The world’s greatest eSports teams will converge on Sydney in May to battle it out for glory at the Intel Extreme Masters XIII. Fnatic, SK Gaming, Cloud9, FaZe Clan, Mousesports and Renegades are among the big names bidding to take home the lion’s share of a $250,000 prize purse. The tournament will display CS:GO at its very best over six epic days from May 1-6 and the winner will gain bragging rights over its rivals. It begins with group stage games and culminates in a thrilling three days playoffs clashes between the top teams before the trophy is raised in front of thousands of screaming fans at the Qudos Bank Arena.
Last year the tournament was a roaring success, as more than 7,000 spectators packed into the stadium each day, and it gained 8 million views online. Brazilian team SK Gaming surged into the Grand Final on the back of some superb results and it locked horns with FaZe Clan, picking up a 3-1 victory in the best of five clash. SK Gaming dropped only one map during the entire tournament to cement their position at the top of the CS:GO scene.
Fifteen years ago I dreamed, along with my peers of massive crowds filling an arena to watch eSports and this year we made that a reality,” said Nick Vanzetti, managing director at organizer ESL Australia after the tournament. “IEM Sydney is the result of years crafting that vision and supporting the market while building on opportunities. This is a new beginning for esports in Australia: we have set the standard and need to keep raising the bar.”
His team is certainly raising the bar, and the prize money, this year, and it promises to be another thrilling tournament. “We were always planning that it would be coming back,” said Vanzetti.“IEM Sydney 2017 was the largest eSports event ever held in Australia. A nation rallied and united as one, created an event which no fan or player will ever forget. The industry loved it, the fans loved it, the players loved it. How could we not come back?”
There are three squads from Down Under – Chiefs eSports Club, Grayhound Gaming, and ORDER – taking part, alongside the big names from North America, South America, Asia and Europe. There is also a $10,000 women-only CS:GO tournament that will culminate with a final at this year’s Intel Extreme Masters, featuring only teams from Oceania. It is designed to be a fantastic opportunity for local players to showcase their skills in front of a passionate audience at the Community Stage at IEM Sydney. “For ESL Australia, this announcement marks the beginning of a commitment for our team to develop more opportunities for women in eSports,” said Vanzetti.
Micha Blicharz, vice president of pro gaming at ESL, is expecting another amazing event: “What happened at last year’s Intel Extreme Masters Sydney event completely blew us away,” he said. “The Australian esports audience was extremely engaged in the event and became a part of the show. That type of atmosphere is very rare. They left us no choice but to come back and do it again.”
Check 5dimes for odds on favourites to win and you will see that it is set to be a close and exciting battle. Earlier this month we witnessed the culmination of IEM XII in Katowice and Fnatic produced a superb performance to beat FaZe Clan in the final and take home the lion’s share of the $500,000 prize pool. SK Gaming did not even make it to the quarter-finals, showing just how competitive the Global Offensive scene is right now, and it will be thrilling to watch to action unfold next month.