A new tournament, outside of ESL and BLAST organised events, has emerged in the form of Gamers8. This is much more than just a CS:GO tournament, as competitions in other games have been taking place under the Gamers8 name for the last month. What is most appealing about this tournament is the $1,000,000 prize pool, a figure only seen at the highest level of events. Another interesting aspect of this tournament is the single-elimination format the organisers have chosen to adopt the whole way through - the brackets will seem familiar to those who watch events like the World Cup. This means no second chances – one loss and you’re out.
Heroic vs. Team Falcons
Heroic are the favourites in this matchup, and are valued at 1.122* by Pinnacle in their opening match. Despite being one of the most consistent teams to make playoff appearances this year, they’ve also consistently struggled to obtain trophies. Luckily for them, they’ve got the easiest bracket of any team. It should be near impossible for them not make it to the semifinals, but if any team could lose to an underdog on the way to the final, Heroic are the team I’d bet on to do so. The reason I’m considering their run in the bracket the easiest is because Falcons, valued at 5.640* by Pinnacle, have an extreme lack of official matches played with their new roster. Their roster on paper has a lot of firepower, but their lack of official matches doesn’t inspire me with confidence. The other reason is that Apeks and GamerLegion, who we’ll discuss after this matchup, have gone through various changes, and shouldn’t be ready to compete with the current number one team in the world just yet. Heroic may face difficulties in the semifinals, but a loss prior to that stage would be concerning for this team after their performance at IEM Cologne.
Apeks vs. GamerLegion
Prior to their changes, this was a matchup that excited me due to how closely matched the teams were. Following their impressive runs at the BLAST.tv Paris Major, GamerLegion - valued by Pinnacle at 2.200* in this matchup – have undergone two player changes. Kamil "siuhy" Szkaradek and Ivan "iM" Mihai, two of the standout players for GamerLegion at the Paris Major, were picked up by bigger organisations and replaced by Sanzhar "neaLaN" Iskhakov and Sebastian "volt" Maloș. However, despite starting slow at IEM Cologne, they did manage to turn it around. On the other hand, Apeks, who are valued at 1.628* in this matchup, failed to make it past the Play-in stage. Whilst the firepower of Tim "nawwk" Jonasson, Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad, and Aleksandar "CacaNito" Kjulukoski immediately looks better than what GamerLegion have to offer, their recent showing would still push me to think that this match is closer than the odds suggest. Considering every game is a best-of-three, this is definitely a game to keep your eye on!
Cloud9 vs. fnatic
Ever since the leaks emerged surrounding Cloud9 (valued at 1.378* in this match), it has been nothing short of exciting to see them play. They got their first chance during the IEM Cologne Playoffs, after Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov was unable to play in the Group Stage. Although their first outing with their full roster was a 0-2 loss to Team Vitality, they at least showed signs of what this team has to offer. They are going to be a fierce competitor by the time Counter-Strike 2 is released, and possibly even beforehand. Their opponents, fnatic, who are valued at 2.900* in this match, also made changes during the player break, which were vital as the team seemed to have hit their ceiling. The addition of Christopher "dexter" Nong has allowed William "mezii" Merriman to be unleashed! This new-look fnatic did show promise at IEM Cologne, especially since they beat Cloud9 2-1 in their opening match there – granted, this was Cloud9 playing with a stand-in. This rematch is bound to be even more exciting than the first match, but I’d still hedge my bets towards Cloud9.
Team Liquid vs. ENCE
Liquid, valued at 2.290* in this opening match, were one of the most surprising teams to not make it through the IEM Cologne Play-in. Aside from Keith "NAF" Markovic and Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis, their players struggled to have much impact. This is still a very new system that they’re building, but I still can’t help but think “YEKINDAR” is wasted in the In-Game Leader (IGL) role. He’s going to have a tough time against Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer, who continues to impress as a top tier IGL. ENCE, valued at 1.578* in this match, have looked better and better as the year has gone on. They were able to pick up a trophy at IEM Dallas right before the player break, and have continued their stride with a second place finish at IEM Cologne. Shutting down Alvaro "SunPayus" Garcia is going to be key for Liquid in the match, but even that might not be enough with “Snappi” at the helm.
FaZe Clan vs. Virtus.pro
The great mystery of Virtus.pro’s whereabouts in Tier 1 competition is about to be solved, as they return to face some of the most elite teams at Gamers8. Their first opponent is FaZe, who are valued at 1.609* by Pinnacle, whilst VP are valued at 2.230*. I feel like this could be one of the opening matches with the most upset potential. Since winning ESL Challenger Katowice over ENCE in June, they’ve been extremely active in the CCT 2023 Online Finals 2 and Thunderpick World Championship 2023 Europe Series 1 – a tournament that really needs to find a way to shorten its name. They’ve looked great in both events so far, and all this game time is only going to be beneficial and keep their individuals sharp. On the other side of the matchup, FaZe still seem to be struggling with consistency. Considering this FaZe team have won every tournament a professional player could aspire to win during their career, it simply may be that there isn’t much left for this team to play for until CS2 brings a new challenge. Regardless, they’ve shown weakness that a team like Virtus.pro could capitalise on, but it’s still difficult to say that FaZe aren’t the better team on paper.
9INE vs. G2 Esports
Having just come off the back of winning IEM Cologne, Pinnacle values G2 at 1.272* in their opening matchup. There isn’t too much to say about G2, other than how good their individuals looked throughout IEM Cologne. Winning both IEM Katowice and IEM Cologne in the same year is extremely impressive. They have the more difficult side of the bracket, but a deep run should still be expected from them. 9INE are valued at 3.510* in this match, and I’d say this is a fair evaluation after their last place finish at IEM Cologne. It must be said that their losses were to ENCE and Cloud9, but considering G2 placed higher than both teams and beat ENCE in a best-of-five, it should be a G2 win here.
NAVI vs. FURIA
FURIA, valued at 2.790* in this match, looked lost during the IEM Cologne Play-in. They acquired Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and Marcelo "chelo" Cespedes in the player break, but it seems to have caused leadership problems. A cause for concern for many is how they failed to make it through the IEM Cologne Play-in. Given that they had the easiest route, as well as star players like Kaike "KSCERATO" Cerato and Yuri "yuurih" Boian, there is no reason they shouldn’t have made it to the main event. Their opponents, valued at 1.406* by Pinnacle, were also fairly underwhelming. This was the first time in the organisation’s history that NAVI failed to make the playoffs at IEM Cologne. The initial concern for NAVI is "iM" posting a 0.92 HLTV Rating at IEM Cologne and a 0.99 at BLAST Premier Fall Groups, after an MVP worthy performance at the BLAST.tv Paris Major. He is definitely a player to keep your eye on at this event, and could be a deciding factor in how far they go.
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MIBR vs. Vitality
Much like the 9INE vs. G2 match, there isn’t too much to say on this one. Vitality are valued at 1.091*, whilst MIBR are valued at 6.700* by Pinnacle. MIBR are simply outclassed here. It would take a heroic performance from Felipe "insani" Yuji for MIBR to even take a map in this series. Vitality have a “king of the hill” style run where, by beating their current opponent, they unlock a tougher one. They will be challenged in the later stages of this tournament, but much like Heroic, reaching only the semifinals would be a disappointment for this team.
*Odds subject to change.