finals (Map 1)
Sweden NiP 19-15 Europe FaZe Nuke Semi-finals (Map 1)
Sweden NiP 16-14 Brazil SK Cache Grand final (Map 2)
Sweden NiP 16-14 Brazil SK Cobblestone Grand final (Map 3)

What have we learned from IEM Oakland?

The $300,000 event brought us some new storylines and lessons as to where the teams stand and how some of the new lineups progressed. Here are the main takeaways:

NiP are back in full force

After Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi went inactive for four months, NiP overcame their slump with Mikail "Maikelele" Bill, winning StarSeries Season 2, placing 3rd-4th at Pro League, and reaching playoffs at ELEAGUE.

That must have been a bittersweet period for the 23-year-old, who could only watch as his team improved on their results from early summer. It also put a lot of pressure on him at his first event back, especially due to many calling for Maikelele to stay with NiP.

However, after a so-so showing in groups, pyth held his own as he made a big impact in the playoffs, especially during the close maps against FaZe and SK, helping NiP get their first title with him since DreamHack Masters Malmö.

In their map wins, the Swedes rarely had someone slacking in the fragging department, which goes on to show how important it is nowadays for everyone to pull their own weight. Even when one of the players did have an off map, he made up for it within the series, as was the case with Adam "friberg" Friberg in the grand final for example. 

 NiP K - D +/- ADR Rating 2.0
Sweden Patrik 'f0rest' Lindbergf0rest 203 - 153 +50 84.6 1.26
Sweden Adam 'friberg' Fribergfriberg 199 - 156 +43 87.6 1.25
Sweden Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvipyth 179 - 154 +25 76.8 1.19
Sweden Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' AlesundGeT_RiGhT 176 - 150 +26 75.9 1.14
Sweden Richard 'Xizt' LandströmXizt 174 - 152 +22 78.5 1.11

NiP's statistics in map wins at IEM Oakland 

NiP's statistics in map wins at IEM Oakland 

The karrigan switch benefited both Astralis and FaZe

Shortly after FaZe signed karrigan, the European mixture finally got an experienced in-game leader to compliment their mechanical abilities.

They immediately improved on their results despite next to no practice, placing second in their group at ELEAGUE. Pro League Finals, which took place the following weekend, saw them exiting a tough group in 4th place with losses to NiP, SK and Cloud9.

Oakland had a very similar group, but the time FaZe had to finally get some practice in, about three weeks of it, made a world of difference. On top of that, everyone was playing very well in groups, including karrigan who was also one of the best players of the NiP semi-final. In fact, his 1.14 rating at the event was his best in over a year.


karrigan helped another team get over the hump

Astralis also got their chance to show what the change brought to the team. Similarly to FaZe, the Danes played great in groups to finish first with four wins and one loss and showed up to play in the semi-finals as well.

Despite Nicolai "device" Reedtz's poor performance in the semis, Astralis were the closest anyone has got to taking Train off SK on LAN in six months and took Mirage to double digits as well. Who knows what could have happened if he carried at least some of his amazing form from groups over to playoffs. 

Both teams showed they can play with the best teams in the world. If they keep improving, we could see some titles going their way very soon.

Na`Vi's problems continue

Since Natus Vincere's triumph at ESL One New York and a solid 3rd-4th at EPICENTER: Moscow, Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács's squad has been but a shadow of themselves, exiting ELEAGUE and now IEM Oakland in the group stage.

In Atlanta, Na`Vi had to play SK twice and ended up on Train both times. That is a tall order for any team right now, so the disappointing result there was understandable, especially due to the veto format in best-of-one's (Na`Vi only got two vetoes in the opener, while SK had three) and the teams sharing their instant ban in Cache.

Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev's team has mostly been criticized for their poor map pool lately, as both Cache and Cobblestone are out of the question now and Dust2 isn't very good for them either, but at IEM Oakland they played poorly on all of the other four maps as well.


It's impossible to tame s1mple, Na`Vi should give in to his playstyle

In the opener, they lost Nuke badly to Liquid after a very poor CT side. TYLOO then took them to 30 rounds on Overpass, Na`Vi's best map by far, Astralis put up 12 rounds on the T side of Train against them, and Immortals won Mirage in overtime. The issue isn't just the map pool, there's something else wrong with the Ukraine-based squad.

The first thing to point at is the leadership, which was transferred to Denis "seized" Kostin due to coaching limitations. While their playstyle isn't as hardcore as it used to be, they still keep their slow approach, which isn't easy to do for an inexperienced in-game leader. It might be time for Na`Vi to free it up and let the players off their chains a little more. They've done that with s1mple, probably because he's too hard to tame and thrives in that system, but he often causes Natus Vincere to lose important rounds. It's impossible to create a playstyle that is not around an impulsive player like s1mple, so it could be good if some of the others joined him to help in his crazy endeavors.

