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Esports: IEM Dallas 2023 EU Qualifier Monday preview

The IEM Dallas 2023 Europe Closed Qualifier comes to a close on Monday, with three matches to determine the two teams that will qualify for the tournament proper.

Cloud9 and Astralis have ripped their way through the bracket and line up in the Upper final, but even if they lose, they will have one more chance to qualify in the consolidation final.

They will meet either OG or Fnatic, who contest the lower final on Monday.

Astralis ready to push Clouds hard

WhatCloud9 v Astralis
When6AM ET, Monday April 3
How to watchYouTube, Twitch
OddsCloud9 -250, Astralis +175

This tournament has seen the resurgence of both Astralis and Cloud9. Both sides entered under a cloud but have found their best form again and this match promises to be a big spectacle.

Astralis had a nightmare 2022 and that continued when they bombed out of ESL Pro League Season 17 in 17-20th. Recent months have been much stronger, however, flying through the open qualifier for this tournament before wins over Spirit and GODSENT in the opening rounds.

That victory against Spirit should be focused on, as they struggled to beat that roster at ESL Pro League, but were dominant when they met at this tournament.

They did drop a map to GODSENT, but that roster is improving and they closed out the series with 16-9 and 16-6 map victories.

If the firepower trio of blameF, device and Buzz are playing at their peak, as they have for much of this tournament, then Cloud9 will certainly have something to be concerned about.

The CIS squad, quite incredibly, have won 15 of their last 16 series. Their only loss came in the Grand Final of ESL Pro League Season 17, where they lost out in a hard-fought contest to FaZe.

They were not totally convincing in their 2-0 victory over sYnck to kick off their run, but a subsequent 2-1 success over Ninjas In Pyjamas was much more like it. Like Astralis, the trio of Ax1Le, sh1ro and HObbit are crucial to their claims.

This match could come down to a battle of the AWP’ers, with device taking on sh1ro.

The former, at his peak, is a formidable opponent for the game’s best, but sh1ro has been performing on another level and if he is successful in the early skirmishes, that would spell trouble for Astralis.

The odds showcase the size of the task that Astralis face, but the Danes have made significant progress lately and this series is likely to go the distance. At -110, that could be the play.

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OG and Fnatic face crucial showdown

WhatOG v Fnatic
When6AM ET, Monday April 3
How to watchYouTube, Twitch
OddsOG +100, Fnatic -138

It is the last chance saloon for both OG and Fnatic, with the winner moving on to play the loser of Astralis and Cloud9 for the final spot at IEM Dallas.

The narrow favourites are Fnatic, but the European roster have been very inconsistent of late and would not be the most reliable at skinny odds.

Finishing 13-16th at ESL Pro League, they were dumped out of BLAST Premier Spring Showdown by 9INE, a result that few would have seen coming.

Their woes continued when GODSENT sent them to the lower bracket of this tournament straight away, but Fnatic have shown plenty of fight to down Spirit and Ninjas In Pyjamas in two subsequent matches.

In both of those victories, FASHR stood out, posting the best Rating 2.0 of his side, and he could be a win condition in this match.

Conversely, nicoodoz has struggled to make an impact in recent matches, and they need him to step up and make an impact, given his crucial role as the AWP’er.

On the flip side, OG have been able to rely on their AWP’er degster to make devastating impact, helping them to wins over sYnck and GODSENT after their opening match loss to Ninjas In Pyjamas.

The international roster bombed out of ESL Pro League in Season 17 in 21-28th, but prior to that, they had been one of the surprise packages of late 2022 and early 2023.

These sides met at IEM Katowice 2023 Play-In in February, where OG landed the spoils with a 2-1 success. OG no longer have nexa, as they did on that particular occasion, but niko has slotted into the team without too much pain.

As the odds suggest, this game could go either way. Both sides have shown inconsistency this year and OG remain in transition, so the slight favouritism for Fnatic is likely justified.

Both teams are real battlers, so another three-map series, at -120, could be in store.

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