IEM Dallas playoffs set up big opportunities for glory
G2 Esports IEM Dallas
Provided by ESL. Photo ny Eric Ananmalay.

IEM Dallas playoffs set up big opportunities for glory

The teams, stories and stand-out players heading into the final stage of the tournament

Intel Extreme Masters Dallas is nearing its conclusion as the competition has been whittled down to six remaining teams. The best has clearly been saved for last as IEM Dallas heads to the playoff rounds at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center starting at 2 p.m. ET on Friday.

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The playoffs will begin with the lower seeded teams from Groups A and B hashing it out in the quarterfinals in a best of three. From there, the Saturday semifinal round will take place with the two undefeated teams from the group stage waiting their turn. Finally, the grand final will be a full best of five starting at noon ET on Sunday, with the winning team receiving $100,000 and a boatload of ESL and BLAST circuit points.

The six remaining teams at IEM Dallas are:

  • FURIA Esports
  • G2 Esports
  • FaZe Clan
  • Cloud9
  • ENCE
  • BIG

There are already some big names missing. Astralis, Team Vitality, Team Liquid and Ninjas in Pyjamas are nowhere to be found, having already been eliminated. Still, the remaining teams are some of the best IEM Dallas has to offer.

In the opening quarterfinals matchups, there’s already a guarantee that some additional heavy-hitters are going home. Cloud9 drew the short straw and find themselves up against FaZe Clan, the champs from PGL Major Antwerp. It will be a tall task for Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov and his team to topple the giants.

FURIA against G2 should also deliver, with both teams hungry for a grand final appearance. Those looking for a closely contested match should keep an eye on this match.

BIG and ENCE are sitting pretty, waiting for their semifinals matchup. Few predicted these two teams as the winners from Group A and B, but that just goes to show that anything can happen in Counter-Strike.

The players

With Team Liquid and Complexity Gaming out of the tournament, NA fans will have FaZe’s Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken as their only remaining representative. The Canada-born Van Dullken has been amazing fans left and right so far in this tournament, so fans who want to watch a strong player who can carry a team will have more than enough with Twistzz.

Cloud9 had a rough showing at Antwerp, but you wouldn’t know it based on their current form at all. Outside of a tough loss to FURIA, the team has looked more like their old selves. A large part of that is thanks to the fragging duo of Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov and Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov turning up the heat. Keep an eye on sh1ro as a difference maker in their quarterfinals match against FaZe.

The Polish Counter-Strike legend Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski is filling in on ENCE in his first Tier 1 stint, playing as if he’s been in Tier 1 forever. Snax has done what’s been asked of him and more and helped ENCE look like an unstoppable force this tournament.

Finally, there’s Nikola “NiKo” Kovač who’s looking more like himself as well. Arguably the best player remaining in the IEM Dallas playoffs, NiKo and G2 are in need of a win, and IEM Dallas could be just the place to do it. Still, they’ll have to get past FURIA and a red hot Yuri “yuurih” Boian to make it happen.

The stories

Snappi IEM Dallas
Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer at IEM Dallas. | Provided by ESL. Photo by Eric Ananmalay.

Maybe the biggest story of IEM Dallas thus far is ENCE. Down one of their star players, Lotan “Spinx” Giladi, many expected the international roster to fold in the face some of any tough situations. However, there’s no hint of weakness in their play; they netted themselves massive wins against G2 Esports and the No. 1 team, FaZe Clan, during the group stage. The Polish trio of Snax, Paweł “dycha” Dycha and Aleksander “hades” Miskiewicz has been absolutely devastating. It will be interesting to see just how far they can go.

The two teams most in need of a big IEM Dallas playoffs finish are probably Cloud9 and G2 Esports. These are both top five teams that didn’t fully show up at Antwerp. G2 need a win to validate the existence of their new super team. Cloud9 just plain need a win; it’s been a while since the kings of the online era have looked like the best team in Counter-Strike.

It wouldn’t be fair to talk underdogs and not mention BIG, who won out Group B. There’s something about this team that lets them level up their play from time-to-time. Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz and co. are a perennial threat to top Tier 1 teams, but haven’t been able to notch many grand final appearances in recent years. That could all change at IEM Dallas — unfortunately, their side of the bracket includes FaZe, the tournament favorites. You better believe the international roster wants the win as their quest for an Intel Grand Slam continues.

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Coby Zucker
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.