The replacement of Dust II for Cobblestone into the IEM Sydney map pool after Valve's announcement on April 20 will cause a significant change nonetheless.
The squads had only a bit over a week to prepare on the new map, making it a more volatile battleground that will, as Joshua "steel" Nissan said in a video on his You Tube page, "favor the underdogs."Steel argued that even if the favored team is "stronger on every other map, [the addition of Dust II] gives the weaker team the opportunity to play it and perhaps upset the better team because they get lucky or the other team doesn't have the reps [playing Dust II], or the understanding of [the map layout]."Cobblestone wasn't a specialty map for many teams, with most looking to work on the more dynamic and popular picks of Mirage or Inferno.
For some teams, though, the removal of Cobblestone represents the removal of a useful pocket pick in their pool.
Fnatic, Space Soldiers, MVP PK and SK Gaming all had Cobblestone as one of their most-picked maps and highest one with their highest win rates, and the exit of Cobblestone will hamper those teams' flexibility in vetoes.
IEM Sydney 2018 is an event some people will try to mask with the asterisk of a short-notice map pool change. The event is a validating platform for the greatest teams of 2018 to either prove their worth or fall by the wayside.
Its sole tournament win was so impressive that there is no questioning its ascension into the world No.
It will be a battleground that defines a tournament-dense spring.
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Astralis has not won back-to-back premier trophies since it did so with victories in the ECS Season 2 Finals in late 2016 and ELEAGUE Major at start of 2017.
Cloud9, SK, Fa Ze, and mousesports will all be looking to bounce back from their relatively poor showings in Marseille.