3 Things to Know Before Watching Intel Extreme Masters
If you’ve never tuned in to an Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) event before, one of the most important things to know is that San Jose’s event isn’t just a one-off tournament. It marks the mid-point in a long and storied series. Organized by ESL and sponsored by Intel, IEM is the longest-running global eSports tournament series and marks many very important dates on gaming fans’ calendars. Instead of featuring competitors in just one game, IEM consists of a circuit of tournaments from a variety of games such as Counter-Strike (CS:GO), Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends (LoL) and more. And only the best players from around the world qualify for the IEM World Championship at the end of the season.
What to Know for San Jose
The next event on the calendar is the North American stop in San Jose on November 21 and 22. This leg of the series sees a second gathering of CS:GO players along with the first stop for the League of Legends teams. The total prize pool for the weekend is $150,000. Not too shabby.
The CS:GO tournament features some of the top teams from Europe, North and South America, pitted against one another in the SAP Center arena, home of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Online viewership should be impressive considering G2, Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Natus Vincere, Luminosity Gaming, Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro will be in attendance; all of whom have loyal fan bases. Noticeably absent is France’s Team EnVyUs, who announced on Twitter they would not be attending:
For the LoL portion of the weekend, six teams have been selected, four of which were voted into the tournament by the fans. Origen was selected from Europe, while Counter Logic and Team SoloMid were chosen from North America. Although fnatic also won the European fan vote, they had to back out and will be replaced by Unicorns of Love. The final vote from China allowed LGD-Gaming into the tournament. The sixth and final team, Korea’s Jin Air Green Wings, were invited directly to the event due to their ability to commit. Like CS:GO, LoL play will feature a single-elimination tournament, with the quarter and semi-finals being played over three rounds. The championship match will be played in a best-of-five match, which is sure to lead to some amazing play.
Who to Watch
Cloud9 is on a bit of a roll after recent wins at both the $100K iBUYPOWER Invitational, and the marathon RGN Pro Series LAN earlier this week. Team SoloMid, who are currently ranked number 1 in the world according to GosuGamers.net and were 3rd on Thorin’s CS:GO Top 10 World Rankings update on October 26, are likely to go deep into the tournament. G2 were able to make it on short notice after Ninjas in Pyjamas withdrew. It will be interesting to see how the team performs with new addition, aizy, as an unexpected result of the mini-shuffle in Europe that saw Fnatic’s long time IGL pronax, replaced by G2’s dennis.
Because the LoL World Championship winners KOO Tigers were not permitted to enter into the event, the main teams to watch at IEM will be Origen and SoloMid. Even though Origen is a relatively new team, they definitely boast the most consistent play. SoloMid, on the other hand, is somewhat of an unknown quantity as their team headed to IEM only has one returning member, Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. However, the new additions look strong, signalling that this might be SoloMid’s time to shine. The team with the best shot at scoring an upset would be LGD Gaming, who is lower in the rankings but has had some solid play of late.
What’s Happening in the End of the Season
The end of the season will see play return to Cologne for a much more intimate setting at the ESL studios December 18 to 20. Unlike the other stops on the IEM Calendar, it will only feature LoL teams. So far there isn’t too much information about the last two events on the calendar, though we anticipate it showcasing the best of the best. One will be taking place in Asia towards the end of January, and Championship Round will once again take place in Katowice, Poland sometime in March of 2016.
Out of all the eSports events, the IEM series is often the most exciting. It features a diverse set of games and fans can participate in the selection of teams for each event, ensuring an engaged and enthusiastic crowd. It’s clear why the series is now in its 10th season, and with no sign of slowing down, it’s definitely worth tuning in to.
Feature Image: Intel Extreme Masters
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