IEM Cologne 2023: Final Preview – The Final Victor at the Cathedral of CS:GO

Published: Aug 6, 2023

Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened. As CS:GO and indeed CS:GO events come to a close. As we gather one last time to watch the best two teams of the event, at the IEM Cologne Final. It’s a perfect time to reflect on not only where we’ve come from. But also where we’re going. For I wholly expect that in 2024 we shall see the first IEM Cologne Final of CS2 to be remembered for years to come as will be this. The last ever IEM Cologne Final lies before us, who will come out the victor? Who will be cemented in history?

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What We Leave Behind

Since the first CS:GO Cologne final, where NIP cemented their legacy and lifted the trophy before the screaming crowd. There was a victor at Cologne each year since, allowing for the years of the global pandemic. Right up until Faze’s victory over Na’Vi last year. A crown on the jewel that cemented them as the best team in the world at the time.

Completing the Triumvirate, Katowice, The Major and finally Cologne. It is an achievement even some of the very best have never arrived at. The best team to ever play CS:GO, the most decorated and successful in all its history. The line-up to take four majors, to feature the player with the most major victories. The man who attended every single major Dupreeh. Astralis never took home IEM Cologne. Device never won an IEM Cologne Final.

Na’Vi took their last in 2021, sweeping G2 cleanly in the final. But this was not the first IEM Cologne Final that the legendary organisation has conquered. To win at Cologne once is a feat that not many can even dream of achieving. S1mple and Electronic need not dream, as their victory in 2021 was merely a repeat of their achievements in 2018. In the era following S1mple’s return from Liquid to Europe and his joining of Na’VI. As the world had all its eyes on him, in the twilight of Zeus’ career. Na’Vi took down a rising BIG Clan. An age that had not yet seen the three-peat of Astralis’ back-to-back-to-back Major run. An age that thought they were seeing a potential beginning to Na’Vi’s own era.

IEM Cologne 2023 Finals Preview
Image: BLAST

To win twice is huge for any player. Respect for the victors of the IEM Cologne Final is assumed each year. It takes a strong team to navigate the full length of the prestigious tournament. So to win it not only twice. But in sequential years. That’s truly unthinkable. But for the Brazilian scene not much unthinkable hasn’t been done. FNX was exchanged for Felps, but the result was just the same. Fallen, Coldzera, Fer, and Taco lifted their second Cologne trophy just a year after their first. A clean sweep in the 2016 final over Liquid in the B03. And the same result in 2017 but merely in a B05 Vs Cloud9. The twice major winners had their second at Cologne. A Major is a piece of CSGO history that shall long outlast the game itself. And Cologne was graced with two.

The Future is Now

So what comes next? Who will be the first in CS2 to join those who walked before them? To join NIP, Fnatic, SK, Na’vi, Liquid, Faze and our to-be-determined victor. To stand amongst Legends as a victor of an IEM Cologne Final. Will history repeat itself and if so how? Could we see a previous victor step up to carry the torch again? Could NiP show there is still life in Swedish Counter-Strike, and come into this new game swinging as they did with CS:GO? One thing is assured, if there is Counter-Strike to be played there should always be a tournament in Cologne.

iem cologne ninjas in pyjamas
Image: Ninjas in Pyjamas

What lies in wait for Cologne? As an event, it has stood out head and shoulders above the masses. Identified as producing quality games and finals populated with the best teams the Counter-Strike scene has to offer. But the recent change to Valve’s policy will affect how teams qualify for all events going forward, and thus Cologne as well. Events are as of 2025, only allowed to invite teams based on Valve’s own ranking. Any other teams must be put through open qualifiers.

Of the sixteen teams present, eight were invited at ESL’s discretion via their own ranking system. It was only the other half that qualified. A peek at Valve’s own ranking suggests they haven’t perfected a manner in which to weight events, in its infancy. And moving forward should this not improve, it would be pertinent for open qualifies to be the way to go to put the least amount of limitation upon teams. But also on the quality of Counter-Strike that graces the event. To allow Cologne to uphold its prestige.

IEM Cologne 2023 Final: G2 Esports vs ENCE Preview

As we discuss the old and the new. It’s important also to keep our minds in the present. As we stand on the precipice of naming our final champion at an IEM Cologne Final in CSGO.

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Image Credits: ESL

G2 having conquered their demons in the group stage, faced Astralis once more in the semis. A team they had bested before in the tournament. In their first meeting, Astralis took the series the distance, putting G2 on the back foot. But Niko’s resolve today seemed doubled since last they’d met. He took them apart with blistering pace and lethal precision, posting a 1.41 rating.

Cs2 is said to be geared towards aimers, with cheesy smoke tactics gone and Counter-Strike’s best-ever Rifler looking to secure a win at Cologne. Could G2 be on the verge of clicking, of starting an era? Could Niko be making his case for player of the year against Zywoo? With M0nesy at his side, in and his own form throughout this tournament, there’s a good chance ENCE will be overwhelmed by firepower alone.

But don’t count ENCE out just yet. As Cloud9 or Na’Vi will gleefully tell you, Niko and finals mix like oil and water. And a team is only as strong as its weakest link. On that basis, ENCE has quite the case as the potential winner for the IEM Cologne Final. While the org’s reputation is growing, they are most assuredly considered the underdog here. A team known for selling its stars to ensure the organisation can profit.

Image: GRID

Nobody can argue that selling Spinx did not make their position look dire. But Snappi has earned his way to this final with blood, sweat and tears. Since breaking into the scene the IGL has conquered but one event, Dallas this year. But despite losing what most of the community saw as his greatest assets, despite being discounted in the discussion around top IGLs.

Snappi has taken rising young stars and bound them together in a team driven to achieve greatness. Taking down the star he lost in Spinx, along with the recent Major Champions has put him one step away from repeating success he has only just gotten a taste for. With Nertz and Sunpayus firing on all cylinders, now is the time.

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The End

There can only be one winner of the IEM Cologne Final. One of these teams will cement their organisation in history as an IEM Cologne champion for the first time, regardless of the victor. Whether it be in the favourite, the organisation rife with so many Counter-Strike ‘what if?’s it could rival Marvel.

The organisation that has found itself home to Counter-Strike’s greatest Rifler and one of its potentially biggest upcoming Stars. Or the supposed one-hit-wonder. The organisation that captured our hearts with AleksiB, but reeled us in with the promise of more and championed Snappi to take the reins. Everyone loves an underdog story. Regardless of the victor, let’s enjoy an IEM Cologne Final in CSGO together, one last time.

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Jacob Crick

Since: June 27, 2023

A computer science graduate with a passion for writing, Jacob found his way to esports by watching EnvyUs highlights from the 2015 CSGO major. Eight years later, he's a knowledge base for and avid follower of the beautiful game of Counter-Strike, with further specialisation in League of Legends and Valorant, but a commitment to general knowledge in and around the esports space. Oh yeah, and he's still an Apex fan all these years later. La la la Vitality.

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