There are four clear favourites entering the IEM Season XII World Championship European Qualifier this weekend, as teams battle for an invitation to the World Championships to be held in Katowice, Poland starting at the end of the month.
Mousesports the team to beat
Mousesports enter as a favourite based on their overall talent, coupled with their solid form as of late. Mousesports have seen a steady rise in the rankings for quite some time now, continually improving their teamplay due to having a stacked roster talent-wise. Oskar and ropz have been the core of this team ever since their addition to the roster, while also bringing in the likes of suNny, who also has the ability to carry an entire map by himself. One crucial note for mousesports is their willingness to play Nuke, a map banned by a majority of teams in the world currently, giving them a major edge when entering the map veto stage.
Golden leads the way for Fnatic
Fnatic are another team on the rise, with in-game leader Golden leading the way. Golden has continued to improve with this roster ever since his addition to the team, more so in terms of tactics rather than in terms of kills. The key player that has stepped up in terms of kills ever since the addition of Golden has been KRIMZ, who has been in excellent form as of late. Once considered the best support player in the world, KRIMZ has continued his tear through the recent Boston ELEAGUE Major, where Fnatic narrowly fell to SK Gaming, one of the two best teams in the world, 1-2 in the quarterfinals. Fnatic do, at times, play down to their opponents, which is a concern for a qualifier such as this, but generally speaking, the overall skill and recent form that Fnatic have shown leads them to being a favourite.
Gambit are another team slowly rising through the ranks, continually outperforming expectations ever since the loss of Zeus to Natus Vincere, who have generally struggled since. While peaking at the Major, Gambit’s overall level has been maintained as a top-ten team in the world, showing that despite their narrow losses in the Swiss system group stage at the Major when losing to SK, QB Fire, and Fnatic. AdreN and Hobbit have continued their run of good form and essentially carried this team thus far, with the occasional quality map from the likes of AWPer mou. Gambit are another odd team with a willingness to play Nuke, giving them some of the same advantages mousesports have. Gambit’s aggressive style is great for a qualifier, as they should be able to steamroll past the weaker competition, while being able to battle the likes of Fnatic and Na` Vi should those pairings occur.
Na` Vi the fourth favourite
The other favourite, by only a slim margin compared to other teams in the pool, is Na` Vi, who had a much better showing at the Major than anticipated. Na` Vi had been in a prolonged drought, with superstar s1mple having to single-handedly carry them map in and map out. Yet the Major showed signs of life from flamie and electronic, giving hope that Na` Vi has finally returned to form. Na` Vi are the least consistent of any of the favourites, given their recent slump, with only one event with any form of positivity surrounding them. However, the other teams close to them in the qualifier have their own issues. North, after completing bombing out at the Major, have revamped their lineup with two new members (including the benching of star player k0nfig). Team EnVyUs are also going through a lineup change, while also having their star player RpK only recently return from a major illness.
One quiet threat is HellRaiseres, who just got bondik back into the starting lineup. ANGE1 is one of the most underrated in-game leaders in the entire world, and if they catch Na` Vi at the right moment, they could spring an upset.
It all sets up as a fascinating encounter with mousesports, Fnatic, Gambit and North – rather than Na` Vi – given a first-round bye and awaiting the winners of the Phase One matchup between the other eight sides.