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The GG.Bet Chicago Invitational acted as an online European qualifier for this year’s IEM stop in Chicago. After a hard-fought final against Heroic, forZe took home the CSGO trophy — and the last of the eight seeds for the American tournament. This probably means a lot to forZe, who will finally get to prove themselves on a premier tournament after having impressed pundits on online matches for months.

Heroic, the Danish core under Luis “peacemaker” Tadeus’ coaching, initially entered the finals with the upper hand. Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and company had just attended the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals in Marseille, getting to play and practice against some of the best teams in the current scene. By contrast, forZe had not attended an offline tournament since the end of April, aside from the CS.Money Premier. However, it was simply a minor Russian tournament in which they only had to play three maps in total.

forZe have spent all year obtaining encouraging results, but they have not been able to realize their potential just yet.
forZe have spent all year obtaining encouraging results, but they have not been able to realize their potential just yet. Photo via: HLTV.

A demanding finals series

The series started out on Inferno. After a mediocre CT side, the Russian side took control of the offense and closed out the first map 16-11. On Overpass, forZe kept the momentum, managing to set themselves ahead by five rounds as terrorists. Nonetheless, a handful of lost 1v2 situations would end up taking the map to four overtimes. In the end, Heroic forced the decider with a final 28-26 victory. Nuke would determine which team went to Chicago. After giving up the lead towards the end of the map, forZe managed to recover their form and shatter Heroic’s hopes with a 16-12 scoreline.

Four of the five Russian players boasted more than a 1.00 HLTV ranking after the conclusion of the series. Bogdan “xsepower” Chernikov was undoubtedly his team’s backbone throughout the match. The youngster ended with a +33 K/D differential and a 1.38 HLTV ranking. With this nail-biting victory, forZe have finally secured a spot with the best in the world at IEM Chicago 2019.

The details of IEM Chicago

IEM Chicago 2019 will unfold on July 18 at the United Center. All the other participants have already been determined. These include Team Liquid, Renegades, G2 Esports, ENCE, Team Envy, and Team Vitality. A total $250,000 will be up for grabs, with half of it going to the winner. The broadcast talent is also public already, with recognizable faces like Tres “stunna” Saranthus, Anders Blume, and Chad “SPUNJ” Burchill.

For forZe, qualifying for Chicago is a great opportunity to show what they are really made of. Late last year, Andrey “Jerry” Mekhryakov and co. went out in a respectable third place at the PLG Grand Slam 2018. Last April, they became the champions of Copenhagen Games 2019, overcoming Sprout in the finals. The potential is certainly there. Against such powerful rivals, though, it is unclear if the Russian side will be able to make a deep run at IEM Chicago. An amazing spectacle surely awaits, but at least it will not be long until the American tournament finally kicks off.