iBUYPOWER Masters IV is the first chance for a number of squads to show off a new five-man roster at a true LAN event.
Eight teams will gather in Los Angeles with the winning side taking home US$100,000. While far from insubstantial, the cheque will not be regarded as the most important thing by many – this is all about seeing how the new-look rosters perform and whether any of them appear equipped to challenge 2018’s dominant squad, Astralis, who start this event as the odds-on favourites at 1.649.
Tweaks at Liquid
Team Liquid are considered Astralis’ most likely challengers here – they are 2nd favourites at 5.970. Considered one of the best teams in the world at the conclusion of 2018, Liquid come in with both a player change and a new coach.
This move was essentially forced by TACO and zews, who both wanted to depart, but Liquid have done well considering the situation. Stewie2K coming in as the 5th member increases the skill level of this line-up and should give them a higher overall ceiling. This also allows for the possibility of him picking up the primary AWPer (sniper) position should Liquid wish to make that move.
The coaching change is the more difficult one to see as an upgrade, given adreN, a first-time coach, is replacing one of the most respected coaches in the game in zews.
Strange moves by compLexity
compLexity (16.930) had one of the more peculiar off-seasons, dropping both yay and ANDROID in place of Rickeh and n0thing, with the latter currently a temporary stand-in.
yay and ANDROID were the two players who showed the most promise during compLexity’s time at the London Major, but it appears compLexity wanted to fix some possible chemistry issues.
Rickeh is a versatile yet erratic player who will be a key man to watch as compLexity progress through the 2019 campaign. n0thing as a stand-in appears to be a solid decision, as he is a veteran presence who appears motivated to play his best, similar to when he stood in at mousesports previously. He can be a bit lackadaisical at times, however.
FaZe fine tune
FaZe Clan (7.470) are coming in with similar changes to Team Liquid, adding both a player and a new coach.
The player is AdreN, not to be confused with the aforementioned adreN. He joins from Gambit Esports. AdreN is one of the most consistent and stable players in the game, able to fill a myriad of roles to be the best player for that specific team.
This does mean NiKo will continue as in-game leader, which is an interesting decision, but the addition of YNk as a coach should help immensely. Considered the best on-air analyst before his first coaching opportunity with MIBR, YNk has history with NiKo and will be looking to work closely with him to set up the tactics of the squad.
YNk has a heap of pressure on him, given he did improve the MIBR roster but overall things were still a disaster.
FaZe are an incredibly dangerous team at this event and if they get hot early, they could well face-off in the final against Astralis.
Cloud9 (16.930) have brought in Zellsis as a stand-in, given the prolonged health struggles of in-game leader Golden.
Zellsis is a fairly unknown player, although he did perform well during his time at Swole Patrol. This, at least, does provide some stability in the short term for a Cloud9 squad who have constantly had players come in and out in order to cover for Golden.
This team is built around the abilities of star player autimatic, who even while picking up the primary AWP duties has continued to thrive.
kioShiMa has also had solid form since joining this squad, and his pairing with autimatic was just about the only positive for Cloud9 over the latter half of 2018.
Cloud9 open their campaign against Fnatic, a match which should be a solid measuring stick for both squads as they prepare for the rest of 2019.
Fnatic are 1.555 to win the clash with Cloud9 out at 2.470.