IEM Dallas is a big event in the ESL calendar, awarding a direct qualification spot for IEM Cologne to the victor. Sixteen teams will be taking part in two double-elimination groups, but which of these teams is best prepared after the Paris Major?
IEM Dallas is split into two groups. The eight teams that make up Group A are Heroic, 9z Team, fnatic, MOUZ, FURIA, OG, G2 Esports, and Nouns Esports. Heroic are the current favourites for the event, being valued at 2.890* to win it all. They looked dominant during the BLAST.tv Paris Major, despite falling short of the finals in an unexpected loss to GamerLegion. They’ll be looking to pick themselves back up quickly to earn a spot at IEM Cologne. They play 9z (ranked 40th on the HLTV World Ranking) in the first round, a game Heroic are valued at 1.158* to win.
Another favourite for the event in Group A is G2. The European mix will be disappointed by the result at the Paris Major, where they failed to make the playoffs. Luckily for them, they fall into the same side of the bracket as FURIA, OG, and Nouns. They face Nouns in the first game, in which G2 are valued at 1.114* to win. Given that Nouns are ranked 34th on the HLTV World Ranking, this should be a quick victory for Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and his team. Their second-round matchup would be against either OG or FURIA. OG are playing this event without their star AWPer, Abdulkhalik "degster" Gasanov, and FURIA went 0-3 in the Legends Stage of the Paris Major. G2 should be set up for a clean sweep into the upper bracket finals of Group A, but the Major showed us that anyone can be victim to an upset.
The final two teams are fnatic and MOUZ. This is the closest opening game at IEM Dallas. MOUZ are valued at 1.595* and fnatic at 2.260* in this matchup. Both teams had poor runs at the Paris Major, with MOUZ having the worst of the two. MOUZ were unable to qualify through the Challengers Stage, going out 0-3. This was quite the upset, as many had them making the Legends Stage with relative ease. On the other hand, fnatic had direct qualification to the Legends Stage, and faced some criticism for not beating any of the top opposition to get there. They were given an easier Legends Stage than most, and when it came time to face G2, they conquered them. This was all for nothing, however, as they were then upset by Into the Breach, a team many predicted to not win a single game at the event.
This seems to be the tougher of the two groups, featuring FaZe Clan, Evil Geniuses, ENCE, Complexity Gaming, Team Liquid, Astralis, Cloud9, and Grayhound Gaming. The positive for FaZe in this event is that they’ve already achieved qualification to IEM Cologne by winning the ESL Pro League Season 17. That being said, they’ve been awarded a game against Evil Geniuses in the first round. I say awarded as they are the lowest ranked team in attendance, and recently lost to a team outside of the top 100 in the rankings. Evil Geniuses have been struggling for some time, and as such are valued at 117.350* to win IEM Dallas.
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Cloud9 are favourites for the event, being valued at 4.740* to win the whole thing. This is an interesting team, as they have the star power to be one of the best, but weren’t even able to qualify for the Paris Major. They play Grayhound in the first round, another team that defied many predictions. Although this opener may not excite you, I’m sure seeing Liquid versus Astralis will. Many will remember this as a battle for number one all those years back during the Astralis era. Now it’s a match of uncertainty, leaving viewers wondering if either team can find consistency and regain the greatness they once held. This is another close match, with Pinnacle valuing Liquid at 1.793*, and Astralis at 1.952* to win this game.
The final matchup for Group B is ENCE versus Complexity. ENCE fell victim to Ninjas in Pyjamas in the Legends Stage, and were eliminated from the final CS:GO Major. Despite this, Guy "NertZ" Iluz continues to impress, and will be a formidable foe for any team that has to face ENCE. Complexity is valued at 58.940* to win IEM Dallas, which is fitting of their 1-3 scoreline in the Challengers Stage of the Paris Major. They’ll have a tough time facing ENCE, who are valued at 1.289* in this matchup.
*Odds are subject to change.