We made our predictions, crossed our fingers, and hoped for the best. Sometimes, esports matches just don’t go like they should. That’s precisely what happened in the Group Stage of IEM Oakland.
In Group A, we predicted that SK Gaming and Astralis would take the first two seeds with Cloud9 and Ninjas in Pyjamas fighting for the third. In Group B, FaZe Clan and G2 Esports were supposed to make it for certain, while Gambit and Team Liquid fought for the third spot in the group.
In the Quarterfinals, the #2 seed from Group B, OpTic Gaming will face the #3 seed from Group A, SK Gaming in a best of 3 series. The #2 seed from Group A, Cloud9, will also play the #3 seed from Group B, Gambit Esports.
It might seem that SK Gaming gained by losing in the Group Stage and getting an easier opponent but the upsets in Group B mean that both teams they could have faced, OpTic Gaming and Gambit Esports, are objectively weaker than the Brazilians.
OpTic proved themselves in this tournament by winning against Team Liquid and edging out G2 Esports. On the other side of the Quarterfinals matchup, SK Gaming’s honeymoon period after the introduction of Ricardo “boltz” Prass to the lineup is over. The Brazilians lost against Astralis in a dramatic Overtime fiesta and Cloud9.
With that said, we have to believe in SK’s ability to turn it all around in the Quarterfinals. The team is just too experienced to let the Group Stage difficulties shake them when it matters the most. The talent on their team is considerably stronger than what OpTic Gaming can unleash upon the server.
It’s possible that the series will be close, however.
No matter the outcome, the winner of the series will advance to face Ninjas in Pyjamas in the Semifinals.
As the reigning Valve Major champions, Gambit should hold the edge in this match but that’s simply not the case. They seemed to be adapting well to the exit of their Great Leader Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko following the Major but it all went a bit wrong after that.
On the other side of the server will be the Cloud9 team which has been performing a bit better than Gambit over the last several months. They also had a harder road on their way to the Quarterfinals, winning against Astralis and SK Gaming in the Group Stage to Gambit’s wins against FaZe Clan and Renegades.
With all of that said, Gambit Esports does stand a good chance of taking a map off the Americans. Overall, C9 should come out ahead. Of course, CS:GO is unpredictable. Case in point—IEM Oakland Group Stage.
The winner of this Quarterfinals best of 3 will move on to face FaZe Clan.
Predicting the Unknown
Assuming that SK Gaming and Cloud9 advance to the Semifinals, Ninjas in Pyjamas will play SK Gaming, while FaZe Clan is challenged by Cloud9.
SK Gaming should have a clear advantage over the Swedes, especially when you take into account the fact that SK Gaming has already proved that they can win against NiP in IEM Oakland. The match wasn’t truly convincing by any means with the Brazilians winning 16-13 on Cobblestone.
On the other side of the Semifinals bracket, FaZe will be favored to win against Cloud9. They have been looking like a true super team following the acquisition of Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács with some unexpected booboos.
Assuming FaZe Clan can avoid tripping over their own feet in this tournament, they have the most stacked CS:GO team in the world. Despite the fact that Cloud9 has been playing great recently, they should only be able to take a single map in the series, if that. The level of pure talent is just not on the same level.
This turn of events would make for an extremely exciting Finals matchup between FaZe Clan and SK Gaming. Conveniently, the two teams are respectively ranked #2 and #1 in the world by HLTV.org.
If all of our predictions came to pass and FaZe did face SK Gaming in the Finals of IEM Oakland, we would have to give the nod to FaZe Clan. If the two teams played with the same five players for an equal amount of time, it would be harder to reach a decision, but now, with it being boltz’s second tournament on the SK lineup and FaZe Clan being more or less used to playing with each other by now, the Europeans do hold an advantage.
This clash between Finn “karrigan” Andersen and Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, two of the best in-game leaders playing the game currently, should be what every fan of great Counter-Strike wants to see in a best of 5 setting.