The best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams in the world are expected to be on hand when ESL Pro Tour continues in early July at Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Cologne 2021. This event returns in a LAN environment after being canceled last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Formally known as ESL One Cologne, the new name reflects the transition of all ESL Pro Tour Masters tournaments to the IEM brand. Currently perched atop the ESL CS:GO World Rankings by a wide margin, Gambit Esports also lead the way as heavy favorites to raise the hardware in Cologne for the second time. However, the Russian-based club can expect a stiff challenge from Natus Vincere, who sit second on both the ESL CS:GO World Rankings and the IEM Cologne odds.
MyTopSportsbooks takes a look at how the top teams in the Cathedral of Counter-Strike have fared on the road to Cologne. Sports bettors getting in on eSports wagering action for the first time should refer to our betting guide for tips on how to hone their betting strategies.
|Odds to Win IEM Cologne 2021|
|Bad New Bears||+15000||+15000|
Gambit Dominating the Rankings
Winners at ESL Cologne back in 2018, Gambit are well-positioned to take home the title again this time around. Winners in five tournaments so far in 2021, Gambit ascended to the top of the rankings back in March, and haven’t looked back. Among their triumphs so far this season are wins at IEM 15 Katowice, the Pinnacle Cup, and Intel Extreme Masters XVI – Summer.
✨ #PinnacleCup CHAMPIONS ✨
— Gambit Esports (@GambitEsports) April 4, 2021
The squad followed that up with an impressive performance earlier this month at BLAST Premier: Spring 2021, where they outpaced second-place Virtus.pro by a massive 225-point margin. While that impressive track record has lifted Gambit to the top of the odds as +300 favorites at BetUS, they maintain that perch by the narrowest of margins.
Natus Vincere Poised to Extend Winning Ways in Cologne
Gambit’s closest rivals on the ESL CS:GO World Rankings also closely trail them on the IEM Cologne odds. Top five finishers in three events since mid-May, Natus Vincere look to Cologne as strong +400 second favorites at BetUS. The Russian squad’s consistent results this season has kept them steadily positioned among the top five on the world rankings.
— Esports (@esports) June 21, 2021
The club has also shown steady improvement at this tournament in recent years. After getting past the quarter-finals just once in their previous four appearances Natus Vincere finally broke through at this event three years, overcoming a shaky group stage performance to claim victory in the Grand Final. The club has now finished no worse than second runners-up in each of the past three editions of ESL Cologne.
G2 Leads Best of the Rest
Further down the IEM Cologne odds at BetUS, G2 sits at +700, just ahead of Heroic at 800, while Vitality round out the front of the pack as a +900 bet. Participants at this event in just three of the past six years, G2 will have a lot to prove this time around. The Berlin-based club failed to qualify for Cologne two years ago and has now advanced past the quarter-finals in their past three appearances.
CS:GO World Rankings | 21.06.2021
Photo: A realer Gambit Esports 📸 pic.twitter.com/i5pMPHMHIn
— VIE (@VIE_Bet) June 22, 2021
G2 have made steady gains in recent months, finishing top five on four occasions since early May, capped by a third-place performance at BLAST Premier: Spring 2021. That success has vaulted them to their current position at No. 4 on the world rankings after lagging as far as No. 10 as recently as April. Unfortunately for G2, with this year’s edition of IEM Cologne taking place in a LAN environment, they will not enjoy the benefit of the hometown support that a live audience at an in-person event would have provided. Despite those challenges, the club offers exceptional betting value in its bid to claim its first win of the season. However, bettors should stick to steady bankroll management principles if considering a wager on this squad.
Can Team Liquid Bounce Back in Time to Defend Title?
The outlook is not so rosy for Team Liquid, who trail the favorites as a +1200 bet on the IEM Cologne odds at Bovada. The defending champions at this event, the Dutch club have seen little success on the ESL CS:GO circuit this season, with their lone victory to date coming at CS_Cummit 8, a medium-sized tournament held in May that featured none of the current IEM Cologne betting favorites.
— Stacy Estep (@XStacy85) July 7, 2019
However, it is tough to overlook this club in Cologne, where they have reached the Grand Final twice in the past five years, and knocked off Natus Vincere in the semi-finals in 2019. That is particularly true considering the lengthy +1700 odds this team sports at BetUS.
|IEM Cologne 2021: Region of Winner|
Look for the Europeans to Prevail
With Gambit and Natus Vincere leading the way to win this event, it is not surprising to see CIS emerge as the region favored to produce the winning team at this year’s IEM Cologne.
However, with G2 enjoying a steady rise in the rankings, and considering the past success that Liquid have had at this event, the better betting value can be found in the +120 odds of this year’s champion coming from Europe.