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Intel Extreme Masters Season XV - Global Challenge Preview

Intel Extreme Masters Season XV - Global Challenge is an upcoming CS:GO event scheduled to take place online between December 15th – 20th. Because of its prize pool ($500,000) and the level of the participants, this is almost the equivalent of a Major. While it may not be as big as a Major, it’s definitely very prestigious and the entire CS:GO community will be interested in its matches.

IEM XV Global Challenge Details

IEM XV Global Challenge takes place in two stages. The Group Stage consists of two GSL groups. All matches are Bo3 and the top 2 teams from each group will advance to the Playoffs.

The Playoffs Stage takes place in the usual format: single-elimination with Bo3 Semifinals and a Bo5 Grand Final.

Prize Distribution

IEM XV Global Challenge offers half a million dollars in prizes as well as thousands of BLAST Premier points. These rewards will be distributed among the 8 participants in the following way.

  • 1st place: $200,000 / 3000 points
  • 2nd place: $100,000 / 1500 points
  • 3rd – 4th place: $50,000 / 938 points
  • 5th – 6th place: $30,000 / 375 points
  • 7th – 8th place: $20,000 / 188 points

Participants

Intel Extreme Masters Season XV - Global Challenge features 8 teams from Europe, CIS, North America, and South America. These are all strong competitors, even though some of them are much stronger than others.

  • Team Vitality
  • Complexity Gaming
  • Astralis
  • Chaos Esports Club
  • Heroic
  • FURIA Esports
  • Natus Vincere
  • Team Liquid

Team Analysis

Here’s a brief analysis of the 8 competitors that will be taking part in the tournament.

Team Vitality

Vitality is currently ranked 1st with 538 points. It’s becoming harder and harder to deny the fact that ZywOo is as good or almost as good as s1mple. This player’s been doing impressive things for his team and his performances are part of the reason why Vitality is the number 1 team in the world. In 2019, ZywOo won the CS:GO player of the year award and we’re likely to see him get a high rank for 2020 as well.

Since the second half of June this year, Vitality had 5 appearances in the Grand Final of an important even and only one failure (9th – 10th place at ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe). The level of consistency that they’ve managed to achieve is quite impressive and it reminds me of Astralis’ and Liquid’s glory days.

The only teams that managed to beat Vitality in their last 15 matches were FaZe Clan and Heroic. FaZe Clan will not be present at this tournament but Heroic will. It’s difficult to give a clear prediction retarding Vitality’s chances of winning the trophy but I fully expect them to get at least a 3rd – 4th place result.

Complexity Gaming

Complexity is ranked 5th at this point, having 247 points. This team succeeds to consistently finish in the top 8 at important events but rarely climbs higher than 5th – 6th. Their biggest success in 2020 was their trophy at BLAST Premier: Spring 2020 European Finals, for which they won $335,000.

Going into IEM XV Global Challenge, I do not expect to see Complexity in the Playoffs, simply because they have a very tough group with opponents like Vitality and Astralis. And since only two teams will survive it, I think their chances are minimal.

Astralis

dev1ce

Astralis has regrouped and is now playing in its glory days formula, with gla1ve as IGL and everyone firing on all cylinders. In their last 5 matches, Astralis got 5 wins against strong opponents like FURIA, Liquid, and G2. With the first two of these teams they might do battle again at this event.

If we try to assess Astralis’ strength based on their recent tournament results, we’d have to conclude that they’re still struggling to find their peak again. However, given that the 5th – 8th place they got at IEM XV Beijing was caused by a loss to Na’Vi in the Quarterfinals, I don’t think we should view their situation so superficially. This competitor is clearly very strong and it’s only a matter of time until it returns to its previous level.

At this event, Astralis is most likely ready to get a 3rd – 4th place. The dev1ce’s team looks good enough to survive the Group Stage but not good enough to defeat the likes of Na’Vi and Vitality.

Chaos Esports Club

This is probably the only participant that has no chance whatsoever. The skill difference between this team and everyone else is huge. An important observation here is to not let yourself be tricked by their huge win rate over the last 10-20 matches. Because their opponents were mostly tier 2 teams or even worse. Compared to Na’Vi, Astralis, and the rest of the world-class teams, the opponents they got used to playing against are completely irrelevant.

Heroic

Heroic is ranked 2nd with 487 points. If you’ve missed the action that took place over the last 6 months, you’re probably wondering how a team that used to be ranked 36th not that long ago is now a serious contender for the number 1 spot. And the answer is simple: the entire roster got replaced at the beginning of April this year and since then, things have been going surprisingly well.

Of course, some of the good results might also have something to do with HUNDEN’s illicit in-game activities. But the coach’s exploitation of the now famous coach bug cannot be the whole answer to our questions. Heroic is clearly a strong team and we have seen that recently, at DreamHack Open Fall 2020, a tournament in which they won the title by defeating Vitality in the Grand Final.

Going into IEM XV Global Challenge, Heroic has a good chance of qualifying for the Playoffs. But their group is very tough, with teams like FURIA, Natus Vincere, and Liquid.

FURIA Esports

HEN1

FURIA is ranked 8th with 211 points. But the fact that their roster has been united for a few years is a huge plus. In an industry in which roster changes happen very frequently and can alter the strength of a team by a lot, FURIA’s players decided to sign long-term contracts with the organization and commit to results in the long run. To some degree, they’ve already started to deliver. Just in 2020 alone, this team won 5 trophies in regional competitions, defeating Team Liquid no less than 3 times in the Grand Final.

FURIA’s current form clearly indicates that they are a prime candidate in Group B to qualify for the Playoffs.

Natus Vincere

s1mple

Na’Vi is a top 3 team at this point and its roster is absolutely impressive. It’s been a long time since s1mple had to carry his team on every single map. Now there’s a solid system in place and everyone’s contributing to the team’s success. Boombl4’s been around for 18 months. Perfect’s been around for 10 months. The other players are Na’Vi veterans and know exactly what their teammates need from them. When you have such a strong lineup full of world-class individuals, it’s hard not to be a top team.

The big question is: will Na’Vi win the trophy at IEM XV Global Challenge? The answer is probably no, just because Vitality and a few other teams seem just a bit stronger. But they can definitely try.

Team Liquid

Grim

Without nitr0 and adreN, Liquid seems to have lost its way. Sure, they’re still a good team, but when they need to deliver against the world’s best competitors, they usually don’t. And it’s obvious why: the experience is lacking and Grim does not seem to be the perfect replacement for the superstar who left the squad to start his Valorant career.

Going into IEM XV Global Challenge, I expect Liquid to fail and finish the Group Stage with 0 wins and 2 losses.

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Esports professional, Dota 2 expert, interested in a wide array of topics, from copywriting to computer science. In esports, my main specialties are Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS:GO.