One of the biggest CS:GO LAN tournaments of 2022, IEM Cologne 2022, kicked off on Tuesday. In the next two weeks, twenty-four teams will battle for the chance to raise the trophy over their heads and leave Cologne with impressive prize money for winning the tournament.
Generally speaking, CS:GO tournaments in Cologne have been held yearly for eight years except for the covid year 2020. That year, the IEM Cologne 2020 regional tournaments were held online. Nevertheless, the German city has consistently invited top snipers to compete in the biggest tournaments.
For some players, the trip to Cologne will be the first-ever, but some experienced shooters have already won a trophy there and conquered the fans' hearts. Our feature today will highlight the professionals in the CS:GO discipline claiming to repeat their success in the series of tournaments in Cologne.Bet on CS:GO with 1xBet
TACO and coldzera - the iconic figures in Brazilian eSports
The two Brazilian CS:GO legends have teamed up again before IEM Cologne 2022. Team 00Nation's roster was set up a week before the tournament began. These are the first games in the new line-up for the South Americans. At the event, they will have to get through the Play-In phase. At the time of writing, 00Nation had no problems dealing with Astralis in BO1 and also played a tough series against Team Spirit, when the Russian five managed to advance to the group stage only at the third map. TACO and coldzera, together with their teammates, will make their way through the lower reaches of the Play-In, where they will play another BO3 to advance to the tournament's group stage.
The eminent duo is remembered in Cologne for their triumphant victories at ESL Cologne 2016 and ESL Cologne 2017 as part of SK Gaming. This Brazilian organization dominated the CS:GO world scene at the time. Before 2016, TACO and coldzera were part of the Luminosity Gaming organization and won the Columbus majors under its banner. In June 2016, the entire roster moved to SK Gaming, and the new organization's first tournament for the Brazilians was ESL Cologne 2016.
The major's champions were in terrific cybersports form at the time. They first progressed undefeated through the group and only met with difficulties in the quarter-finals at Nuke against FlipSid3 Tactics (the current Natus Vincere coach B1ad3 was playing there). In the semi-finals, the Brazilians faced the Poles from VP, who managed to take only one map from the future tournament champions (and that one was extra, too) during the whole period of playoffs. On the second and third maps, SK Gaming left no stone unturned in their opponent's play and advanced to the finals, where Team Liquid, with the then young s1mple, was waiting for them. The "liquids" were unable to resist at all against their opponents, losing on Train (16:6) and Cobblestone (16:7). At the same time, TACO, coldzera, and teammates lifted the ESL Cologne 2016 trophy over their heads and gave the organization its first international trophy. Coldzera was crowned as MVP at that tournament.
The 2017 squad arrived at ESL Cologne 2017 as favorites. Still, in the group stage, played under the Swiss system, the Brazilians experienced huge problems and only managed to qualify for the playoffs on the last day of the group stage, beating Fnatic on Mirage. In the playoffs, they encountered problems only in the quarterfinals against Optic Gaming, losing to them on one map in the series on Mirage. In the semi-finals, they managed to put FaZe Clan out of action, and in the grand final, Cloud9 was crushed 3-0 in the series.
After SK Gaming disbanded, TACO and coldzera went their separate ways and reunited in the MIBR organization, but they failed to achieve victories in the new organization. But history repeats itself: perhaps the aura of the Lanxess Arena will help the duo once again feel the joy of success together.
Natus Vincere - the era of Born to Win began in Cologne
Natus Vincere has taken two tournaments in Cologne in its history - in 2018 and 2021. The team has two players who have been part of both triumphs - s1mple and electronic.
In 2018, at tournaments in Cologne, groups with a Double Elimination format were introduced for the first time, and Born to Win has shown the necessity of a lower bracket by example. In the tournament's first match, NaVi's opponents were the French from G2. On Inferno Zeus, the teammates perfectly realized their attacking moves but lost all their advantage in defense and couldn't manage to win the clash in the decisive two rounds (16:14 in favor of G2). The disappointing defeat sent the team to the lower bracket, where they had to fight tooth and nail against Gambit Esports, Cloud9, and ENCE to advance to the playoffs. However, Born to Win successfully overcame that challenge. In the elimination games, the biggest challenge for the Natus Vincere squad was the encounter with the Danes from Astralis in the semi-finals. The three-match series was very tense, but as a result, NaVi got to the final, where they confidently dealt with BIG at their home arena and took the trophy to their collection. S1mple was awarded the tournament's MVP, but according to statistics, the current team captain electronic helped him carry the current squad.
