Intel Extreme Masters Cologne About to Start Play-Ins

The IEM Cologne tournament is just around the corner. We break down all the teams competing and the opening day of the Play-Ins.

The best teams at Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in the world are currently gathering in Cologne, Germany, to battle it out in one of the year’s biggest tournaments at IEM Cologne 2023. Eight teams have already qualified for the Group Stage, while another 16 teams prepare to fight through the Play-In stage. You won’t want to miss any of the action when it starts Wednesday with Into The Breach vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas and MOUZ vs. The MongolZ. 

The 8 Waiting in Groups

Before making their way to Germany, eight teams have already staked their claim to one of the sixteen spots in the group stage. G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, Team Vitality, ENCE, Heroic, Cloud9, Natus Vincere, and GamerLegion are those teams. G2 Esports qualified by winning IEM Katowice 2023, and FaZe Clan won ESL Pro League Season 17. ENCE won IEM Dallas, and Team Vitality won both IEM Rio and the BLAST Major in Paris. 

Heroic, Cloud9, Natus Vincere, and GamerLegion all qualified via the ESL World Rankings. The European squad Heroic currently sits at the top of the rankings despite their biggest tournament win being the BLAST PREMIER: Spring Final 2023, where they finished above Team Vitality, G2 Esports, and FaZe Clan. 

Heroic, GamerLegion, Cloud9, and ENCE are waiting to see who will fill out the Group A bracket, while FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Natus Vincere, and Team Vitality await the teams in Group B. Only six teams in total will make it out of Groups and into the playoffs, but before any of the other teams can even think about qualifying out of groups, they’re gonna have to make it. 

Play-In Palooza

Sixteen teams are currently preparing for their Play-Ins, which will start on Wednesday, July 16th, at 8:30 AM Eastern Time. MOUZ, Apeks, and 9INE all qualified via ESL EU Rankings. FURIA Esports and Team Liquid qualified via ESL NA Rankings. Imperial Esports, The MongolZ, and Grayhound Gaming were all qualified to be the top-ranked teams from South America, Asia, and Oceania, respectively. 

Fnatic, Monte, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Astralis, Into The Breach, Complexity Gaming, and OG all qualified via the ESL World Rankings, and finally, BIG qualified by winning the Meisterschaft tournament. Though all the teams in Play-Ins took different routes to get to this point, there is no question that these teams all deserve to be there and present some sort of danger to their opponents. 

Play-Ins Schedule and Betting Odds

Two games, in particular, stand out when looking at the opening day’s slate of games. The first one that jumps out is Fnatic vs. Complexity Gaming at 9:45. This is going to be a clash in two staples of the Esports and, more importantly, Counter-Strike scene and should be a fun match. The other is OG vs. 9INE, a match oddsmakers are calling a pick ‘em. You won’t want to miss any of the action when the best teams clash in Cologne. All times listed are in Eastern Time.

Wednesday, July 26th

Into The Breach (+180) vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas (-240) – 8:30 AM

MOUZ (-600) vs. The MongolZ (+375) – 8:30 AM

Fnatic (-135) vs. Complexity Gaming (+105) -9:45 AM

OG (-115) vs. 9INE (-114) – 9:45 AM

Astralis (+115) vs. Team Liquid (-150) – 11 AM

Monte (-175) vs. Imperial Esports (+135) – 11 AM

Apeks (-155) vs. BIG (+120) – 12:15 PM

Grayhound Gaming (+255) vs. FURIA Esports (-360) – 12:15 PM