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Esports - CS:GO IEM Cologne Friday matches

Counter Strike: Global Offensive's latest major competition, the IEM Cologne, is up and running in Germany with a $1 million prize pool on the table.

The S-Tier event starts with 24 teams in the initial play-in stage, which is running this week, before moving on to the group stage on Saturday and the playoffs next week.

The winners of the event will take home $400,000 in prize money, 3.000 BLAST Premier points and will secure their spot at the IEM Katowice 2024.

As it stands, the upper bracket of the play-in stage has concluded with MOUZ, Fnatic, Astralis and Monte all booking their places in the group stage.

There are only four places left and they will be determined by the winners of the play-in lower-bracket matches.

On Friday three of these matches take place with 9INE up against Team Liquid, Apeks facing OG and Ninjas in Pyjamas taking on Imperial.

Experienced Team Liquid can shut out 9INE

What9INE vs Team Liquid
WherePalladium Koln, Germany
When10.00 EST, Friday July 28, 2023
How to watchTwitch / YouTube
Odds9INE +138, Team Liquid -187

Team Liquid lost their first match in the upper-bracket of the IEM Cologne play-in stage, falling to a 16-10 defeat to Astralis, but they bounced straight back with an impressive 2-1 win over BIG last time out.

The North American side are now just one win away from securing qualification for the group stage and are -187 favourites to come out on top against 9INE.

Ranked seventh in the world, Liquid are the team with more experience and pedigree behind them, having finished as runners-up at the BLAST Premier World Final last December and made the 3rd-4th positions at the IEM Katowice in February.

As for 9INE, they are down in 20th spot in the world rankings and after they were comfortably beaten by Fnatic last time out, they are worth opposing.

Team Liquid are worth backing to win this 2-0 at +175.

Apeks can show their class against OG

WhatApeks vs OG
WherePalladium Koln, Germany
When1.30 EST, Friday July 28, 2023
How to watchTwitch / YouTube
OddsApeks -200, OG +150

It has been a promising season from Apeks and they have looked in good shape during the play-in stage for the IEM Cologne.

The Europeans opened with a 16-10 win over BIG in the upper bracket and came close to a follow up win against Astralis, losing 2-1 after defeats on Overpass and Ancient.

And they are fancied to win their next assignment against OG, having been rated -200 favourites.

If anything, Apeks look a bit big at that price given the disparity between the teams.

While Apeks finished in the 3rd-4th positions at the BLAST Paris Major earlier in the year, OG are rarely in the mix at major events and are 55th in the world HLTV rankings. 

This is another contest with the potential to be one-sided and Apeks are a fine bet at -1.5 on the match handicap at +163.

Comfortable victory expected for Ninjas in Pyjamas

WhatNinjas in Pyjamas vs Imperial
WherePalladium Koln, Germany
When1.30 EST, Friday July 28, 2023
How to watchTwitch / YouTube
OddsNinjas in Pyjamas -400, Imperial +275 

According to the prices, this is set to be the most one-sided of Friday's three IEM Cologne play-in fixtures and it is easy to see why.

Ninjas in Pyjamas left nothing to chance in their play-in opener at the IEM Cologne, sweeping aside Into The Breach 16-5.

That was followed with a 2-0 defeat to 14th-ranked MOUZ in the second round of the upper bracket but Ninjas know they are better than that and should ease through the lower bracket.

Their opponents Imperial Esports were convincingly knocked down to the lower bracket by a 16-9 loss to Monte before only just edging minnows Grayhound 2-1.

Ninjas in Pyjamas excelled in their most recent tournament, the BLAST Premier Fall Groups, finishing in the 1st-3rd positions, and they are worth a bet at -8.5 on the rounds handicap at -120.

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