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The 2021 Intel Extreme Masters Winter tournament runs from Dec. 2-12 as the second to last S-Tier Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament of the year, followed only by the BLAST Premier: World Final. The tournament will be played offline in Stockholm, Sweden, but there won’t be a crowd in attendance, unlike the recent BLAST Fall Final and PGL Major. Sixteen teams will compete for $250,000 in prize money, as well as ESL Pro Tour points that will help them qualify for the upcoming IEM Katowice 2022.
IEM Winter 2021 format
IEM Winter 2021 will begin with two double-elimination groups. Opening matches will be best-of-one and the rest will be best-of-three. Group stage winners will advance to the semifinals. Group stage runners-up will advance to the quarterfinals as the High Seeds. Group stage third place teams will advance to the quarterfinals as the Low Seeds. The playoffs are to be single-elimination with a best-of-five grand finals.
Although IEM Winter 2021 features many of the top teams in CS:GO, the no. 1 team Natus Vincere will not be in attendance. With the powerhouse team from the Commonwealth of Independent States gone, the tournament is wide open. Early favorites coming into IEM Winter 2021 are Team Vitality, Gambit Esports and Heroic, though it’s really anyone’s event to win. Another big thread to follow is Fnatic, who are undefeated in their recent matches against Tier 2 opposition. Now, they go against Tier 1 opponents and look to maintain their streak.
The opening match ups for IEM Winter 2021 are as follows:
G2 Esports vs. TYLOO — 7:10 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
OG Esports vs. Team Liquid — 7:10 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. Astralis — 6:00 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
MOUZ vs. Team Vitality — 6:00 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
Gambit Esports vs. Fnatic — 8:20 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
ENCE vs. Virtus.pro — 8:20 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
FaZe Clan vs. BIG Esports — 9:30 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
GODSENT vs. Heroic — 9:30 a.m. ET on Dec. 2
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.