Over the weekend at IEM Sydney the crowd went wild as Team Liquid won their first title towards the Intel Grand Slam.
For the third year in a row, Intel Extreme Masters returned to Sydney for an action-packed weekend of Counter-Strike. The Australian crowd is often crowned the best in the world with so much energy and appreciation for the game. We are less serious when it comes to being at a professional event but are all about the atmosphere. Whether it’s singing the National Anthem or chanting ‘f*** you Overwatch’ to the stage next door. The shoeys were less frequent this year after the audience was warned by IEM Nick about excessive drinking behaviour but that didn’t stop the crowd from getting rowdy. Fans got creative making towers out of pizza boxes or plastic cups, which security wasn’t too pleased about either.
The event had plenty more to offer outside of the Counter-Strike matches. The Overwatch Contenders were played on the second stage where ORDER beat out the Sydney Drop Bears for the title. The many booths and community areas around the arena displayed all the gaming gear you could ever need. Wanted to try out some VR or the latest gaming laptop? Then you were in luck, with so many games ready to jump into. Of course, everyone loves some free stuff and there was plenty of that. From free mouse-pads and light up lanyards to top tier keyboards and headsets. There were plenty of opportunities to grab a freebie or win a prize.
Day One – Quarterfinals
Day one of the event was quarterfinals day that saw MiBR vs mousesports and NiP vs Fnatic. MiBR took their series 2-0 against mouz but not before they took to overtime on the first map. Next up was the longest series of the tournament that saw triple overtime in the second map alone. After NiP finally took the match from Fnatic it was evened up at 1-1 and went to a third map. With another two overtimes in the third map, Fnatic finally closed it out and the crowd seemed to be happier that it was over and they could go home.
Day Two – Semifinals
Semifinals day was Fnatic vs NRG and MiBR vs Team Liquid. NRG and Team Liquid had already earned their spot in the semifinals before the live matches on day one. Fnatic, as the underdogs, managed to beat NRG 2-1 starting to show some of their old Fnatic flair. Even pushing them to overtime, mibr, unfortunately, could not best Team Liquid. The North American boys were certainly living up to their world number two ranking. This meant that a new team would be winning the third IEM Sydney as both previous winners, FaZe Clan and MiBR, were now out.
Day Three – The Caches
IEM Sydney would not be complete without the Caches. Before the best of five was to begin, the Australians battled it out against the English. The rivalry between SPUNJ and HenryG was as strong as ever and they brought out the big guns for this match. First, it was HenryG stealing Gratisfaction from the Renegades lineup, seeing as he is a New Zealander after all. Both teams were then down a player and needed to fill the spot quick.
Team UK summoned Bad Fallen from MiBR, Fallen’s alter ego that comes out after his team is knocked out. But SPUNJ couldn’t let him have all the fun and answered the crowd’s ‘We want Dick’ chants by bringing out the one and only Dick Stacy from Grayhound Gaming. As a twist for this year, the game was played on Vertigo instead of Cache to the delight of the crowd. The match was close but for the third time in a row, the Australians took home the glory.
Day Three – Grand Finals
Day three was time for the Grand Finals, the two teams left were Fnatic and Team Liquid. The Swedish two-time major champions, Fnatic. Up against the North Americans and second best in the world, Team Liquid. The best of five series was a hell of a back and forth ordeal. Fnatic took the first map on Cache 16-10 setting up an exciting night. They then made it difficult for Team Liquid to claim back the second map on Overpass 16-14.
The North Americans took the third map on Mirage a little easier from the Swedes 16-8 but Fnatic showed them they could do one better taking the fourth map on Dust II 16-6. It then came down Inferno where ultimately Team Liquid was too good for Fnatic and took the final map 16-9. Wrapping up the series and the weekend, Team Liquid earn the tournament win and their first towards the Intel Grand Slam. The North American team have been close to a title so many times and just missed out. Some say they have a curse and others say they are just known for choking.
But now they have broken that curse.
Fans of the YouTuber group Misfits were also treated to a spontaneous visit following chants for them to join the crowd. SwaggerSouls promptly removed his helmet for a cheeky shot for the live stream before they all sat down and enjoyed a couple of rounds of the Grand Final. Before long they were escorted back to their private box where Zuckles graced the crowd with a shoey. The boys also held a signing session on Semifinals day that was packed and had to be extended in order to get to everyone.
The third IEM in a row was one of the best yet, boasting one of the best quarterfinal series this year. We hope to see this event continue for a long time and maybe the crowd will even get its wish for an Australian Major. For more photos check out our Instagram @gamersclassified.