Intel Extreme Masters Chicago 2018

ESL has announced the list of invited teams, as well as the qualifier brackets, for the upcoming closed qualifiers for IEM Chicago.

Both North American and European qualifications kick off tomorrow and from the looks of it, it will be no easy feat for the competing teams. With only one team qualifying for the event, a long way lies ahead of the teams featuring a multitude of best-of-three games, topped off with a best-of-five finale. Additionally, a format with a lower bracket has been implemented, prolonging the climb to the Grand Finale for the teams that will drop down.

North America Qualifier

The North America qualifier will feature eight teams, namely: Cloud9, Blackout, Vision, Bravado Gaming, Swole Patrol, TeamOne, Anges Big Toe and eUnited.

Naturally,¬†Cloud9 is the favorite organization. However, after losing Tarik “tarik” Celik and Jake “Stewie2K” Yip to MIBR and failing to retain the amazing form which they presented during the Krakow Major, Cloud9 hasn’t looked the same. After being battered at the recent ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier, hopes are high that the new in-game leader Maikil “Golden” Selim and Martyn “Styko” Styk will perform up to par.

Can golden and Styko turn the tides for the suffering Cloud9?

Another notable team in the bracket isSwole Patrol.With the experienced Ryan “freakazoid” Abadir and the once prodigious Braxton “swag” Pierce on board, the line-up may be a notable opponent for Cloud9.

Additionally, eUnited and the South American TeamOne may be a surprise. Both teams have shown sparks of promise, and are currently #32 and #38 respectively on the hltv world ranking.

Europe Qualifier

The teams competing for qualification are North, Fragsters, ENCE Esports, Space Soldiers, Heroic, AVANGAR, Valiance, and Gambit.

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Comparing to the North America qualifier, the EU qualifier boasts a lot more talent. While the favorites in NA are definitely Cloud9, it is difficult to pick out one definite favorite in EU.

North¬†can be expected to show up big time. The Danish formation has fallen in the shadow of their home rivals, Astralis, this year. However, the potential and firepower that can be found on the team are definitely worth watching out for. With¬†Markus “Kj√¶rbye” Kjaerbye at the forefront, the organization has brought the 20-year-old talent Nikolaj “niko”¬†Kristensen over from¬†Heroic. To top it all off, the Danes are sitting at #10 in the hltv global ranking. North¬†is definitely one of the top contenders to successful¬†qualification to IEM Chicago.

Much the same can be said about ENCE. The brand new line-up introduced by the Finnish organization in early April has taken flight since. Consisting of experience in the form of¬†Aleksi “allu” Jalli as well as the surprising young talent in the shape of Jere “sergej” Salo, the Finns are already placed #14 on the global ranking. If ENCE can make such astounding progress in such little time, who knows what they can show within the next year or so?

Can allu lead ENCE to IEM Chicago?

On the other end lies the mysterious Gambit. Dosia and co. have won the PGL Major Krakow 2017 just a year ago. Since then, however, they have failed to show that same world-class quality and bold play that they have presented before. Maybe this is finally the time when we will see the former underdogs step up and shine like last year.

Both qualifiers kick off August 23. Meanwhile, the actual Intel Extreme Masters Chicago will run through November 6-11. You can find the full schedule here.

Moreover, you can read over the list of invited teams to IEM Chicago here.

As always, for more esport news and current updates, follow Daily Esports.

Naim Rosinski
I like to give out free AK-47 headshots in CS: GO, spend some quality time in the kitchen marinating a tender chicken breast and approximately 3 times a week I lift some relatively heavy metal stuff at the gym. Oh, and I also like to write about e-sports and everything related to gaming. Who knew one could have such contrasting interests?

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