iBUYPOWER is kicking 2019 off for competitive CS:GO with the iBUYPOWER Masters IV.
Scheduled a little over a month before the first Major of 2019, the IEM Katowice 2019, the iBUYPOWER Masters IV will be offering fans their first look at some of their favourite team’s latest lineups, as well as how others have improved after taking a relatively short break from competition because of the holiday season.
Next weekend, from January 19 to 20, eight CS:GO teams from all over the world will be duking it out under the bright lights of AVALON Hollywood in Los Angeles with $200,000 on the line.
So, who’s competing? Who are the favourites? How do the teams stack up against each other?
Read on more below to find out.
iBUYPOWER MASTERS IV — Format and Teams
Over the course of a few weeks, iBUYPOWER teased the participating teams of their tournament, starting things off first with Astralis and rounding the list out with the eighth and final team, Team Liquid.
The eight attending teams will be playing against each other in a best-of-one, double-elimination GSL group stage on Saturday (January 19), with only the top two teams from each group advancing to the Playoffs on Sunday (January 20).
Group A will be comprised of Astralis, Fnatic, Cloud9, and compLexity Gaming. Meanwhile, Team Liquid, FaZe Clan, Ghost Gaming, and Luminosity Gaming will all make up Group B.
With only eight teams playing across two days, this is going to be one short event. However, make no mistake, the caliber of invited teams also means that there’s still a lot to take away from it all. For example, the possibility of finally finding an answer to the now-seemingly-redundant question, who’s going to dethrone Astralis? Is it Team Liquid, who recently added superstar Jacky ‘Stewie2K‘ Yip to their roster? Or, maybe, it’s FaZe Clan, who’s trying out a new look with Dauren ‘AdreN‘ Kystaubayev standing in for Finn ‘karrigan‘ Andersen, who is currently on loan to Team Envy?
FaZe Clan and Team Liquid aren’t Astralis’ only problem, though. Lest we forget, Fnatic very nearly took out the Danes at the semifinals of IEM Chicago 2018. If they can improve on their previous performance, they’re good enough to throw a monkey wrench on Astralis’ plans of starting 2019 on a good note.
iBUYPOWER Masters IV — Power Rankings
At this point, we’ve run out of adjectives to describe just how good Astralis have been throughout 2018. Words simply just don’t do their performance justice anymore. What’s even more amazing is that they’re likely not done yet.
A historically-dominant team, Astralis combines tactical innovation with strong individual form and the uncanny ability stay calm, as well as composed, as a team despite facing seemingly insurmountable odds.
Any LAN tournament that Astralis losses from this point forward is a lost opportunity for them to further cement their legacy.
2. Team Liquid
Some would say that FaZe Clan’s sheer firepower makes them a better team than Team Liquid, and they’d have a strong argument for their case. However, FaZe Clan haven’t exactly had a good showing in a while. On the other hand, Team Liquid, despite all of the criticism of them always falling short of winning a title, have been to multiple Grand Finals in the past few months, and that was with an arguably weaker roster.
Bolstered by the added firepower that Stewie2K brings to their roster, Team Liquid are now in prime position to finally take the Astralis-sized monkey off of their backs.
3. FaZe Clan
One of the best collections of firepower and talent in all of CS:GO, the success of the current FaZe Clan lineup is predicated on how well the team’s current IGL, Nikola ‘NiKo‘ Kovač, can put himself and his teammates in the best position to succeed.
There’s a reason why teams very rarely put their best player on the IGL position. The added stress of coordinating your team and making sure that everyone is playing to their maximum potential, including yourself, makes for a bad combination. But, then again, NiKo has proven it can work. He has a title at EPICENTER 2018 to show for his efforts, among others.
With someone like Dauren ‘AdreN‘ Kystaubayev, who’s likely motivated to prove himself again after being benched by Gambit Esports, now on board, and a coach that can reign the team in when things get too hot in Janko ‘YNk‘ Paunović, FaZe Clan have everything that they could possibly need to succeed.
Fnatic feasted on the opportunity to play against lesser teams at the PLG Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, winning the tournament while dropping only a single game. They needed this confidence booster after bombing out early during the group stages of EPL Season 8 and ECS Season 6, following what many considered as their coming-out party at IEM Chicago 2018 when they very nearly took out Astralis in the semifinals.
That particular performance was arguably the ceiling of this Fnatic lineup, which isn’t half-bad considering they were just a few fixable mistakes away from a Grand Finals appearance, and quite possibly, a title. But, as high as that ceiling may be, they remain far too inconsistent to be considered a top-tier team just yet.
If Freddy ‘KRIMZ‘ Johansson can find his form and the other usual suspects for Fnatic step up, they have all the makings of a potential dark horse contender at the iBUYPOWER Masters IV.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
At this point last year, Cloud9 were just weeks away from giving North America this first Major in the history of CS:GO. Now, they’re barely scraping by and are considered a Tier 2 team, at best. Of the Major-winning roster, only Will ‘RUSH‘ Wierzba and Timothy ‘autimatic‘ Ta remain, which speaks a lot to the kind of roster instability that this team had to go through in 2018 following their history-making run.
With Maikil ‘Golden‘ Selim and the rest of the lineup having had very little time to mesh together, don’t expect too much from Cloud9 at iBUYPOWER Masters IV.
6. Ghost Gaming
Ranked at #20 by HLTV, Joshua ‘steel‘ Nissan’s latest project has some serious potential, and they likely won’t have a problem placing against some of the teams at IBUYPOWER Masters IV. But, expecting them to make an impact when they’re set to face off against FaZe Clan and Team Liquid in Group B is too much to ask of the NA mix at this point.
7. Luminosity Gaming
Luminosity Gaming showcased some serious potential at DreamHack Atlanta 2018 back in November of last year when they finished in second place. However, the fact that they couldn’t even win a tournament with teams arguably of the same caliber as they are says a lot.
Placed in Group B, Luminosity Gaming, like Ghost Gaming, will have to rely on a lot of luck if they are to grab some wins over FaZe Clan and Team Liquid. Then again, even if by some miracle they can take out either of the two teams and win against Ghost Gaming, they’ll have even bigger challenges come the playoffs portion of iBUYPOWER Masters IV.
8. compLexity Gaming
compLexity Gaming’s chances of making a deep run at iBUYPOWER Masters IV are next to none. HLTV didn’t even include them in their most recent Top 30 rankings. It also certainly doesn’t help that they’re in Group A, where they’re set to face off against the likes of Cloud9 and Fnatic, as well as the monstrous Astralis.
If compLexity Gaming get lucky and manages to take a game off of one of those teams during the best-of-one group stage, they’ll have to pray hard that it happens at least twice for them to even have a remote chance of making it to the playoffs, and you know what they say about lighting striking twice on the same spot.
If there’s ever a tournament that teams have a good chance of taking out Astralis, it’s the iBUYPOWER Masters IV. But, then again, even if the members likely took a break during the holiday season, they’re already hard at work bootcamping together, as evidenced by their recent updates on their social media accounts.
Any team hoping to catch Astralis resting on their laurels will see another thing coming to them.
Of course, we can never fully predict what’s going to happen until it happens, and we have seen bigger upsets before. As mentioned earlier, the presence of Team Liquid and FaZe Clan makes things a lot more interesting, especially since Astralis will likely have to go through both to claim the title.
If nothing else, the iBUYPOWER Masters IV should help tide us fans over until competitive CS:GO shifts into higher gear and we’re seeing tournaments left and right again.
What do you think of each team’s chances of winning at IBUYPOWER Masters IV? Is Astralis essentially a shoo-in to win it all? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.