We are finally here. The IEM Cologne 2022 main event is underway and after an exciting Play-In event we have all 16 teams ready to go head-to-head in the $972.000 LAN-event in Cologne, Germany. To kick things off at IEM Cologne 2022, a Scandinavian brawl between Ninjas in Pyjamas and Heroic took place in Group A. After a very successful run at the Play-In event, Heroic were expected to take home the victory when the two rosters faced each other. Once the Bo3-series got underway, however, a different pattern became apparent. Instead, it was the Swedish-based NiP roster who proved more resilient and who were able to walk away from the battle with a victory under their belt and a spot in the upper semi-finals of their group.
The first map of the Bo3-series took place on Ancient and was picked by the Danes of Heroic. Sharing many of the same strong maps with NiP, the choice for the Danes was a hard one. Perhaps surprisingly, Heroic opted for Ancient as their map pick, the worst-performing map for the Danish roster. In the past three months, Heroic have only found success on Ancient 40% of the times they have played it (5 maps). Whilst NiP have struggled recently on Ancient it is a map that they have picked in the past, and it showed. The first half of Ancient was neck and neck with little separating the two teams. At the scoreline of 8-7, the two rosters switched sides with things as close as possible. The second half of Ancient continued in a close fashion, however, with "hampus" leading his offense by example, it was the Ninjas in Pyjamas who could ultimately claim victory at the scoreline of 16-13.
The second map of the Scandinavian brawl took place on Inferno and was, of course, picked by NiP. Inferno is a map that both rosters are incredibly strong on and could have picked as their map pick. After a close battle on Ancient, it seemed as if another close brawl was definitely on the cards for Inferno. And close it was. Carrying over the theme from Ancient, NiP posted an incredible performance on their T-side of Inferno as well. Thanks to great mid-round calls from the Swedish IGL "hampus", NiP were able to go to halftime with a 10-5 lead. The second half saw a Heroic roster finally wake up and bring the fight to the Swedes. Things were just about as close as possible between the two rosters, however, ultimately it was the Ninjas in Pyjamas to prove more resilient in the dying stages of Inferno. At the scoreline of 16-13 NiP managed to close out Inferno, secure a 2-0 victory against the Danes of Heroic, and get off to a great start at IEM Cologne 2022.
Highlight of the Bo3-series:
NiP - Heroic 2-0 | IEM Cologne
16-13 (Ancient) | hampus - 1.61 Rating / 29-18 K-D / 110.1 ADR
16-13 (Inferno) | es3tag - 1.49 Rating / 25-15 K-D / 66.2 ADR
MVP: Hampus "hampus" Poser - 1.40 Rating / 52-35 K-D / 97.3 ADR