NIP, BIG, Complexity, and Vitality are some of the name that also qualified throught the play-in, joining the likes of Gambit, Natus Vincere, and G2 who were invited directly to the main stage. With that, 14 of the 15 best-ranked teams in the world are at IEM Cologne, with only OG missing out after an upset loss to Renegades.
Unlike the Play-In, the group stage of IEM Cologne won’t feature BO1 matches, with the action starting off with Gambit – mousesports and Liquid – NIP clashing in BO3 series on Thursday. Alongside them, four more teams are in group A: Virtus.pro, BIG, G2, and Complexity.
The biggest surprise of Cologne, scrappy underdogs Renegades (ranked No. 50) will face Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and co. in their first match, while Lucas “honda” Cano will have his LAN debut against Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut‘s Vitality. The two Danish sides, Astralis and Heroic, will play their first matches on Friday, against FaZe and Spirit, respectively.
The group bracket draw is as follows:
A double-elimination format will be used for the group stage, with three teams from each group advancing to the playoffs. Group winners will advance directly to the semi-finals, while the runners-up will face off against runners-up from the other group in the round-of-six.