Looking forward to IEM Cologne 2021

05 July 2021 - 09:40 By Matthew Stott
There are 16 teams that make up the IEM Cologne 2021 Play-In stage and they will be competing to secure themselves one of the eight spots available in the main event.
There are 16 teams that make up the IEM Cologne 2021 Play-In stage and they will be competing to secure themselves one of the eight spots available in the main event. 
Image: Supplied

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On the 8th of July 2021 the main event of IEM Cologne 2021 commences. 16 of the best teams in the world will be competing for a share of the mammoth $1 000 000 prize pool from the ESL studios in Germany.

The pandemic has plagued the esports scene and forced all competitions to be played online which completely impacts the integrity of the matches, however there are finally some signs that we could be soon returning to regular offline competition, albeit without crowds for now. IEM Cologne will be the first S-tier event that sees teams from around the world travelling to a central location to take part in the event since March 2020, which is a landmark for international CS:GO.

IEM Cologne 2021 structure 

The event is made up of two parts, firstly there is the IEM Cologne 2021 Play-In and then afterwards is the main event IEM Cologne 2021. There are 16 teams that make up the Play-In stage and they will be competing to secure themselves one of the eight spots available in the main event. 

Eight teams qualified directly to the main event through the Road To Cologne EU and Road To Cologne NA meaning they won’t have to compete in the Play-In, their spot in the main event is locked in already and they will be joined by eight teams from the Play-In.

Betting tips 

CS:GO offers a very wide variety when it comes to markets on offer to wager on. To keep things simple this article is going to focus on which teams have the best prospect of winning the event as a whole. These are the teams that have had great form recently and are probably the best options for bets throughout the event, having said that, at this level of competition upsets occur regularly and no bet is ‘safe’. 

Hot prospects 


The undisputed hottest prospect right now in international Counter-Strike is the CIS team Gambit. They have been making some serious waves throughout 2021 dominating practically every team that they come up against. They have made it to the final in 10 out of the 12 events they have competed in this year, of which they’ve won seven. 

Gambit forged their name during the speculative online era of CS:GO which has a lot of people questioning whether or not they will be able to have the same dominant performances offline, making this event a big opportunity for Gambit to showcase their capabilities. The CIS team will be keen to prove to everybody that regardless of the match environment, they are the best in the world. 

Coming into the event SportsBettingDime obviously has Gambit as the tournament favourites at +250. Right now, it’s tough to pick a team that genuinely has what it takes to topple this Gambit unit, so at +250 there’s definitely a reason to consider making this particular wager. Having said that, considering that this is the team’s first offline event since reaching the heights that they have, it might be a better option to avoid betting on them. 

Some teams can take a while to adapt to the notions of offline Counter-Strike and up until now Gambit remains untested in this particular environment. Personally I don’t believe that they will struggle to transition but I think that there’s an opportunity to wager on other options with more rewarding odds because of Gambit’s inexperience in the offline environment. 

Natus Vincere

According to HLTV, Na’Vi are currently ranked as the second best team in the world and they’re definitely worthy of that spot. Throughout the year Na’Vi have been showing signs of realising their potential. They’ve shifted flamie to the bench and given the youngster B1T a regular starting role in the squad.

Na’Vi have always had the potential to be the best team in the world and dominate everyone that they come up against but they always seem to lack that last layer to complete the feat. Often the bridesmaid and not too regularly the bride. Lately however Na’Vi have been in solid form, trading matches back and forth with Gambit, they’ve proven to be one of the very few teams that can compete with their CIS counterparts. 

Given the fact that (admittedly incredibly very tough but doable) Na’Vi can beat Gambit, they would be my next choice to win the event. Along with that they are LAN proven so there won’t be any speculations regarding that coming into the studio matches. Na’Vi is next in line to win the tournament at +300 which is a shade over Gambit so there’s a 20% extra reward for wagering on Na’Vi over Gambit. 


When the roster move of NiKo joining G2 was announced it was considered as one of the most exciting roster moves of the year. The project didn’t get off to an ideal start and there were a number of changes in personnel and roles within the team. After a few months they finally found stability and managed to rack up some consistent performances in the events that they were a part of. 

Coming into IEM Cologne 2021 G2 are in some solid form and will be feeling bullish about their chances. G2 have placed top 4 in the past 6 events that they’ve competed in, including a win at BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2021, which has built up some much needed momentum. A lot of people were starting to doubt this G2 project but it seems as though they’ve managed to change the general consensus with their recent results. 

G2’s odds to win are listed +600. Some seriously juicy odds but they certainly come along with a large element of risk. All of the individuals on G2 know what it takes to be successful in the offline environment so they’ll have that advantageous element on their side. The individuals on their team are well known to thrive in the offline setting when you couple that with their recent upward trajectory, G2 are a risky but rewarding wager. 


Keep in mind that this article discussed three of the 16 teams that will be competing in the event and that there are a lot of other teams to consider betting on too. All of the IEM Cologne 2021 action will be streamed via the ESL Twitch channel.

Remember to always bet responsibly.