Such a playstyle is impossible to control fully by definition, but it should work better than letting only s1mple do as he likes while the others keep the former system. Over time, they'll learn how to compliment each other better and become more stable.

Playing two matches at a time allows for better scheduling

Due to the format and a limited amount of time, two matches at a time were played in the group stage of IEM Oakland. While some may argue against it due to missing some of the matches, it's much more likely that an interesting match is being played when you do tune in.

This setup allows for the entire group to be played in one day, which is great for viewers. It's much easier to keep track of the results and the storylines when the group doesn't span across multiple days (as it usually does nowadays), especially in the round-robin format. 

For the teams, it's somewhat of a double-edged blade. They don't have as much time to prepare for the upcoming matches, but in the end, everyone has the same conditions as long as some of them don't have to play all of their matches in a row. On the other hand, playing all matches in one day significantly cuts down the time needed to set up and helps with the warmup.

In this case, all teams had a day off thanks to the schedule. They could spend it practicing in the backstage area and watching the other group play out, which can also be very helpful during tournaments.

You can follow HLTV.org's Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter

Slovakia Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Age:
28
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1450
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
Sweden Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvi
Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvi
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
734
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.13
Brazil Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1154
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.11
Denmark Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
1403
KPR:
0.79
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.13
Sweden Adam 'friberg' Friberg
Adam 'friberg' Friberg
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
1509
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.16
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
1538
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
Russia Denis 'seized' Kostin
Denis 'seized' Kostin
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
1224
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Sweden Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
956
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.14
Sweden Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1620
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
Ukraine Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.23
Maps played:
1060
KPR:
0.85
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.10
I learned that nip = top1
2016-11-23 22:30
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a sport is “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
2016-11-23 22:30
ty dude i needed this for my exam
2016-11-23 22:31
Glad to help :D
2016-11-23 22:32
Does the Oxford Dictionary define 'u' as a shorthand for 'you'? So... In that case, it's not, right? Since when did language become based on dictionaries and not the other way around...
2016-11-23 22:39
+1 +1 +1 Bachelor of Linguistics and I couldn't have put this better
2016-11-23 23:08
What a waste of 3 years
2016-11-24 12:44
Technically only two of the years were wasted, the psychology minor cut a year off my psychology degree.
2016-11-24 19:30
oh shit :o
2016-11-24 08:39
VIDEO-GAME
2016-11-23 23:24
+1
2016-11-23 22:34
We learned Navi can still drop out earlier than they should.
2016-11-23 22:30
That's what happens when you replace a great IGL who's good at shutting teammates down when they rage with a young, rage-filled superstar. Zeus > ANOTHER madfragger. Like Na'vi didn't have enough firepower already.
2016-11-23 22:34
#39
CeRq | 
Canada Timings 
You this lan that s1mple keeps himself calm etc. He respects those guys in Na'Vi more than guys like koosta and adren. He has to be calm. Zeus wasn't even the IGL, but indeed they need him npw due to the coaching rule, but I'd take s1mple any day before Edward or seized tbh. S1mple is a great player tjat makes na'vi great, they need some extra time.
2016-11-23 23:40
Seized maybe, Edward never.
2016-11-24 05:25
Funny, because what happened was they finally won a big lan.
2016-11-24 06:05
Honeymoon phase.
2016-11-26 19:25
agree - s1mple sucks.
2016-11-25 14:55
i like
2016-11-23 22:30
Worth reading .
2016-11-23 22:31
#5
gAuLeS | 
Sweden Khajiit 
bi
2016-11-23 22:30
#6
Jadzz | 
Europe Jadzz 
nothing
2016-11-23 22:30
#7
 | 
Europe mlok401 
We learned: NIP is #1, Zeus was the problem, S1mple is the problem, fnx is the problem, Nuke is the problem for SKG and China CS is bad :)
2016-11-23 22:38
Nuke is just bad
2016-11-23 23:46
nICE!
2016-11-23 22:30
thorin has shit predictions
2016-11-23 22:30
#11
Potti | 
Other flynttt 
hi
2016-11-23 22:30
#12
 | 
United States NikolinhoTop1 
l
2016-11-23 22:30
SK + new anticheat XD
2016-11-23 22:30
