Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Cologne 2023 has come to a thrilling conclusion, with G2 Esports emerging victorious after an intense battle between 24 of the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) teams from around the world. The competition was held from July 26th to August 6th, and the final three days took place in front of more than 37,000 passionate fans at the iconic LANXESS arena in Cologne, Germany.
ESL’s flagship event in LANXESS arena saw many record-breaking moments, with the tournament selling out faster than any other ESL event in Cologne previously, filling the most seats ever as well as capturing the highest average viewership for any other esports event hosted in the German city.
The Play-in Stage began on the 26th July, with 16 teams battling it out for one of the top eight spots. From the 29th July, the Group Stage saw the top eight teams from the Play-in Stage and eight squads that directly qualified, be split into two groups of eight and go head-to-head. The six best teams – Astralis, Cloud9, ENCE, G2 Esports, HEROIC, and Team Vitality – then proceeded to the live Playoffs on August 4-6, during which they faced off against each other in front of the sold-out LANXESS arena.
The Playoffs had a sensational start with Team Vitality dominating the first Quarter-Final, beating Cloud9 2-0. The second Quarter-Final saw Danish squads HEROIC and Astralis face each other, with the latter emerging victorious in another 2-0 win. The Semi-Finals first saw Finnish and French esports organizations, ENCE and Team Vitality, battle it out for three intense rounds, with ENCE becoming the first team to secure a spot in the Grand Final following a 2-1 win. The second Semi-Final saw G2 Esports dominate, defeating Astralis 2-0 and advancing to the final game of the competition.
The electrifying best-of-5 Grand Final saw G2 Esports control the first two rounds against ENCE, going 2-0 up. ENCE started off strong in map 3, and despite catching up, G2 Esports were unable to secure the win, leading the Grand Final to go into the fourth map.
After a hard-fought and exciting match, G2 Esports beat ENCE by a score of 3-1 winning the coveted and renowned IEM Cologne trophy, taking home $400,000 of the $1,000,000 total prize pool, and joining Team Vitality and ENCE in the race to securing Intel® Grand Slam V. Moreover, the squad is the first team to secure a spot in the Group Stage of the first ESL Pro Tour (EPT) Championship event in 2024.
G2 Esports Rifler Nikola “NiKo” Kovač also secured his very first EPT DHL MVP award which is judged on a combination of player performance, fan voting, and broadcast talent voting.
Following the win, Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač commented: “This is the biggest trophy of my career – I’m super happy right now! It’s been a long journey to finally get this trophy but it wouldn’t be possible without this team and I’m so happy to have them by my side. I’m really proud of everyone, we kept it cool and calm throughout the whole series and it doesn’t feel real that we managed to win both [EPT Championship] tournaments in the same year. The experience and playing in the LANXESS arena was amazing!”
By winning the IEM Cologne 2023 title, the German organization claims two EPT Championship competitions back-to-back in the same year, having secured the IEM Katowice trophy earlier this year as well. Furthermore, G2 Esports’ Justin “jks” Savage once more showed he is a force to be reckoned with, winning his third EPT Championship title in two years’ time.
IEM Cologne 2023 saw a peak viewership of more than 727,000.* Moreover, the live part of the event attracted more than 37,000 fans from 70 different countries over three days.
Next up in the ESL Pro Tour is the ESL Pro Tour Season 18, kicking off on August 31 – October 1. For more information and the latest updates about ESL’s Counter-Strike esports ecosystem, head to the official ESL Pro Tour website, and follow ESL CS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.