Biggest disappointments of IEM Cologne 2022 - teams that won't make the playoffs

Alisa Barladyan
15 Jul 2022

The main summer event of CS:GO is taking place in Cologne at the Lanxess Arena from July 5-17. At IEM Cologne 2022, group stage matches have already been played and playoff participants have been determined. The trophy and the $400,000 prize will be played out between the six teams that made it through the meat grinder in their respective groups.

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IEM Cologne 2022

The final matches of the tournament will feature established teams, the HLTV ranking leaders, as well as young teams that made a sensational statement during the event. This weekend, Movistar Riders fans will finally see their team on the big stage in an attempt to win one of the most prestigious trophies in the CS:GO discipline. After a long time, Team Liquid, Astralis, and MOUZ will try to impress us with new victories. Finally, at IEM Cologne 2022, we will get to know the answer to the question: NaVi or FaZe Clan? The action-packed matches of the play-offs will start in the evening, July 15, at 16:30 Moscow time, and can be seen on the official ESL webcast.

In the group stage, in addition to the sensations, we also saw disappointing performances from the HLTV ranking leaders. Several teams that have won tournaments or placed high in the past few months, with good teamwork and shooting, did not qualify for the final play-offs before the summer break. This article will focus on the disappointments of IEM Cologne 2022.

Berlin International Gaming failed to qualify directly into the group stage at their home tournament, but even that shouldn't be an issue for the blooming team. The Germans after their disappointing major in Antwerp managed to show good performance at IEM Dallas, making it into the top four teams in the tournament, and also secured an important victory at the Roobet Cup just before the event in Cologne. There seemed to be nothing to stop BIG from safely progressing in the top bracket of the tournament's Play-In, getting into the fight for the tournament's playoffs, and taking the opportunity to play in front of their audience.

In the first meeting, Australia's ORDER didn't put up much of a fight, and the Berlin side played phenomenal defense on Nuke. With a score of 16-7, BIG advanced to the second leg of the Play-In, where a series against the Outsiders awaited them. And if on their first map Inferno the Germans had a chance to cause a comeback and a shift of power, on Dust2 the score didn't reflect the course of the match. The Outsiders kept their opponents under their control at all times and went into the group stage 2-0 (16-13, 16-13) in the series with a cool head start.

In the bottom bracket of Play-In, BIG faced Astralis, who are slowly finding their game but remain a faded shadow of their 2018-2019 era. On the first Nuke map, the Germans played out a superb defense and by the change of rounds, they were leading with an 11-4 score, while Krimbo had an insane +15 and 130 damage per round. But after the change of sides, the Danes made an unbelievable 16:14 comeback, as their defense was no longer faltering, and their opponents managed to take only 3 rounds on the attack.

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On Dust 2, after an even start, BIG with an excellent AWP performance from syrsoN (15 of 19 frags were scored with the rifle) managed to make a series of victorious rounds and finish the map with a score of 16:13 in their favor. On Overpass, the intense fight continued, but in the end, the Danes would take over 5 rounds in a row and wrestle their way into the Cologne event. With a score of 16-11 on Overpass and 2-1 in the series, Astralis were preparing for their next contest, while their opponents from Berlin went on early vacation.

The series against the Outsiders and Astralis proved to be a tough challenge for the Berlin team, but this is not the end of the season the Germans had hoped for, and now they are seriously considering changes to the roster. According to some media reports, the BIG organization is not satisfied with the latest results of their team, and therefore there could be changes in the roster during the offseason. The final decision will be based on the opinion of the team's coach.

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The squad bought from the Gambit organization can't yet boast the enviable results of last year. After a disappointing performance at the last major, the Russians reminded the world of themselves at IEM Dallas and brought the Cloud9 organization its first trophy since the Boston major in 2018. The squad was invited to the tournament directly to the group stage and initially looked like one of the favorites for the LAN-event in Cologne.

