Previewing Intel Extreme Masters Season XII – Teams, Odds, and Rankings

Season XII of Intel Extreme Masters is going to be exceptional, because ESL have relaxed their roster transfer rule. This means that teams like Virtus.Pro, Team Liquid and Renegades, who might otherwise have been unable to compete because of roster changes, will now be able to do so. Another good thing is that no core player is missing from the lineup of any team due to visa issues. Yes, everyone who is anyone in the CS:GO universe will be here, battling it out for that two hundred and fifty thousand dollar championship payout.


Teams at Intel Extreme Masters – Who’s here, and Why…

Seven of out the sixteen teams present are here on invitation, these being Astralis, Cloud9, Faze Clan, G2 Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, SK Gaming and Virtus.pro. AVANGAR have qualified for this event by winning the Farmskins Championship. Heroic, Fnatic, North and Gambit Esports entered the main event by taking the top four slots in the European Qualifiers. Team Liquid and Renegades were the top two teams in the North American Qualifiers, and Tyloo and ORDER are the winners of the Asian and Oceania Qualifiers. We’ll be going over the teams and weighing, not only their chances of winning at Intel Extreme Masters, but also their reliability in play, and how likely they are to win in any given situation.


Which teams are likely to deliver the best odds?

AVANGAR and Heroic are definite earners here, especially if they are put up against North, Fnatic, Virtus.pro, Gambit Esports and Renegades. Since both AVANGAR and Heroic are seen as weaker than the other teams we’ve named, the odds on them will be considerably higher. Also, both AVANGAR and Heroic have performed quite well in the last two months and can certainly beat the teams we’ve listed. Of course, higher odds do represent an element of risk, but it is a balanced risk, and likely to result in big winnings. Let’s take a look at each of the participating teams at Intel Extreme Masters.


 FaZe Clan

FaZe Clan still rank first globally, and, all in all, are probably the finest team of hand-picked veterans in the world. However, their performances in the last six months have ranged from the unreliable to the positively dismal. It’s a fact that they only rank first at the moment because SK Gaming have fallen in the rankings through some dismal plays of their own. FaZe Clan are still a feared team, and no team would go up against them lightly, but they have won just three leagues out of twelve in the last six months. While they do have a chance here, it is evident that SK Gaming are the real contenders for the top spot here. SK Gaming were good before they took on boltz – since they took him on, they’ve only become better.

FaZe Clan may be at the top, but they cannot be trusted for a win, and certainly not to win Intel Extreme Masters. We wouldn’t call them weak, but they tend to fall apart during playoffs. FaZe Clan still have a seventy one percent win rate in LAN matches, which is all but overwhelming. They’re a good team, but if they don’t feel like playing optimally, those who bet on them lose their stakes.


Cloud9

Cloud9 have been doing extremely well since the start of this year, and now hold the second spot globally, leaving SK Gaming in the rear. The team put out some rather lacklustre plays after their roster change about six months ago. But they’ve shown steady improvement since then, and now are one of the most dominating teams on the planet. They’ve also taken three titles in that time, which is hardly a superlative record – on the other hand, it’s quite equal to FaZe Clan’s.

Everyone thought their win at the ELEAGUE Major this year was a fluke, but they’ve proved them wrong with their consistently good performances, and their taking the second spot in the global ranking is proof of this. Cloud9 are a highly reliable team, and you can back them for a win against almost any team in the CS:GO universe. However, getting good odds on them might be difficult, unless they go up against SK Gaming or FaZe Clan. Their current win rate in offline matches is sixty percent.


SK Gaming

SK Gaming have dominated the CS:GO universe for a long time. They have won twelve major titles since FalleN joined the team. They’ve been through just two roster changes. The first was when they replaced fnx with felps, and the second was when they replaced felps with boltz. The four core players remain the same, and are very effective in matches. Their current win rate with boltz on the team is sixty seven percent.

However, there’s been a significant loss in performance this year, and analysts have noticed that TACO is not playing quite as well as he used to do. SK Gaming can be quite ruthless when it comes to non-performing players, and if TACO doesn’t return to form, he just could be in danger of being replaced. We may see a roster change if SK Gaming fail to take at least two more major titles before July of this year. How they do at Intel Extreme Masters will certainly be a clue as to where this team is going this year.

