The final time IEM Cologne saw CS:GO in action

The Cathedral of Counter-Strike hosted its final CS:GO tournament. As a mark of respect and remembrance for the decade, the Lanxess Arena held a minute of silence. G2 Esports’ triumph over ENCE came over four maps to cement their name at the Lanxess Arena.

G2’s star player Niko secured the Cologne trophy for the first time in his career. Despite a storied career, the superstar player has never won IEM Cologne with any of his previous teams. G2’s 3-1 victory over ENCE came despite the IEM Dallas 2023 winners’ advantage in the map veto stage. 

The Grand Finals was a best-of-five affair and the first team to three maps would secure victory. This year it was G2 esports. Here’s how it all went down.

Map Veto

1. ENCE removed Inferno

2. G2 removed Overpass

3. ENCE picked Nuke

4. G2 picked Mirage

5. ENCE picked Anubis

6. G2 picked Ancient

7. Vertigo was left over

ENCE lose their map pick - and it was brutal

As you can see in the map veto, ENCE picked Nuke. Nuke has been one of their stronger maps with the team having an 83.3% win-rate on this map. However, G2 had different plans at the Cologne finals dominating ENCE with a 16-4 scoreline on Nuke. 

An 11-4 half-time score on the CT side was punctuated with excellent individual performances by mONESY and jks. However, Niko was the top of the scoreboard securing kills and ensuring his team has what it required to succeed. 

mONESY started the series strong with three kills in the first pistol round on the back of a set play by G2. The youngster’s ability to get headshots despite being the entry fragger makes him one of the most dangerous opponents to face. And it was all on display during G2’s victory at Cologne. 

After the 11-4 start, it was only a matter of time, and rounds that G2 would secure the first map. It was a brutal blow to ENCE fans who were expecting a victory and most definitely a much closer map than a 4-16 loss. 

G2 secure IEM Cologne 2023 (3-1) over ENCE

ENCE inch closer on Mirage

The second map was G2’s map pick of Mirage. After the brutal loss on Nuke, ENCE had to try to make as much of Mirage as they could. Mirage is a decent map for both teams with G2 having a 64% win-rate while ENCE had a 50-50 split. Regardless it would come down to which team performed better when it mattered the most during the match.

ENCE won the pistol and secured themselves a 4-0 start on the CT-side. However, once G2 had guns in their hands, they seemed much more comfortable and strung together a few rounds to break ENCE’s economy. The exchange of rounds continued and it ended with a 8-7 lead for ENCE at half-time. Despite the solid 4-0 start, ENCE’s 8-7 lead was not a great look for the team as they switched sides.

G2 one-upped their opponents with seven straight CT round victories after switching sides. ENCE seemed to have no answer to G2’s defense, often being surprised by their opponents’ quick rotations. In some cases, G2 would gamble on one bomb site it proved to be the right one, giving them an immense advantage. 

G2 won Mirage 16-10 largely helped due to their dominant CT side. ENCE put up a much-better fight, but they are now down two maps and had to win the next three maps in order to win the championship. 

G2 lost on Anubis

After two dominant performances, Anubis was the first map where G2 looked like they had no answer to ENCE. The team’s inexperience on Anubis was clearly visible on stream as they were unable to use their superior firepower and momentum to build into victory.

G2 started on the CT side and despite winning a few rounds here and there, the team could simply not find its footing. Unable to string together rounds on the CT side, their economy took a hit on a regular basis. Quite often, they did not have the best weapons in hand and ultimately ended the half with a 5-10 score on the CT side.

ENCE won the first four rounds in the second half taking a 14-5 lead. Once G2 got weapons in their hands, they looked extremely competitive stringing together rounds and managing a comeback. But with a very small margin of error (ENCE were at 14), G2 had their task cut out for them. 

ENCE won two more scattered rounds and took the map. They were now within touching distance of G2 in the series. They still needed to win the next map and then the final one in order to win the tournament. 

G2 Esports create Ancient history at IEM Cologne 2023

The final map was Ancient and G2 started on the favored T-side. This definitely gave them an advantage as after losing the pistol round, they strung together eight consecutive victories. 

A 9-6 half lead on the T-side was still achievable for ENCE. But just as in the first half, after losing the first few rounds (including the pistol), G2 came out on top winning the remaining needed rounds to victory.

MONESY had 29 kills to his name clearly leading G2 on the final map. The 18-year-old former prodigy is clearly confident enough to take things in to his own hands now as he plays more and more international rosters. 

With this victory, G2 esports have secured themselves the title of being the last team to have ever won a CS:GO tournament at IEM Cologne 2023. They walk away with $400,000 prize money and a direct invite to IEM Katowice 2024. 

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