SK Gaming run rampant in Sydney, win championship and $100K in prize

IEM XII Sydney Champions
IEM XII Sydney Champions
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The first major IEM CS:GO event in Australia, IEM Sydney 2017, was dominated by SK Gaming, who claimed the $100,000 first place prize.

The Brazilians only dropped one game in the entire tournament on their way to the title and they finally seem to be back on top form, with the former world number one team ploughing through VG (China), North (Denmark), Astralis (Denmark), OpTic (North America) and FaZe Clan (Europe) to secure the championship.

Felps, formerly of second top Brazilian squad Immortals, seems to have finally clicked with his new teammates and shone in his fragger role alongside TACO. Meanwhile, the three-man combo of coldzera, fer and felps are almost unstoppable when on form, particularly when it comes to pure fragging.

After struggling during portions of 2016, it appears that SK Gaming have sky rocketed back to the top. Interestingly they have done this off the back of a different map pool than in their heyday early last year, and this shows the overall talent within the squad. In particular, after taking a step back from numerous tournaments over the past couple of months to focus on his in-game shot calling, FalleN’s in-game performance has returned to its previous high level.

If this line-up and level of play persists then come the next major – the PGL Major Krakow 2017 in July – SK will almost certainly be the favourites for the event. As always though, anything can happen between now and then.

 

 

Map selection changes

Train has been the clear winner since the removal of Dust 2 earlier in the year, with the seldom used map now favoured by many of the top teams. SK Gaming, FaZe Clan and Astralis have all shown a preference for this map, largely because it can be easily swung by using strong Terrorist side tactics, even on hard economies.

Consequently, continue to expect Train to be a staple in future tournaments, particularly for squads that are able to succeed upon it, at least until the revamped Dust 2 returns to competitive play.

One surprise at IEM Sydney was the lack of Mirage, with the once extremely popular map in best-of-one clashes falling to the least played in the tournament. Teams like SK Gaming, whose rise to power was based on Mirage, have removed the map from their pool almost entirely. This too will be something to watch heading into the summer.

Away from SK, NiKo finally leaving mousesports has been a godsend for both the player and rain, with the duo putting up some insane numbers since the Bosnian joined FaZe Clan. Rain was already inside the world’s top 10 players before NiKo joined the team, but the roster move has allowed both to be more open with their gameplay. Meanwhile, former Astralis player karrigan continues to be one of the top in-game leaders in CS:GO, with the Danish puppet master doing great work since joining FaZe.

 

 

Winners and losers of IEM Sydney

Winners

SK Gaming – With Astralis and FaZe Clan in the field, how the Brazilians would fare was somewhat uncertain heading into the tournament. However, SK Gaming left fans in no doubt this past week, only losing one game across the whole competition – the third in the best-of-five Finals to FaZe Clan. This was a 16-13 defeat on Inferno and in reality the Finals could very easily have been a 3-0 sweep for SK. In this run, coldzera continued to be a strong contender for best player in the world, with the 22-year-old leading the way in the tournament-securing 16-11 win on Overpass with a game high 29 kills.

OpTic Gaming – The Green Wall had a stand-in but they were still able to navigate their way through the Swiss system Group Stage to qualify for the Playoffs. OpTic had to use their coach hazed for the tournament, with the former CLG in-game leader generally holding his own. OpTic ran into the wall that was SK Gaming in the semifinals though, falling in convincing fashion 16-1 16-7 to the Brazilians.

 

 

Losers

North – The biggest losers of the tournament have to be North, with the second-best Danish CS:GO team anticipated to reach the Playoffs at the very least. North started the tournament strongly with an expected win over OpTic Gaming, but then lost three straight games to SK Gaming, FaZe Clan and most shockingly of all local side Chiefs eSports Club. The Danes were seen as a dark horse to win this event and vastly underperformed.

Renegades – The former Australia-based organization were the first and only team from Australian Counter Strike to pack up and move to North America after dominating the region for multiple years. In their first trip back home, Renegades were surprisingly knocked out at the Group Stage. They fell to former rivals Chiefs eSports Club 16-5 on Train and could only muster 12 total rounds in their three losses during the event. A single 16-5 victory over bottom side ViCi Gaming was little consolation for the Aussies, who finished seventh out of the eight teams.

 

 

Overall then IEM XII Sydney 2017 was an excellent event and the return of SK Gaming to the summit of the CS:GO world is major news. It sets up a very interesting summer for all involved as time will tell whether the Brazilians can recapture their former glory.