Twenty-four teams and 120 players are now hard at work preparing for one of the biggest tournaments of the year, IEM Cologne, which will see long-awaited LAN action return for the first time in 16 months later this week, kicking off on July 6 with the Play-in stage.
Boasting a seven-year history that began in 2014, when the German city hosted the third-ever CS:GO Major, the Cologne competition has established itself as one of the most prestigious tournaments in the calendar. Each year the event brings the best out of the players, and each year HLTV.org has awarded one with the MVP medal.
Adam “friberg” Friberg
ESL One was brought to Cologne for the first time in mid-2014, when the third Valve-sponsored Major was held as part of Gamescom. The third time was the charm for the legendary NIP, who had been unable to live up to their status of favorites at the previous two Majors with two consecutive losses in the finals, with friberg clinching his only MVP medal to date after leading the Swedes to victory.
Robin “flusha” Rönnquist
The fnatic era was in full swing when the second Major of 2015 arrived at the LANXESS arena, which would become the tournament’s home for years to come. The Swedish side turned up in terrifying form and became the first back-to-back Major champions following a dominant run spearheaded by flusha.
Marcelo “coldzera” David
The year of Brazilian Counter-Strike followed as SK, fresh off a transfer from Luminosity, came to Cologne to match fnatic‘s record and secure their second consecutive Major trophy themselves, with coldzera becoming the first back-to-back Major MVP.
After hosting the Valve-sponsored event for three consecutive years, Cologne lost its Major status in 2017 but remained a landmark competition that attracted the brunt of the world’s best teams. SK came out on top again in the fourth edition, with the highest honor going to FalleN this time after the Brazilians beat Cloud9 to the title.
Action returned to Cologne in 2018 at a time when Astralis were ramping up towards a mega-dominant year, having won three out of the previous four events. Natus Vincere proved a tough challenge, however, with s1mple in top shape as always, pulling his team over the finish line as NAVI beat the Danish powerhouse in the semis and ended BIG‘s Cinderella run in the title decider.
The spotlight was on Liquid in the second quarter of 2019, when they went on their Intel Grand Slam spree, securing the coveted $1 million prize in just over two months along with the Cologne title. None of their players could match ZywOo individually, however, as the Frenchman came out of the tournament as the MVP despite Vitality falling short in the grand final.
The 2020 edition of the tournament could not take place in Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the competition at least carried the spirit of the Counter-Strike Cathedral when it was split over the two main regions, Europe and North America. Heroic and Evil Geniuses came out victorious last year, with ZywOo snatching away another losing MVP, while Ethan won his second medal across the Atlantic.
Who will clinch the IEM Cologne 2021 MVP award powered by Bitskins?
In 2021, the prestigious tournament looks to bring CS:GO back where it belongs. For this year’s edition, we have partnered with Bitskins for the individual accolade, which will be awarded to the best player of the event as usual following the conclusion of the grand final in a little over two weeks’ time.
Featuring several legends of the game, the list of Cologne MVPs is quite the exclusive club. Will a new name join them or will one of the trio who are returning to the staple event as previous MVPs add another to their tally?