IEM6 WC group B preview
After previewing the group A of Intel Extreme Masters 6 World Championship, it's now time to shed some light on the group B of the event.
Featuring a total of twelve teams split up in two groups of six, the IEM6 World Championship features just about every top team in the world right now. Although certain teams dropped out, ESL was able to keep the tournament full with replacements.
In round robin each team plays each other once in a best-of-one format where both teams eliminate three maps from the seven map pool which consists of de_dust2, de_forge, de_inferno, de_mirage de_nuke, de_train and de_tuscan.
fnatic (cArn, Friis, Gux, MODDII, Xizt)
Patrik "cArn" Sättermon's team has been slowly improving ever since Michael "Friis" Jorgensen joined to replace long time fnatic member Harley "dsn" Örwall. Currently I would rank them 4-5th best in the world along with Moscow Five, who they had a long history of besting up until IEM6 GC Kiev where the Russians came out on top in the third place decider. Ever since the departure of Faruk "pita" Pita who was replaced by Andreas "MODDII" Fridh we have yet to see fnatic on LAN and their results are expected to improve since Kiev. So far their only matches with the new lineup are from TECHLABS Cup where they had a good showing, recording wins against Xapso and ESC in the group stage and WinFakt in quarter finals before a close 1-2 loss against Na`Vi ended their tournament
When you take each match up apart in group B, fnatic are favorites against every single team on paper. Moscow Five has the best chance at beating them and their match will likely determine the winner of the group. WinFakt has had a couple of close games against fnatic recently and Lions has a history of upsetting the better Swedish teams. eSAHARA seems like a big question mark right now as they have recorded that one flaky win against SK at SEC where it was too loud to hear any sounds, and have since then done nothing of any merit. It's hard to say how semXorah will do either as they have four new players from Mandic for this event, but I would expect fnatic to come out on top regardless.
Prediction: 1st in group B
All eyes will be on MODDII in fnatic's games
Moscow Five (Dosia, ED1K, Fox, ROMJkE, xek)
Moscow Five is a favorite over every other team in this group but fnatic, and even against them the odds can't be much worse than 45-55 in the Swedes' favor. They've had the same roster for a long time and we've seen Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov's brother Sergey "Fox" Stolyarov improve considerably in that time frame to become even the team's best player at times. Alexander "xek" Zobkov has been very inconsistent and is probably the biggest difference maker in this team, as the others are more or less expect to play on their level but a jump in his level of play can make a big difference. Eduard "ED1K" Ivanov has also been playing under his usual level lately.
Comparing Moscow Five head to head to any of the other teams in the group besides fnatic, you have to assume they will at least advance, even if it's not in second place. As is the case with fnatic, semXorah and eSAHARA are expected to offer little resistance to the Russians, so it will all come down to the two matches against Lions and WinFakt. I don't believe M5 has faced Lions in an actual LAN tournament yet, and they've consistently beaten WinFakt ever since last summer. Regardless of placing second or third, Moscow Five should advance to bracket play where they should hope to face ESC rather than Na`Vi or SK.
Prediction: 2nd in group B
How will 2011's best Desert Eagle team fare in Hannover?
Lions (FYRR73, kHRYSTAL, niko, threat, zneel)
Lions have always been the "almost" team of big tournaments to me. They had a great performance at DreamHack Winter last year but apart from that it seems like they always almost make it, then lose at the last second against top teams. Most recently they attended IEM6 GC Kiev where they got demolished by Na`Vi, beaten by SK and they got a win against the weak DTS squad. They are a team that can for sure advance if they show up playing well, but it's another question whether or not they actually will. One of the reasons they seem to have problems here and there is the lack of firepower against the very best teams, and why I personally think they were better when Andreas "MODDII" Fridh was a stand-in for them in the IEM Kiev qualifiers earlier.
