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The Intel Extreme Masters Cologne play-ins have come to a close, meaning that all 16 teams competing in the group stage are locked in. 00 Nation became the final team to advance through the IEM Cologne play-ins and into the group stage after winning the Brazilian derby against Imperial Esports.
The IEM Cologne group stage runs July 7-10. Two double-elimination eight team groups will play out until three teams remain to be sent to playoffs. The winner of each group will head directly to the semifinals while the second and third-place teams move to the quarterfinals. All matches are best of three.
The eight teams in Group A are:
- Natus Vincere
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- G2 Esports
- Movistar Riders
- Team Vitality
The eight teams in Group B are:
- FaZe Clan
- 00 Nation
- Team Spirit
- Team Liquid
- FURIA Esports
Already, many strong teams have been eliminated from IEM Cologne in the play-ins. Teams like BIG and Imperial couldn’t hold on long enough to make the group stage. But one team’s misfortune is another team’s opportunity. Movistar Riders continued their trend of showing up in the big moments after beating MIBR and Team Vitality to forge their way into the group stage in strong form. Outsiders also came out of the gates with an unexpectedly hot start, defeating Imperial and BIG.
IEM Cologne group stage
The group stage begins with some exciting round 1 matchups. In Group A, many will have their eyes on Heroic vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas at 6:30 a.m. ET and Team Vitality vs. ENCE at 10 a.m. ET. In Group B, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis’s first match with Team Liquid against Team Spirit at 1:30 p.m. ET will be one to watch.
It’s rare to have a tournament as open for any team to win as IEM Cologne. Early favorites to take the trophy will be FaZe, Na’Vi and Cloud9, who recently won Intel Extreme Masters Dallas. Other teams like ENCE, Heroic and G2 are also strong contenders.
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.