On Thursday we start the actual playoffs of IEM Fall 2021. These playoffs are full of teams that were surprises to make it, Thursday is no exception. Lock is at 11:00 am EDT again and the 2 games are:
NiP (79% implied win probability) vs Movistar Riders
Vitality (72%) vs Copenhagen Flames
Sub Risk/Roster Changes
Player pool is correct.
There is one big question on this slate and one sort of sub-question. The big question is can either underdog win? Copenhagen actually went undefeated in their group, although when you look at who’s actually in that group it’s a bit less impressive. G2, Mouz, and Big have all struggled lately, FPX is a T2/3 team, and Aura are even below that. Plus, we can’t forget group stage was all Bo1, which are inherently more volatile. Furthermore, the map matchup is bad, as Copenhagen’s most played map of Ancient is Vitality’s perma-ban. Vitality’s “worst” map is Dust 2, which is CPHF’s perma-ban. Vitality even play and are solid on Copenhagen’s 2nd best map of Vertigo. What I’m trying to say is, it feels very unlikely that Copenhagen beat Vitality in a Bo3.
In the other game, Movistar Riders squeaked out a 2nd place in a group that had Astralis, Heroic, Complexity, Sinners, and Endpoint. To their credit they beat both Sinner and Heroic in the tiebreaker (which is literally just OT, like first to 4 wins). NIP went undefeated through what was likely the weakest group, only having to beat Faze, Fiend, DBL Poney, Skade, and Fnatic. I do think Movistar Riders are because discounted a bit by Vegas because of lack of name recognition. Alex (not to be confused with the Alex who is on Fnatic) and Sunpayus are legit players, and I think Movistar Riders can give NiP a run for their money. Do I think they’ll actually win a Bo3? Probably not, but I’d rather stack them than Copenhagen. They do have a similar map issue to CPHF where NiP almost always ban Vertigo and that’s MR’s most played, but they’re also strong on Inferno and Nuke.
Still the most likely outcome is both favorites win, in which case the sub-question becomes, should we one-off anyone from the underdogs? I’ve already mentioned them, but both Alex and Sunpayus are right at the top of the slate in FP/r over the past month, at 2 and 3 respectively behind Zywoo. Either is worth a look as a one-off. On the CPHF side I find it harder to one off them because their “best” player is Roej, who I don’t think is very good. He really seems to struggle frequently against these T1 teams. My one off of choice would actually be nicodooz. Since he does most of the AWPing, he should be a little bit more matchup-proof.
I spent a ton of time talking about the underdogs because the favorites are very obvious who to play. From Vitality, Zywoo will of course be monstrous chalk, with Apex probably 2nd on the team in rostership, and Shox(?) probably a fairly distant 3rd. Misutaaa will probably have the least rostership, which as usual makes him a good GPP play even though his stats have definitely fallen off of late.
On the NiP side, I’d expect Device, LNZ, and probably Rez to be pretty popular, with Hampus likely in the “under-rostered because of price” spot that Misutaaa is in for Vitality. Hampus is a solid GPP play as well, especially in NiP 3 stacks as he’s so aggressive that if he’s doing really well it probably means NiP are rolling.
To Zywoo or not to Zywoo? You can get a fairly solid lineup with Zywoo captain, but you’ll likely have to pass on the Misutaaas and Hampuses of the world to fit him. That’s fine in cash and SE, but in GPP’s recognize that any lineup with Zywoo captain will likely be duped unless you do something fairly off the wall with your other 5 spots (like run 2 CPHF for example, which I honestly don’t hate if the series goes 3 maps). Device will likely also be popular enough at captain that pivoting to him for the sake of pivoting isn’t really a unique idea, you’ll again need to do something else in your lineup to differentiate.
Hampus and Misutaaa captain are pivots that I like, particularly Hampus. He’s been playing better than Misutaaa has of late, and has big upside if he’s on. Both should have low rostership, and are good GPP plays.
Going cheap is also an OK options. Apex and LNZ are my “pay down” captains of choice, but again I’d expect Apex at least to be fairly popular. You’ll again want to do something to differentiate your Apex captain lineup(s).
IF I stack Movistar Riders, Alex or Sunpayus are excellent captain options. They both have “top score on the slate” upside and are much cheaper than Zywoo is. Granted, if you’re stacking MR you can probably afford Zywoo captain, but both alex and Sunpayus do have the upside to outscore him if MR wins.
That’s it for me, good luck on Thursday!