After a tough online era, it was decided to risk hosting the first CS:GO LAN event in Cologne in 2021. By that time, Natus Vincere had already had some victories in online tournaments, but in order to start the "born to win era," they needed a big win in the first offline tournament after the pandemic. In the group stage, the team faced Team Vitality with ZywOo, the 2020 MVP, and Astralis, who were already missing their star player from the device organization. This time Natus Vincere left the group in the first place and secured a place in the semi-finals. In the playoffs, they managed to extinguish FaZe Clan, and in the finals, in a bitter struggle but without a single loss on the maps, Natus Vincere managed to win the IEM Cologne 2021 against G2. Notably, this was the first LAN tournament for the player b1t, and at the event, he demonstrated precise shooting and managed to enter the top 10 of the tournament ranking. But traditionally, s1mple was named the tournament's best player, leaving all the players chasing him far behind in the ratings.
It is noteworthy that after winning Cologne in 2021 NaVi had a number of high-profile victories at BLAST, DreamHack, and the cherry on top was the victory at the Stockholm major. In 2022, the squad was one step away from the grand final of the tournament in Katowice, and in the Antwerp major they only lost in the final to the phenomenally strong FaZe Clan. The "born to win era" has faltered, but they can restart their journey and get back on the winning track at the Lanxess Arena. At IEM Cologne 2022, the Born to Win came to defend the title. The squad has recruited sdy on the permanent basis, who had acted as a replacement at BLAST Premier: Spring Finals. The team will now continue earning trophies to the organization's collection, under the captaincy of electronic.
Team Liquid - 2019 triumphants on different sides of the barricades
Unlike SK Gaming and Natus Vincere, who have already conquered the Cologne events twice, the "liquids" have so far only experienced triumph on German turf once, in 2019. At that tournament, the American organization was considered one of the favorites. Team Liquid's history in CS:GO is simple - the organization has always assembled strong line-ups, but was unable to break above 5th-8th place at the most important tournaments. In 2019, however, they managed to pull off a series of victories at tier-1 tournaments, and the trophy in Cologne became "another one of" the team's success streak. The squad consists of Twistzz, EliGE, Stewie2K, NAF and captain nitr0.
At IEM Cologne 2019, Team Liquid were lucky to be in a group with only Natus Vincere and FaZe Clan as top teams apart from the Liquid themselves. The real slaughter took place in Group B, where half of the fighters could have been good enough for a semifinal game of a prestigious tournament. And yet to reach the play-offs in the semi-finals of the upper bracket they had to face the test of the Born to Win in which the Americans could prove their superiority over their opponent only on the third map. After defeating NRG Esports, Team Liquid advanced to the playoffs from first place and their route to the trophy began in the semi-finals.
In the playoffs, the nitr0-led Team Liquid snipers won a rematch against Natus Vincere, and on Dust2, the Liquid's sniper Twistzz put on a real performance, finishing the map with a score of 31 kills and 15 deaths. A squad without any top-10 HLTV players at the time faced Team Vitality in the Grand Final. The Vitality's leader (ZywOo) displayed phenomenal shooting throughout the tournament. However, the American squad was able to find the key to the French play and ended the Grand Final series with a 3-1 score. The title of the best player of the entire tournament was still given to ZywOo, but Team Liquid made history as the winner of the Cologne event.
By 2022, the Liquid line-up had undergone a change, with Stewie2K now playing for Evil Geniuses and failing to make it to the event. ESL Cologne 2019 semi-final hero Twistzz now plays for FaZe Clan, who are looking to cement their status as the best team of the year in 2022. NAF, EliGE and permanent captain nitr0 have remained in the organization's roster up to this day and, reinforced by a stand-in from VP YEKINDAR, then can repeat the success of three years ago. And if they win, they may be able to start a new wave of victories that hasn't been seen for so long.
In lieu of conclusion
IEM Cologne 2022 started on July 5, and the play-in stage matches are in full swing. On July 6, all the teams to play in the group stage of the tournament will be determined. On July 7, group matches will start, where the 16 best teams in the world will fight it out to be declared the winner of the Cologne event.