ESL has revealed the opening matchups of the IEM Cologne Play-in stage as well as the group stage distribution of the eight directly invited teams to the $1 million tournament, which will mark the return of elite CS:GO to LAN for the first time since IEM Katowice in February 2020.
The Play-in portion of the landmark competition will see sixteen teams, who earned their place at the event through a combination of qualifiers, the ESL Pro Tour standings, and the ESL world ranking, compete for eight spots at the main event in a double-elimination playoffs bracket.
FaZe‘s clash with Evil Geniuses as well as a matchup between the two home teams, Sprout and BIG, headline the opening round of the Play-in stage, which will be played in best-of-one affairs before the rest of the double-elimination bracket moves on to a best-of-three setting.
Eight teams await their opponents in the main event group stage after topping the ESL Pro Tour standings. The tournament favorites and current No.1 side Gambit have been placed in Group A alongside G2, Virtus.pro, and Liquid, while Group B features Natus Vincere, Heroic, Astralis, and FURIA.
Less than two weeks remain before LAN competition returns with one of the most prestigious events in the year-round calendar. The IEM Cologne Play-in stage is set to kick off on July 6, with the main event set to follow on July 8-18.
Tuesday, July 6
12:00 NIP vs. LDLC
12:00 Bad News Bears vs. mousesports
12:00 Spirit vs. MIBR
13:30 Renegades vs. Vitality
13:40 OG vs. TeamOne
13:40 Sprout vs. BIG
15:00 Evil Geniuses vs. FaZe
15:20 Complexity vs. ViCi