f0rest +50
2016-11-23 22:30
#15
gas | 
Austria Phil_1337 
We learned that SK is not #1 #FALLSK
2016-11-23 22:31
#28
 | 
Denmark regnant 
Lol
2016-11-23 22:53
NICE MAN
2016-11-23 22:31
n1
2016-11-23 22:33
#20
 | 
Portugal manuhcruz 
Astralis looked good lul
2016-11-23 22:33
#23
 | 
Portugal tuwie 
I learned that you should never underestimate the Ninjas! :D #GONINJAS
2016-11-23 22:36
I learn there is no sk era overall
2016-11-23 22:49
we only learning in csgo, every time. We will never reach final learn with this community.
2016-11-23 22:49
#29
ZywOo | 
Asia 7RU7H 
We learned.. no we CONFIRMED that SK is not TOP1 anymore
2016-11-23 22:54
SK can't win anymore xD
2016-11-23 22:57
I learned with a proper anti-cheat nip is best
2016-11-23 22:59
#37
f0rest | 
Bulgaria Uberw0w 
KEK +1
2016-11-23 23:25
agree
2016-11-25 14:56
#35
 | 
Russia Rusev 
We learned that new anticheat isnt working cuz SK players are still not VAC'd ;DDDD
2016-11-23 23:17
i learned nothing
2016-11-23 23:47
#43
 | 
Paraguay HighAIching 
we learned that faze is top 1
2016-11-24 00:54
goodjob for team betway
2016-11-24 01:13
and G2 still suck
2016-11-24 01:19
Nothing.
2016-11-24 02:04
#48
 | 
Brazil chococaine 
we learned that sk can throw too
2016-11-24 02:14
The article should be called "what striker learned ...". Too many conclusions without solid ground like numbers, quotes from experts etc
2016-11-24 02:19
i learned that NaVi stinks
2016-11-24 02:31
We learned that SK can only win titles between March and July.
2016-11-24 05:27
#54
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
we learned the same thing as the previous event SK 2nd = 1st on hltv ranking
2016-11-24 07:02
#55
 | 
Brazil Collee 
Because the actual winner was not even on top 5 before, they won't jump from a tier 2 list and make it to top 1 because of one tournament. Things don't change like this. VP, Na'Vi and dignitas didn't have a better result than SK, so it's pretty fair SK are still #1, they did better than the top tier teams. In case one of them didn't play the tournament, it's pretty obvious you won't rank up without playing
2016-11-24 07:14
#60
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
i just love how every fanboi tries to explain how 2nd place at every event for the past 4 months = 1st place at hltv ranking :DDD BTW hltv ranking is broken since the first time they started to post it it doesn`t reflect the current form of the teams, by adding or removing points based even on the daily online matches.. not just lans this is a more accurate ranking: gosugamers.net/counterstrike/rankings every day it adds or removes points based on the team`s results
2016-11-24 08:35
#67
 | 
Israel HLTVDrunkPoet 
It is not accurate as points earned by fallen&co while playing in lum.g. are still with the org not players and 7/50 spots taken by non-existent teams(counting luminousity) and teams which don't even deserve to be so high(mongolz over LDLC like wtf) or don't deserve to even be there.(k23 or dreamscape)
2016-11-24 10:36
#73
 | 
Brazil Collee 
So FaZe > SK? FaZe top 2? lmao Like #67 said, this ranking is not even giving SK the points they conquered when they were LG, they are putting the tier 3 lineup we have in LG as #4, what is this ranking? How is it accurate? I love how you haters have so many poor arguments just to blindly hate SK :DDD 2nd place is better than any place except the first. And the 2 teams which beat SK were not even on top 5 before that, they won't jump from almost a tier 2 placement to top 1 because of one tournament. So it's pretty obvious SK will still be #1, the teams that are close to SK are not even being able to get better results in tournaments. If you can't understand and accept this fact I can't do anything because you won't accept the truth, and will keep blindly hating SK
2016-11-24 14:30
#74
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
i just love how every fanboi tries to explain how 2nd place at every event for the past 4 months = 1st place at hltv ranking :DDD
2016-11-24 14:56
YOU SUCK DIK?
2016-11-24 15:18
#57
 | 
Germany ToxlC 
We learned that Astralis still chokes
2016-11-24 07:21
#68
 | 
Sweden mr-gusse 
Nah Astralis didn't choke, but device did which is quite common tbh. Neither cajunb or karrigan was the problem, device (and dupreeh) have been in all iterations of that team. All known for their choking... guess who's the problem. Device can't handle the pressure, he chokes far too often in these situations as he's supposed to be the "superstar" of this team......
2016-11-24 10:36
#59
 | 
Russia NeonTHedge 
I learnt that it's really hard to watch matches in the USA. So I missed this champ
2016-11-24 07:45
#62
 | 
Hungary lemusz 
i learned that my nip fan friends will have big mouth again for no reason. (it was just an average lan)
2016-11-24 09:12
hi lemusz! still baiting on hungarian tech sites? when is the new operation coming? maybe this wednesday?
2016-11-24 20:05
#63
roman | 
Palestine ndr[o] 
Striker learned a lot! :P
2016-11-24 09:30
we learn sk are tier 2
2016-11-24 10:28
You forgot , "the french shuffle is pretty confirmed now"
2016-11-24 10:46
NiP top #1
2016-11-24 12:49
#81
 | 
France Graphyx 
g2 pls be strong :)
2016-11-27 19:23
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