Australia finally gets a CSGO event happening on its timezone and this afternoon the IEM Sydney champion will be crowned. The game takes place at an ungodly hour for UK based viewers but the fixture promises to be worth an early start on Sunday morning. Both SK Gaming and FaZe Clan have locked up $40,000 so far and there’s an additional $60,000 going to the winner of the final. Perhaps more importantly, FaZe Clan have a legitimate claim to be named the number one team in the world if they are able to win this match, so CSGO Betting brings you our IEM Sydney betting tips.
In the Swiss system group stage, SK beat both ViCi Gaming and North on Cobblestone, and Astralis on Inferno, prior to a demolition of OpTic in the semi-final 16-1 on Train and 16-7 on Overpass. FaZe had a much more difficult route, facing world number one Astralis in their semi-final, where they avenged a questionable group stage loss on Cobble, and also won the deciding map, Train, 16-9, after losing on their own pick, Nuke. Their three victories in the earlier part of the tournament came over Renegades on Mirage, North on Cache and OpTic on Train.
SK Gaming (20/23, 1.88 Unikrn) vs FaZe Clan (107/100, 2.07 GGBet)
The match will be a best of five and the bans look relatively straightforward. When the two sides met a month ago at StarLadder, SK removed Nuke, Inferno and Cache, whilst FaZe banned Cobblestone, Overpass and Mirage. SK perma bans Nuke, which happens to be one of FaZe’s best maps, so they will remove that. With Cache a weak SK map, and Mirage a stronger FaZe map, their decision will be between Cobble and Overpass. Whilst they beat Astralis on it in the semi-final, they have only just started to play it, and the same goes for Astralis. Both teams sole reason for playing the map is to get an advantage in the veto against each other, and FaZe are likely to have prepared a specific strategy for facing Astralis. As such, they should remove Cobble.
As Nuke will not be in the map pool, none of the maps have a significant disadvantage starting on a particular side, so we should see the teams pick their best maps early on. Thus, it’s likely FaZe will pick Inferno and SK will pick Overpass, followed by Train and Cache respectively, and finally Mirage.
SK have been very inconsistent on Inferno, with a 16-12 victory over Astralis at IEM Sydney being their highlight. However, this is less important than their loss to Gambit at cs_summit, where they looked lost on T side. This has been a problem in all of their matches, with the exception of their narrow win over Cloud9 with Braxton “swag” Pierce. They will have to rack up a huge number of CT rounds in order to atone for that deficiency, which is unlikely against a FaZe roster that are so deadly with deagles and on force buys. FaZe’s online form has built on their victories over Astralis and G2 (who have looked like Inferno is one map they can actually play) at StarLadder and they will go into Inferno as strong favourites.
FaZe have avoided playing Overpass and their online form is not particularly inspirational. We have to look back to IEM Katowice for when they last played it offline, where they lost 16-12 to Astralis but beat Immortals. It is not a particularly bad map for FaZe and they do have the chance to cause an upset. The Brazilians enjoy playing the map and losses to G2 and Na’Vi cast some doubt as to how straightforward this will be. These are more likely blips in their record and they will expect to win Overpass. FaZe banned it against Astralis and it can be inferred from that ban that they have not been practising the map as much as others.
It is difficult to get a handle on SK’s competency on Cache, and the best indicator is probably their reluctance to play it against teams that have shown some ability on the map. Whilst their form on it has been reasonable, they have only beaten Gambit, a poor Cache team, EnVyUs and North. Their online form on it has been shaky and whilst they could come out on top, FaZe will fancy their chances. FaZe have been shaky on it, with their loss to HellRaisers at StarLadder a particular lowlight, whilst Gambit posed them far more problems than they did SK, and they have traded games with North on the map. This will come down to whether FaZe perform at that level, or the one they demonstrated at IEM Katowice when they asserted their dominance over Astralis and NiP. That will depend heavily on whether SK can shut down Nikola “NiKo” Kovač or whether he is allowed to stamp his authority on a map that he favours.
FaZe have looked incredibly strong on Train and they have followed up their easy victory over an SK side who looked lost at StarLadder with wins against Astralis, OpTic, VP, HellRaisers and G2. SK have missed Lincoln “fnx” Lau and have reportedly tried to switch up their roles on Train in an attempt to make it the fortress it was for them in 2016. The manner of their victory against OpTic here in Sydney gives them some hope, but FaZe are favoured here.
Since the addition of Joao “felps” Vasconcellos, SK’s Mirage has appeared to be a map on which they are more cohesive as a unit. Their T-side mid control is the staple of their strategy on this map, with frequent boosts into window allowing them to execute powerful splits onto the A site. A series of victories over tier 2 teams, capped by a slaughter of Virtus Pro, who admittedly underperformed at StarLadder, will give them confidence for what will be their toughest test yet on Mirage. FaZe are strong on the map, but for some reason have avoided playing it against SK previously, and their offline form post DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, where they did not yet have Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, has been good. All their matches have been very close, but a 16-14 defeat to Astralis is the only blip whilst they beat North, HellRaisers and Immortals. Mirage could be the map that decides who will win IEM Sydney.
FaZe seem likely to pick up Inferno and Train, whilst SK should win Overpass and Cache, though the chance of an upset seems significantly higher on the latter two maps. SK are slightly favoured on Mirage too, but given that FaZe are the outsiders, it should pay to side with them as they should pick up one of the three maps that they will need to go alongside the two where they will be extremely confident.
IEM Sydney Betting Tips:
FaZe to beat SK Gaming with GGBet at 107/100 (2.07)
FaZe 3-0 vs SK Gaming with Marathonbet Esports at 69/10 (7.90)
FaZe 3-1 vs SK Gaming with Marathonbet Esports at 41/10 (5.10)