IEM Sydney saw FaZe crowned as the first champions of CS2 in 2023. Although this isn’t the first major, this is the first LAN event to host the new Counter-Strike update. Although the game still has some issues with hit-reg and “subtick servers” both Valve and ESL felt the game was ready to take to the big stage after its release during the Playoffs of the Season 18 Pro League. Some of these issues actually presented themselves during the Playoffs at Sydney with m0NESY losing out to a huge frag in the latter stages of a match.
But why is IEM Sydney so significant in the Counter-Strike space? Here’s everything you need to know about IEM Sydney, and how FaZe won it all in a huge 2-1 victory over Complexity…
What is IEM Sydney?
ESL Intel Extreme Masters Sydney 2023 (or IEM Sydney) is one of the most iconic events on the Counter-Strike Calendar. Unfortunately, the event did not run in 2021 or 2022 due to unforeseen circumstances. However, 2023 saw the return to the land down under with the iconic Aussie crowd with incredible chants and booming volume throughout.
The event reached a peak viewership of 460,000 which surpasses the previous IEM Sydney record in 2018, making this year’s event the most popular Oceania event to date.
IEM features 16 teams. Some of these teams are invited and some must qualify through a regional tournament. Apeks and BetBoom qualified from Europe, Complexity through NA, Lynn Vision through Asia, and VERTEX through OCE. Grayhound Gaming was also invited to the tournament as the “Local Hero”.
This stage of the tournament consisted of two groups. The first saw MOUZ and BetBoom qualify through the Upper Bracket and FaZe through the Lower Bracket. In the second group, G2 and ENCE qualified through the Upper and Complexity through the Lower.
All of these teams faced some of the highest-ranked rosters on the ESL World Ranking, showing their competitive prowess before reaching the Playoffs. Unfortunately, some fan favorites such as NAVI, Vitality, Fnatic, and Cloud9 didn’t reach the Playoffs and were sent packing before expected.
This made for a tense start to the Playoffs stage with some top teams facing underdogs.
The teams that won the Upper Bracket made it straight to the Semifinals, making it easier to reach the finals. Whereas the other teams had to compete in the Quarterfinals. This is where FaZe started to shine. In their first match, FaZe dominated ENCE with a 2-0 win with one match going 13-0 to FaZe. This was an unprecedented start to their Playoff run.
In the Semifinals, FaZe came up against MOUZ, the most recent winner of the ESL Pro League. Although this posed a challenge for FaZe, they again won 2-0 and dominated the recent champions 13-4 on Nuke. This put them straight into the Finals against Complexity.
IEM Sydney 2023 Finals
Complexity had an almost identical run to FaZe at IEM Sydney, with both teams qualifying through the Lower Bracket and winning both the Quarter and Semifinal 2-0. Going into the Final FaZe was definitely the favourite but Complexity showed their competitive prowess taking the first map 13-11.
However, FaZe took the second map 13-10 on Nuke leading to a third and final match on Ancient. FaZe started strong, seemingly dominating Complexity and taking the first half easily. Complexity fought hard taking the match to double OT but unfortunately lost 19-16 to FaZe.
We can’t wait for the next tournament, with the first CS2 Major taking place next year in March 2024.