What We Learned from IEM Chicago 2018

This past week, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive headed to the Windy City for the first time with IEM Chicago 2018 and it certainly did not disappoint.

Bearing witness to 16 teams from all over the world competing for the $250,000 prize pool and a point for the Intel Grand Slam Award, IEM Chicago 2018 kept audiences, both live and from all across the globe, on the end of their seats.

As is with any tournament, however, only one team emerged victorious. It was none other than Astralis, who walked away with yet another trophy in hand. But, unlike in previous showings, this was tight win that saw them at their most vulnerable, perhaps ever. They fought tooth and nail in every series. They barely walked away with a win against Fnatic in the semifinals. This was after they looked shaky earlier in the tournament against mousesports in the quarterfinals, as well as FaZe Clan during the group stages.

IEM Chicago 2018 wasn’t just about Astralis though. Other teams (and players) also used the tournament as their coming-out party, with Fnatic’s recent pick ups being prime examples.

Having said that, here are our five biggest takeaways from IEM Chicago 2018.

Astralis Needed This

IEM Chicago 2018

After having walked away with their seventh title of the year in such a fashion, Astralis will be even more dangerous with the lessons they’ve picked up from their latest win. (Astralis)

You know, it doesn’t hurt to bleed sometimes, and Astralis found themselves bodied, as well as beaten and very nearly bagged, on their way to winning IEM Chicago 2018.

After having looked nigh unstoppable for most of the year, Astralis showed signs of rust at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2018, which followed them through most of IEM Chicago 2018. Uncharacteristically sloppy and relying more on their individual talent rather than their superior team play and chemistry, Astralis looked good, but less like their former shelves.

Although this inferior form was enough against mousesports, the best CS:GO team in the world needed to dig deep to take the win against Fnatic in a particularly close series that may have just served as their proverbial wakeup call as they looked far crispier and better against Team Liquid in the Grand Finals.

While the win may have been a little bit too close for comfort for Astralis, it’s something that they absolutely needed and can learn from; it’s a reminder that, despite their overwhelming skill and talent, they can still lose if they drop their guard even just for a moment.

Team Liquid Are Alright

IEM Chicago 2018

It may have been another Grand Finals loss for Team Liquid, but they can raise their hands up high knowing that they’ve still got a high ceiling to work towards. (Team Liquid)

For as much flack as Team Liquid have received for losing in the Grand Finals of a tournament for the sixth time this year, with four of those losses coming against Astralis, they’re not exactly in a bad spot.

The thing is, it’s still an achievement to get to that point, and the fact that it’s taken Astralis to beat them is arguably an achievement in on itself. Not to mention, the team is young and has nowhere to go but up. Even if they stick together, more seasoning and experience from tough losses should only make the 18-year-old Russel ‘Twistzz‘ Van Dulken even better, and he’s already the team’s best player right now.

Even if a trophy win continues to elude Team Liquid until the year ends, so long as they can keep on doing what they’re doing, they’ll be fine and they don’t need to do anything else.

Fnatic’s Coming-Out Party

IEM Chicago 2018

Playing in just his second LAN with Fnatic, twist took no time proving his place on the team. (Fnatic)

Hands up if you ever would’ve thought that Fnatic would make it as far as being a match point away from taking out Astralis and quite possibly, winning IEM Chicago 2018.

No one in the right mind would have expected Fnatic’s run to happen. Although we’ve seen deeper runs built on less, Fnatic, for all of their success in the past, have not looked good lately. In fact, they haven’t made it this far in a tournament in more than half a year, with their record since littered with middling performances and early exits. That they had such a strong showing just weeks after picking up Simon ‘twist‘ Eliasson and Ludvig ‘Brollan‘ Brolin is even more amazing.

While it was the Swedish rifler Freddy ‘KRIMZ‘ Johansson who finished the tournament as the team’s top performer as he was tied for second overall with a 1.24 rating in 9 maps, the play of their recent additions was instrumental to their run and serves as validation for the team’s latest roster move.

A Top 4 finish isn’t much, especially for an organization so used to winning tournaments as Fnatic have. But, it is something, and if they can keep this up, they’ll have a legitimate shot at climbing up the ranks and disrupting the hierarchy.

What’s Next for LDLC?

IEM Chicago 2018

Team LDLC can use IEM Chicago 2018 was a stepping stone to improve and show everyone that their performance wasn’t just a one-time thing. (Team LDLC)

Heading into IEM Chicago 2018, LDLC was considered as a dark horse, at best. Although they have had a lot of good showings online, trading maps against the likes of FaZe Clan, Fnatic, Astralis, and mousesports, nobody really expected much from LDLC, especially since the tournament served as their first big LAN tournament.

Apparently, however, it was this “unknown” factor that allowed the Frenchmen to pull off what can only be described as an amazing run against some of the best CS:GO teams that the world had to offer. Although it all came to an end quite abruptly in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, courtesy of Team Liquid, it wasn’t before LDLC threatened to take the series for themselves.

This is as good of a learning experience that LDLC can have. If they can build on this, who knows? The phrase “greatest French CS:GO team” might not sound like such a back-handed compliment soon enough.

MIBR Have A Lot of Issues to Solve

IEM Chicago 2018

It’ll take a couple of huge tournament wins for MIBR not to pull the plug on their current roster and swap out a player or two for next year. (MIBR)

IEM Chicago 2018 was MIBR’s chance to erase their mediocre performance from BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2018 from their minds. But, for whatever reason, they just couldn’t deliver, and now, we’re back to the drawing board as we try to figure out exactly what’s wrong with MIBR.

It’s certainly not talent. They’re easily one of the most talented squads in the world. Marcelo ‘coldzera‘ David can still frag with the best of them, although he hasn’t exactly played his best in recent months, and the rest of the team are no slouches either. However, at IEM Chicago 2018, none of them stepped up as they lost to NRG eSports in the lower brackets of Group A and failed to make it out of the group stages.

To say that the team is in a stable condition would be flat out lying. No team can survive back-to-back disappointing performances without doubting themselves, especially when given the talent on the roster.

With the year coming to a close, don’t be surprised if MIBR decide to change things up.

Final Thoughts

IEM Chicago 2018 was one of the rare times that the best CS:GO teams in the world were all together, and it helped elevate the play of every team in the world, in addition to allowing for some of the bigger upsets that we’ve seen in recent memory.

With tournaments just as stacked scheduled in the next following weeks, we’ll likely see more and more upsets as teams try to find a way to end the year on a good note.

What do you think was the biggest takeaway from IEM Chicago 2018? Which team do you think under performed and over performed? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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