We Say Our First Goodbyes at IEM Oakland

by Steven Cropley

(Photo: IEM)

The IEM Oakland group stage as concluded and with it we say goodbye to Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, and TyLoo from Group A while Cloud9, Heroic, and mousesports will be taking the early leave from Group B.

TyLoo and mousesports would have the most disappointing showing, exiting the tournament with a defeated record of 0-5. Both teams leave with a -34 round differential and will have a lot to reflect on for their future.

Natus Vincere continues to disappoint. One of the strongest teams on paper has gone out in the group stage after suffering a 16-6 thrashing against Liquid to kick off the event. Although they followed it up with a win over TyLoo, a 16-14 win over the last team in the group does not provide much positive to take away. They would drop 16-9 to a resurgent Astralis and find a groove against G2 Esports for their second win before falling to Immortals in overtime to end their tournament life. Although it seemed they would make it out of groups when looking in, after seeing their first match go the way of Liquid it appeared Na’Vi may make an early exit and they did.

On the other side, Liquid impressed and surprised fans when they pulled off the one-sided victory over Na’Vi, however, their next match just about voided the momentary hype. Astralis would defeat the North American team by a ridiculous 16-1 score line and crush the confidence gained by their early victory. Liquid did manage to bounce back to put up a strong fight against Immortals, but would ultimately fall 16-14. Their tournament hopes would stay alive until the end, however, as they grabbed the win versus TyLoo before taking G2 into overtime where they would be unable to hold on and therefore forced to bow out of the event with a 2-3 record.

(Photo: IEM)

Cloud9 who were coming in looking to match their results in Brazil for the ESL Pro League finals would start off slow, losing their first three matches before winning out. A narrow 19-17 loss in overtime in their first match to the group's number one seed FaZe Clan would haunt them as SK Gaming and Ninjas in Pyjamas would both take wins over the American side to send them packing.

Heroic surprised many when they kicked off their tournament with a win over SK but would follow it up with an embarrassing 16-3 defeat at the hands of FaZe. A 16-11 win over the 0-5 mousesports was the extent of Heroic’s success from that point on and a 2-3 record would not be enough to move on.

(Photo: IEM)

The group stage provided several surprises and also many disappointments as the excitement that was built around the Asian powerhouse of TyLoo has been dismantled and the spectacle that is Aleksandr  “s1mple” Kostyliev will not be putting on a show this weekend on the stage. The positives may be found in the two North American teams, although neither will be on display on their home field. With Cloud9 continuing to show they can compete with the top teams in the world, win or lose, and Liquid looking improved after the addition of Wilton “zews” Prado as head coach. If Liquid can come away with the positives and use their time focusing on fixing the negatives, they will provide another quality opponent for teams like OpTic Gaming and Cloud9 to face and improve with and therefore aid the rise of North American Counter-Strike as a whole.