One player who needs to step up his game overall at big events is Jim "zneel" Andersson who everyone is familiar with as the guy who always uses a FAMAS with burst mode and one taps people with an AK. Highest rated player of DreamHack Winter, Emil "FYRR73" Karlsson seemed to be in good shape in Kiev as well, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue his good performances in Hannover. I think Lions is a slight underdog against both fnatic and Moscow Five, fairly even with WinFakt and and a favorite against both eSAHARA and semXorah. If the matches end up going that way, that would mean the match against the Finns would decide their fate at CeBIT. Since they face WinFakt last in the group stage, a possible loss by either team to one of the underdogs could shift things and make the final game a lot less interesting.
Prediction: 4th in group B
Can DreamHack Winter's MVP help Lions escape the group stage?
WinFakt (allu, aslak, BASiC, H^N, lurppis)
Prediction by Marc "Nix0n" Winther Kristensen
The Finnish team will travel to Hannover with a warmup event in their bag, having attended FireCore 3 this weekend. All practice is good practice and it could be a nice moral booster for the team, going into the World Championship group stage and I think they have a pretty solid chance of advancing from the group.
In Kiev they did not play particular good. They didn't advance from the group, but still won against mousesports. I think WinFakt will advance from this group if they manage to beat Lions. Against fnatic and Moscow Five I think they will fall, just like they did when playing them on LAN last time. The match against eSAHARA is a match I don't see them Finns losing, while I feel the match against semXorah could get tricky. With that said, I won't rule out the possibility of WinFakt upsetting either fnatic or Moscow Five, but overall see them go through to the quarter-finals.
Prediction: 3rd in group B
Will H^N return to his pre-army form in time for IEM WC?
eSAHARA (atLaNtis, drizzer, HaRts, MAJ3R, nOta)
I don't think Electronic Sahara had great chances at making top four in the group even with their two star players Mickael "mSx" Cassisi and Christopher "SIXER" Xia, but now that they've been stripped of most of their star power I don't think it would be wrong to pretty much count the French out of competition for a playoff spot. They might still be able to upset semXorah or even get rounds on one of the other teams, but especially considering the fact I doubt they're very well prepared seeing as how late they announced their temporary line-up for the event, I doubt they're in good shape as a team.
Fabien "atLaNtis" Deguirad has made a couple of appearances in differenthighlight clips even here on HLTV.org and seems to have a reasonable amount of individual skill which should come in handy as a replacement for Xia. Cassisi has been a big disappointment ever since his comeback, and Kyle "nOta" Saadi has actually seemed decent in some of his recent tournaments and matches, so skillwise the drop might not be as big as people might consider. However, Xia and Cassisi were the play makers and main impact players of eSAHARA, and I think that is where this team will fall. The seven map rotation won't help them either, as they more than likely have had no practice on de_mirage or de_forge. I can't see this team going through, and I think they'll end up fighting for the 5th spot in group B with semXorah.
Prediction: 6th in group B
HaRts reunites with ESWC teammate nOta - will that be enough?
semXorah (bit, FalleN, felippe, fnx, nak)
The Brazilians changing four players in their roster totally turned the team upside down, as they have failed miserably in New York (granted, with stand-ins) and at DreamHack. The team that everyone thought was going to be a punching bag for everyone else in Hannover can now compete, and it will make many matches much more interesting. I'm not sure how much preparation these guys have had or how rusty they are from what I can only assume has been a break of at least a couple of months since their last international appearance at World Cyber Games and the Mandic sponsorship's expiration.
This team will clearly live and die with Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's individual performances, and he will have to make some magic happen if Felippe "felippe" Martins hopes to see the playoffs this time. On paper you have to assume they are currently underdogs to everyone in this group except eSAHARA, who are probably on a somewhat similar level. It's worth remembering that no one knows what kind of form semXorah will be in, so they could either surprise everyone with some upset wins to mess up the group or completely crash out. I don't see them making too much noise although an upset win is possible, so they will probably fight it out with the Frenchies to avoid placing dead last at this year's IEM World Championship.
Prediction: 5th in group B
FalleN gets a second chance at IEM WC
Just like in the past two years, the number one team of each group will qualify directly to the semi finals while the second and third placing teams will play each other in the quarter finals. All of playoffs will be played in a best-of-three single elimination bracket.
Who do you think will make it out of this group? How do you think semXorah featuring Gabriel "Fallen" Toledo will do? Will the Swedes end up on top? Leave a comment with your prediction below.