IEM Sydney 2019: FaZe and Liquid favourites

When it comes to the greatest CSGO LAN events, there are a lot of contenders for number one. As one of the oldest, most exciting esports in the space, CSGO is blessed to have amazing events in Cologne, New York, Rio and many other iconic cities, but when it comes to drinking beer out of shoes, none can compete with IEM Sydney, home of the shoey.

Some would say that is a reductive and insulting way to define what is rapidly becoming established as a tier-one event, to which most Aussie fans would say to shut up, and that they are proud of their full-footwear heritage just as much as any other part of the event. What makes this year special, with the leaps and bounds that Renegades have made, is the fact it will be the first there is a legitimate "home" contender for the title, which could make it the best IEM Sydney yet.

IEM Sydney 2019: Schedule, live streams and betting odds


Not quite the favourites

The headlines prior to the event kicking off have mainly revolved around the absence of a certain Danish team, but in many ways the pure excitement of the tournament is actually enhanced by the failure of Astralis to attend. The event last year, held in the first week of May, was won by FaZe, so we are not missing a defending champion, and that in itself may be a clue as to why the Danes aren’t here.

Even a year ago, FaZe were on the slide and Astralis were the best, so the Danes' loss to the EU mix may have been proof that the travel does hurt the normally fastidious level of preparation, as well as damage their ability to perform. Statistically, they actually ended up relying on Magisk more in the BO5 final against FaZe last year, and lost 3-0 to a GuardiaN-inspired team that still included karrigan, and had Xist as a sub.

Related: Five reasons to bet on Renegades at IEM Sydney 2019

In 2019, FaZe are still in attendance, but their status as reigning kings hasn’t been reflected in the odds, where it is Team Liquid who are most favoured coming into day one. In fact, for those who like to bet on CSGO, this could be one of the most open and exciting CS events we’ve had in some time, with five or six potential winners coming from the group invited, and no obvious favourite with the way recent results have been.


Big names

Before a gun is fired, Team Liquid come in rated as favourites, priced at 4.00 to FaZe’s 4.75, which makes a lot of sense even with the recent result at Blast Pro Series Miami taken into account, and some of FaZe’s recent play also. The Americans are a better five man team than FaZe, and have better players in all but one spot, with arguably only NiKo good enough to get into the TL squad if a move happened today. However, just a little way back is a whole bevy of teams that look poised to make it really spicy, all of whom have world class talent.

MIBR and NRG are both at 6 before they start to play, while Mousesports and Renegades find themselves a point back, both sitting on 7’s. Although close, we feel like those odds are almost backwards, at least in the case of the excellent Renegades team that come in as a home side, and the flaky recent performances of MIBR/NRG only goes to reaffirm that.

It’d be nice to say the same about Mousesports, but honestly their odds seem short for a team with no LAN play under their belts and some very unproven talent. Having said that, they are only a point ahead of Fnatic at 8, and the Swedes have extremely inconsistent performances, so after the top two it’s not easy to have confidence any team is good enough to bet on, which makes the tournament that much more exciting.


Who got the value?

If you like Fnatic at 8, you may want to consider another product of Sweden, with NiP rated a bit further back on 12. With BIG at 13.25 and Heroic at 19, those are the three teams that should in theory offer the best chance of a shock win, but the latter two are frankly useless right now when it comes to tournament performance, and the home crowd BIG enjoyed in Cologne is many miles away from carrying them this time around.

The rest of the competitors are still dangerous teams, but with the BO3’s kicking in after round one the likes of Greyhound, Vici and eUnited will most likely take their leave relatively early in the course of things. One note of posterity is also the appearance of Korean side MVP, who attend their first event in the wake of SK CSGO legends solo and glow leaving the squad, which is a real changing of the guard. The two legends may not have made marks at the major, but their contribution to Korean, and Asian CS cannot be understated.

Overall, it’s an event with a lot of potential winners, and with FaZe showing they still remember how to win tournaments we can hope for a high-level final as well. For the long term health of the game it would be amazing for Renegades to take a title in front of their home crowd, and the absence of Astralis would be nothing more than a footnote if they could, so we’re backing RNG to show the world how far they’ve come and break another record for OCE CSGO.

Pictures: Copyright Helena Kristiansson, Dylan Esguerra, Sarah-Cooper / ESL.