The good, the bad and the downright nasty at IEM Chicago

The Intel Extreme Masters road trip lands in the Windy City this weekend. Two groups of four teams will battle for a share of $250,000 in prize pool winnings.

One of the invited teams (forZe) couldn’t make it to the event due to visa issues. The vacant tournament slot was filled with team Heroic who lost to forZe in the final of the initial European qualifier. With the addition of Heroic the final tally of the participating teams and the groups were announced as follows:

With the event kicking off in 2 days, we have just enough time to cover the most interesting stories happening at the United Center in Chicago this weekend.

Vitality peaking

As the title suggests, we kick things off with the good. Team Vitality is at peak performance this season. The French squad is on an absolute roll that started back at the Charleroi Esports event back in April. Since then, they have placed first or second in 8 out of the last 10 events they attended, and are likely having the season of their careers. The team also peaked at #2 in the Global Rankings just two weeks ago and are now looking to challenge Team Liquid for the throne. The event features a group stage this time around and both Liquid and Vitality have been put in opposing groups pointing towards an interesting matchup in the later stages of the event.

Hardstuck ENCE

There is just enough space in the “Not great, not terrible” news section for ENCE. Although it is always #EZ4ENCE, the Finns have been struggling to close out events since the team’s inception. Each individual on the squad is a monster in his own rights when it comes to skill and performance, but as a squad they seem to lack that little “oompf” that would make them actually win events. ENCE is constantly placing among the top at every event they participate but they never seem to win a final or go past semis. Therefore, we have a special category for them and high hopes that IEM Chicago will be different.

Coldzera stays “benched”

We had the news of “the Bad” just before the BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles. Marcelo “coldzera” David benched indefinitely at mibr. Team coach Wilton “zews” Prado took his place in Los Angeles and is set to take his place in Chicago as well. Mibr was already struggling with coldzera on board this season, with zews the downward spiral is set to bring the team to an all-time low in placements if they do not fix up their roster sooner.

Liquid building bank

Liquid hit their #1 Global Ranking two weeks ago. At the time everyone assumed they would remain at the top for a week or two until Astralis reappeared and they would go back to 2nd as usual. Astralis came back weaker than ever and couldn’t contest Liquid’s dominance as the team lifted the trophy at the last five events they attended. The downright nasty play in the summer portion of the season is building them a nice point bank before the upcoming Starladder Major and ESL New York. A win in Chicago is likely to set Team Liquid far apart from the rest of the teams until the year-end events.


© Helena Kristiansson | ESL Gaming

All of the action at IEM Chicago kicks off tomorrow (July 18th) and the first round matchups were announced:

18:00 – Liquid vs Envy
18:00 – mibr vs G2
21:50 – Vitality vs Heroic
21:50 – Renegades vs ENCE

It is worth mentioning that, IEM Chicago marks the start of the Intel Grand Slam Season 3 which features a new set of conditions which we will cover in a separate article.

Until then, tune in to this weekend for all the action.