On the first game day in the CIS derby against the Outsiders, nafany's team had little trouble on Dust2, botched the game for the attacking side on Ancient, but completely demolished their opponent on defence, taking 12 rounds against 1. 16-6 on Dust2 and 16-12 on Ancient settled the outcome of the clash. Cloud9 awaited an opponent in the FURIA vs Astralis clash.

Looking at the Group B bracket, before the start of the games one could have expected that Cloud9 would have an easy path to the final of the top bracket and a showdown with FaZe Clan for a place in the semi-finals. But in reality, Cloud9 experienced huge problems at Inferno in the series against Astralis and had nothing to counteract the individual play of Xyr9x and blameF from the Danish squad. And on Mirage, team captain nafany had the worst hour of his career as he gained 1 kill to 23 deaths on the map. Astralis often started the rounds in the majority and on the second map they successfully cruised to victory, while blameF finished Mirage with 30 kills and 12 deaths - Cloud9 literally fell from grace - they dropped from the top bracket to the lower bracket.

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A devastating defeat from the Danish squad had an impact on their further group play, and in the next series against Team Liquid, we saw the blue Cloud9 players who obviously hadn't expected to play in the lower bracket and were still fighting for the playoffs on a Sunday afternoon. And Team Liquid took advantage of their opponents poor form and started the game powerfully on both Dust2 and Vertigo, stripping the opponent of hopes for a comeback. The series ended 2-0, Cloud9 finished in 9th-12th place in the tournament and started to pack their bags, while the American team made some pretty highlights of the losers as a farewell.

I can't say it felt like our usual performance. We played terribly yesterday and today. There are a few reasons why we didn't play like we normally do. But if anyone wants to find someone to blame, then it obviously would be me, because I performed poorly in the series with Astralis and Team Liquid. Obviously, when the one who is supposed to make the opening frags doesn't do their job properly, it's hard for you to play. And as an in-game leader, I didn't do well in this tournament either. That's part of the reason why I ruined this championship for my team.


But despite the defeat, there's not even a hint of disbanding or changes in the squad, and we'll definitely see the Cloud9 five in tournaments after the off-season. The squad experienced difficulties in the first half of 2022, but the players will recover during the summer, find new ideas and improve their personal skills. And by this autumn they will be ready to win new trophies.

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The team of the French and Danes gradually found the synergy in their game. Six months after Magisk and dupreeh joined the team, Team Vitality played their first grand final at the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals against Natus Vincere. And even if that series was confidently taken over by the "born to win", the very fact of reaching the Grand Final already looked like progress for the new team of coach zonic. Undoubtedly, their goal for IEM Cologne was to get through the Play-In and reach the decisive games in the Lanxess Arena.

Team Vitality handled the first challenge, albeit with a misfire in the top bracket against Movistar Riders. The Spaniards will battle it out in the play-offs, but it was in this clash that they started their 'fairytale' journey. The apEX team got off to a good start to press their opponents on Vertigo, but lost their advantage on the attack. The Spaniards won with flying colors on Team Vitality's favorite map Overpass and advanced to the group stage with a 2-0 score. The French and Danes had to face Sprout in the lower bracket of Play-In. On Vertigo, it came down to extra rounds, where Team Vitality lost again, but as there was no room for error for them anymore, they turned the tide on Dust2 and Overpass and took the match score to 16-11 and 16-10 respectively.

The team's performance in the Play-In did not inspire hope for a good result, and the day before the start of the group stage the captain apEX needed to get his team back on track and remind them that the most important games were still ahead of them. In the group's quarterfinals, Team Vitality's opponents were the ENCE snipers who had nothing to show for the tournament at all (more about them later). But even here, zonic's charges misfired on Dust2 and gave their opponents hope for a change in the series. Only with a convincing performance on Mirage did they manage to close the series in their favor and head to the semi-finals, where a rematch against Movistar Riders awaits.

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ZywOo looked increasingly strong over the course of the tournament, but his team was clearly unable to keep up with the level of their star. In the series against Movistar Riders and MOUZ in the lower bracket, the Team Vitality sniper was the best ranked player on both teams, but more often than not he had to tackle difficult situations solo against 2, 3 or even 4 opponents.