Image Credit: SK Gaming


Mousesports

Mousesports are a very old esports organization and were not doing well for many years. However, in the last few months, they have massively improved their performances, and now rank as the equal of just about any other tier one team, and stand fourth in the global ranking. This team has risen like a proverbial phoenix from the ashes, to slam their way into the top four. This team have worked hard to get where they are, and this is something that is clearly evident when they play. They still have room to improve, though, and do sometimes lose matches they should have won.

Their weak point is the banning and picking phase, of a game, where they tend to make errors of strategy. It sometimes feels like they pick or ban matches entirely at random. Sometimes, these choices work out – at other times, they most certainly don’t. The team has sometimes gone so far as to ban their own best map, and to pick their weakest one, which, in a top-tier CS:GO team, is all but unforgivable. Nevertheless, mousesports are a truly great team. Mousesports have won fifty nine percent of the matches they’ve played.


Fnatic

Fnatic currently rank fifth globally, but it’s not through their own efforts, but rather due to the fact that G2 Esports have not been playing as well as is their norm, and Astralis have been having serious problems from which they are only now recovered. This team is showing an inspired level of incompetence, and the fact that they rank high globally is a wonderful opportunity for bettors to earn at good odds by betting on any reasonably competent team that goes up against them. Fnatic perform miserably in LAN events, and their current win rate is about forth four percent. This team may not make the playoffs of Intel Extreme Masters.


G2 Esports

G2 Esports seem to have set out to redefine the word ‘unreliable’. They have a brilliant lineup, but seem to be incapable of turning out wins once they reach the playoffs, in recent months. They start out brilliantly in the group stages of an event, churning out victory after victory. Sometimes they will not take a single loss all through the group stages. However, once they reach the playoffs, the first competent team that goes against them boots them from the event.

This is a team going downhill, and you must not let their win rate of sixty two percent fool you into placing money on them. Or rather, stake on them without hesitation in the group stages, where they tend to turn out the wins – if you get good odds on them, of course. However, once they reach the playoffs, either avoid their matches, or bet against them if they’re pitted against a reasonably competent team. This team is certain to qualify for the playoffs of Intel Extreme Masters, though. They always do.


Astralis

Astralis have just recovered from a lot of serious issues, that ranged from dev1ce’s serious illness, to kjaerbye leaving their ranks. But make no mistake, this team are back in business. Even when things were at their worst, their team spirit never wavered. They held their course, and dupreeh and other core members of the team did everything they could to hold things together. They even arranged for competent stand-ins in their most troubled time, namely dennis and RUBINO. Now, with dupreeh and dev1ce back to their original roles, the team has been putting out some extremely good plays. We just have to see whether their playing remains reliable, but for now, Astralis are back, and certainly doing very well. Astralis have a sixty two percent win rate with their present roster, which includes Magisk.


Ninjas in Pyjamas

We really had some hopes for this team after they hired dennis. However, things haven’t gone too well since then, with them winning two matches out of four with dennis on their roster. The two matches that they won were against Space Soldiers, who are a reasonably respectable team, and one of the matches dragged into overtime. However, their losses have been tragic. They lost their best map against Fnatic, who are playing anything but competently. This means that Ninjas in Pyjamas, as of now, are capable of making even a reasonably incompetent team look competent with regards to themselves. Their wins are random, and their losses reliable. Bet against them if you get good odds.


Team Liquid

Team Liquid are back in the field after a rather difficult time, fielding steel and NAF on their upgraded roster, winning twenty one out of thirty two matches played. They’ve even defeated SK Gaming twice, first at the CS Summit 2, and then in the StarSeries. They were finally shut down by mousesports there, but Team Liquid played very well, with the whole team focused and very organized. Team Liquid may be number nine in the global rankings, but they are definitely on their way up, and if they continue to play consistently, will soon be in the top five. They could reach the playoffs of Intel Extreme Masters.

Image Credit: SK Gaming


North

North‘s performances have been lacklustre, and this despite some serious changes to their roster. The team just doesn’t seem to be able to perform well. They started out well, but their successes are limited to online matches and going up against tier two teams. North have played six LAN matches, and lost four of them. This places them among the seriously under-performing teams this year. In online matches, their wins this year have been against teams like AGO Esports, Vega Squadron and HellRaisers. They fought Heroic twice, once online, and again in a LAN match, and lost both times. Bet against them if you’re getting good odds on the opposing team, and they can serve as an opportunity for reasonable earnings.


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