IEM Cologne 2022 – Post Play-In Breakdown & Disappointment Recap

We saw plenty of upsets happen at the IEM Cologne 2022 Play-In Stage. Our Play-In predictions were partially correct, yet plenty of teams had disappointing performances. Heading into the Main Stage portion, some interesting match-ups have developed.

Let’s break down the biggest winners and losers at IEM Cologne thus far.

IEM Cologne Post Play-In

BIG and Sprout crash and burn out early

One of the biggest USP’s of IEM Cologne 2022 for the fans coming in was the prospect of being able to watch two German teams – BIG and Sprout – in action. However, both teams have now been eliminated from the play-in stage of the competition.

While BIG were beaten 2-1 by Astralis, Sprout were handed a defeat by the same margin by Vitality. This now means the only German connection at the main stage of the tournament will be Jon “JDC” de Castro, who plays for MOUZ, a team that has advanced to the main stages of IEM Cologne.

The loss must particularly be a bitter pill to swallow for Sprout because they nearly had the toffee. They won (22-20) on Vertigo, but slipped on Dust II (16-11) and Overpass (16-10) courtesy key performances from the former Astralis duo of Emil “Magisk” Reif and Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen.

BIG crash and burn

Expectations were riding high on BIG, following impressive performances at IEM Dallas, Pinnacle Cup and Roobet Cup. The team – consisting of an all-German roster – started with a loss 16-14 on Nuke, but bounced back with a win on Dust-II to set up an exciting finale. But on the overpass, Astralis flexed their muscle courtesy Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke to secure victory.

BIG haven’t been helped by a slew of illnesses in the camp. It led to Josef “faveN” Baumann being substituted by former main team player and current academy player Nils “k1to” Gruhne. While the addition of Fatih “gobb” Dayik as head coach has been seen as a welcome move, results in big tournaments such as this is ultimately what counts. In many ways, it’s now back to the drawing board for them.

As such, the task for BIG and Astralis was steep because they found themselves in the lower bracket following early losses to Outsiders and 00Nation respectively. Where BIG faltered, Astralis found a winner in Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, the Danish star who banished his blow-hot-blow-cold image by rising to the occasion under pressure.

Expected and unexpected results

Meanwhile, on predicted lines, Heroic progressed to the main round following a 2-1 win over MOUZ in the second round of the play-ins upper bracket. The MVP was Martin “stavn” Lund, who ended the series with an outstanding +25 K/D difference, 97.8 ADR. He has easily been the side’s most prolific player this summer and is poised to take the team to greater heights over the next year or two.

Elsewhere, in what is seen as one of the biggest upsets of the Play-ins, TYLOO eliminated MIBR. The Chinese outfit has been tethering on the edge in other top-tier tournaments, most notably at PGL Major Antwerp. Once again here, they were found wanting, with TYLOO exposing their gaping holes to perfection. TYLOO’s win wasn’t just theirs but that also of the Asia Pacific region, courtesy a vital performance from ZhengHao “DANK1NG” Lv, who helped overturn his side’s loss on Inferno with their backs to the wall.

DANK1NG was TYLOO’s top fragger in the next two maps – Overpass (16-5) and Dust II (16-10). The Chinese AWPer was key to the reverse sweep, finishing with a 57-41 K/D, the better than any other player in the game, including MIBR’s AWPer Breno “brnz4n” Poletto, who fought valiantly to prevent his team’s elimination. TYLOO, however, couldn’t build on the high as they lost to MOUZ to crash out. MIBR, meanwhile, have to wait and watch, with no further tournaments left this summer.

00Nation wins TheLastClassico

In what was seen as a massive win, 00Nation beat Imperial in the Brazilian derby, which has been touted as the #TheLastClassico and secured an entry into the main stage of the tournament. The first-ever SKLASSICO derby was a riveting contest from start to finish.

Imperial were superbly placed to take the map after winning each of the four pistol rounds of the series but 00Nation won important semi-buys on Ancient and Overpass. They also displayed better team play and utility than their opponents. 00Nation won both maps 16-12. Their qualification was the biggest surprise of the play-in stage, but a team that overcomes Astralis and Imperial certainly deserves to be there.

The main stage of IEM Cologne will feature 16 teams and will run from July 7-10. Group A consists of NAVI, MOUZ, Heroic, NIP, G2, Movistar Riders, Team Vitality, ENCE. Group B has FaZe Clan, 00 Nation, Team Spirit, Team Liquid, Cloud9, Outsiders, Astralis, FURIA.