But the French-Danish team were unable to move up the bracket. In a rematch against Movistar Riders, the teams were able to exchange maps on Mirage and Vertigo, while in a hard-fought battle on Nuke, Team Vitality lost the last five rounds on attack and missed their most direct chance of making the playoffs. In the series against MOUZ on Inferno, ZywOo finished with 32 kills and 13 deaths, taking the map for his team, but on Overpass he failed to shoot well. Before the change of sides, Team Vitality was ahead of MOUZ with 9-6, but dexter's team pulled off a stunning comeback and tied the series. On Nuke, apEX fought to the last and almost evened the series after a few errors in defense, but MOUZ came out stronger in the clutch and made it to the final of the lower bracket, where they also managed to beat NiP to advance to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, zonic's wards were once again left out of the race for the prizes. But there's an even more depressing issue - the star player ZywOo's game has a huge impact on the team's performance. If the leader's game is going well, the team is likely to take the map even with mediocre performances from its other members. But a team with championship ambitions must have at least one more player capable of taking the initiative. Magisk occasionally delivers individual high-profile play, but it's not always enough to finish the series in Team Vitality's favor, while dupreeh and misutaaa struggle to finish games with positive stats in key games. There is hope that zonic will be able to find the keys to the team's performance problems, and the players will be able to breathe the scent of victory in serious tournaments by this fall. In the meantime, just enjoy a brilliant ACE from captain apEX.

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ENCE had a great tournament series in May, finishing third in the Antwerp major and playing in the IEM Dallas grand final against Cloud9. They also won the BLAST Premier: Spring European Showdown 2022 where Snappi's team was unrivaled among European teams. Alas, as early as June they suffered a setback, when the roster failed to reach even the quarter-finals at the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals and the Roobet Cup. In Cologne, the team started their way from the group stage, but it was the bad luck with the grid that failed ENCE - their first game fell to Team Vitality, who had already been slapped in the Play-In and approached the clash with the top 3 of HLTV ranking with all seriousness.

In Team Vitality's series with ENCE, the teams excellently realized the first kills of the rounds on all three maps. The "bumblebees" won on Nuke, ENCE conquered Dust2. On the final map Mirage, ENCE players couldn't figure out the offense, taking only 2 rounds in the first half, and even a winning streak of 5 rounds for defense already looked like the agony of the whole series.

And in the lower bracket they were to meet the angry G2 players, who had unexpectedly fallen in the lower bracket because of Movistar Riders. No one could have predicted a match of this caliber in the first round of the lower bracket, and yet one of the top teams was already sure to become the disappointment of the whole tournament after the match. On Dust2 and Ancient, the teams went head-to-head in the first half of the maps, but after the change of sides, G2 took the lead twice and finally sealed their advantage in a long series of rounds. On Dust2 ENCE was able to put up a weak attempt at resistance, and after the switch on Ancient, G2 took all 9 rounds and sent their opponents home. Remarkably, in the last series almost all the winners had positive individual statistics, while among the losers only Spinx was with positive stats, while the rest were in deep deficit.

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ENCE fell victim to the tournament grid - twice having to play against the most skilled opponents at the start of the championship. Although both Team Vitality and G2 are not in the best shape right now, they are always competing for the top places in any tournament. The team's shape played a big part in their early drop from the tournament. Perhaps after a rest ENCE will be able to find their game and succeed in the upcoming tournaments. At least the coach believes so.

Today we are flying home from Cologne. I would like to wish good luck to the teams that stayed in the tournament. It is time for our summer holiday. We have played well in the first half of 2022 - I am proud of our results. Although the last month our play has been disappointing. We don't seem to have reached our full potential. There are many reasons for that, but the main one is fatigue from a lot of tournaments and traveling.


There are only six teams left in the tournament. The IEM Cologne 2022 quarter-finals will start on Friday, July 15 at 16:30 Moscow time. All matches will take place at the Lanxess Arena in the presence of spectators. There will be an official broadcast from ESL for spectators from all over the world. will also follow the tournament's developments.

Source: cybersport.metaratings

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