Sent on
February 6, 2023

I wanted to use this editor’s note to write ‘oh dear’ a lot more times, but I was ‘kindly advised’ not to. So instead I’d like to tell you that IHC are the best team in the world, probably.

Throw us a note or two

Valve make a lot of money.

As their biggest and best newsletter, we believe that we’ve earned a few percent. That’s a different conversation though.

However many cases you thought were opened each month, it’s almost certainly a hell of a lot more. At least it was for us - probably 20x what we thought. At least as long as a Redditor is correct, for once.

u/Fjedjik - a name that we’re almost certainly pronouncing wrong even while just typing it out - reckons that Valve are seeing players open 20 MILLION cases opened per month. Given they own Steam, there’s no cut being taken out of the $2,50 key price, and so they’re raking it in.

And yet we still get half-arsed operation missions and a Major prize pool 1/20th of what DOTA gets for the International.

In retrospect, that might hurt our chances of getting a cut.

At a couple of euros a pop, we’ve crunched the numbers, and that’s a truckload of moolah. A boatload of Benjamins. Loads o’ money. Honestly, we’d take 1% of €40m a month — it would help pay for napz’ event expenses. About half of it.

We can’t help but feel a little cheated. Yes, Anubis and Ancient have been welcome additions, but it’s always felt like Valve would throw us a bone to keep us occupied and then leave us with the babysitter.

All the while, Counter-Strike is making them an incredible amount of money. The A1-S was overpowered for like a year! For €480m a year we could fix the UK government, never mind this silly little game.

Alright, maybe that’s a stretch. Nothing could fix the UK government.


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The Mongolian Dream

Illustration by ANDY. Source: PGL | Luc Bouchon

In our previous edition, we talked about how FURIA was the only team to be shocked at the Katowice play-ins so far. Little did we know.

Let's set the stage: FURIA just lost to BIG and awaits the winner of IHC vs. paiN for their decider match. A fired-up sk0R brought the pain to… paiN and won the series 2-0 to set up a meeting with FURIA.

On paper, FURIA had everything going their way: Top 20 players, higher HLTV ranking, and better form. And IHC’s previous attempt at taking down a giant didn’t go so well — Cloud9 gave them a spanking that must’ve hurt their confidence.

So, when both teams logged onto the server and IHC started clicking heads, we were quite surprised.

On IHC’ a map pick of Nuke, they started the T-side off strong by carrying pistol round momentum into a 6-3 lead. A lead that was promptly turned into a 6-9 half in favor of FURIA. The teams proceeded to trade rounds but at 14-14 sk0R single-handedly decided he was done playing Nuke. He shut down A-site with a 4K powerful enough to stop a m0NESY flick. Despite FURIA going all out on a force buy, it wasn’t enough and IHC closed the map 16-14.

At this point, everyone started dreaming. Could a team from Mongolia really take down Brazil’s finest?

Ironically, Mirage made those dreams look a reality but turned out to be an illusion.

IHC started off with an 8-7 win as CT - not bad for a map this balanced. And they didn’t stop there. On T-side, IHC pulled away into a 15-11 lead finding themselves at matchpoint!

But then something happened. Their style of play changed.

They gave up four rounds in a row, sending the match to OT where they lost. Despite Annihalation’s ridiculous 1v4 attempt, it seemed they had either run out of strats or their nerves caught up with them.

There was still one map left to play though, Anubis, the wildcard.

FURIA took the first half 9-6, on T-side which appears to be the favored side on Anubis right now. So IHC proved that point. 11 rounds later, 10 of which were won by IHC, the Mongolians won the match, knocked out FURIA, and qualified for the Katowice Group stage.

Everyone in the scene is buzzing for the boys from Asia, well except the Brazilians. But we’re used to that.


What group of death?

Source: ESL / G2

Group A in IEM Katowice, by any metric, is stacked.

It has NAVI and FaZe, the two best teams of 2022. G2, many people’s #1, are also here, along with top ten teams Liquid, Cloud9, and Spirit.

After that, you’ve got upset-magnets BIG and a red-hot IHC who just eliminated FURIA.

Even the best teams in the world would be forgiven for dropping a map or two in this group.

For G2, however, standards weren’t allowed to slip. We can laugh at NiKo for being the best group stage player of all time, but boy is he good in these group stages.

A swift 2-0 over BIG set G2 up with a fight against FaZe. Nuke delivered, a pulsating 16-14 win for G2 but Ancient was barely a fight at all — G2 grabbed another 2-0 to make it 12 maps in a row undefeated, and nine best of threes.

When Outsiders won the Major, and even when Heroic won in Copenhagen, people weren’t convinced we were witnessing the start of a new era. But this G2 team… everything just makes sense.

Something scary clicked in Abu Dhabi, and now we just have to wait to see if they can do the same in the Spodek Arena.

Elsewhere in Group A, NAVI dispatched of Cloud9 and Liquid to shake off an unconvincing BLAST group. They’ve made many a role change, but it’s still the same devastating quartet of fraggers in the server.

While that’s the case, you’d be a fool to count them out. If B1ad3 thinks npl is the solution, then so do we.


Cloud Nein Nein Nein

Source: Cloud9

Oh dear, Cloud9.

If interz was the problem, then buster doesn’t appear to be the solution. What threatened to be a day of little intrigue quickly took a sharp turn east, as IHC didn’t just beat Cloud9, but 2-0’d them.

2-0. IHC. Over Cloud9.

With a stand-in. We really thought them beating FURIA would be the headline.

It went to 30 on both maps, but it’s not even like Ax1le and sh1ro didn’t show up. Ax1le picked up 54 and sh1ro collected 50. If your stars show up and you still lose both maps to a massive underdog… something is wrong structurally.

IHC had been impressive, but they did get soundly beaten by Team Liquid in their opening game, in the way a favourite should beat them.

The other team leaving the event were BIG, who despite going 1-0 up, and then 5-0 up on Mirage, capitulated against Spirit. A superstar performance from w0nderful put them in the dirt on Mirage, and Spirit picked them apart and made themselves a cushy 13-2 lead on Anubis.

They almost choked it, but that’s not the point.

BIG also lost to G2, while Spirit lost to FaZe, in their openers. Both very reasonable. But they took an even bigger loss to NiKo.

In Group B, Heroic kicked off Katowice in shaky fashion. Complexity had them on the ropes thanks to some world-class fraggin’ from floppy, but the clothesline didn’t connect, and Heroic slipped away, survived, and regrouped.

OG scraped a victory over MOUZ, despite being largely lacklustre, and Vitality smacked NIP around. fnatic pipped Outsiders to the post, leaving NIP vs the Major champions in an elimination game.

We can’t wait for IHC to knock on FaZe’s door tomorrow and take them out. Team Spirit vs Team Liquid, similarly, is a spicy elimination game. Get the popcorn in.



📝 Interesting statements

💪 On a run

  • G2 are looking unbeatable in 2023. Hell, they have been unbeatable in 2023. So far.
  • Still don’t understand how iHC’s run at Kato works? Even after our amazing piece on it, just above? Unbelievable. Best we can do is a meme then.

📺 Funny clips

  • electronic is either really bored, or he’s trying to do his best Point Break impression.
  • Nothing quite like a good missed spray on a Monday morning, right nafany?

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