IEM Beijing-Haidian is fast approaching, and the event is surprisingly stacked for an end-of-year tournament held in China. We aren’t talking about WESG levels of prize money either, meaning that a lot of these big-name teams are here because they want to attend and win the tournament, which is great news for the viewing public. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the storylines going into the first day of competition, and how they could play out in the coming week or so.

FaZe on the up?

Being a FaZe fan is like riding a rollercoaster that changes in nature more often than you’d like. When you boarded said ride, it was a starry, high end affair, led by a cultured European and with pedigree as well as power to call on. However, since the departure of the Danish conductor, things have become more reminiscent of the sort of funfair attraction you’d expect to see in Final Destination, all loose bolts and rattling tracks, not to mention the seemingly inevitable death.

Now though, a light has appeared at the end of the tunnel this metaphorical roller coaster has been travelling through with the win at BLAST Pro Copenhagen. Now it’s time to see if they can continue their momentum and take some scalps at IEM Beijing, where teams might be trying a little bit harder than was the case at the Royal Arena last time out.

100Thieves here to steal your trophy

When the news about 100Thieves taking the Renegades roster broke, the range of reaction was as wide as you’d expect, with the most jubilation coming from down under and a fair degree of nitpicking from the western pundits. While the potential OG lineup the pundits all prefer might look nicer on paper, the reality is that Nadeshot and co. have picked up a fully functioning, ready-to-go team, and can expect instant results.

In fact, there is a chance that the old Renegades do what EG did for their new team and win on their debut outing, especially when you consider that Aussie teams tend to adjust decently to the travel involved with Asian events. There is also a lot of talent in this team, and we’ve seen the boost players can get from signing with a new org already help the aforementioned NA outfit recently if more proof were needed that a win is possible for the boys.

Evil Geniuses plotting world domination

When they went to world number one recently, Stan and his men will have been a bit disappointed to see that most of the conversation was about how long it would be until one of the ‘real’ teams came and took back their crown. Much like Andy Murray in tennis, this team still seems to be considered a placeholder for the ‘real’ Astralis or Liquid by a lot of fans, but they are slowly chipping away at that with results that prove they belong at the top.

A lot of the results will be dictated by who has adjusted well to the jetlag that comes with Asian events, and it seems like EG are working their new men to the bone, no doubt keen to get value for the $3m they reportedly paid for this team. With that in mind, they will be looking to keep up with their good habits and do the same things that have got them to this point, which should put them among the strong favourites for this title.

Astralis found the cure for dev1ce’s illness

Sometimes we get hung up on the esports, and forget there are real lives involved too, like last year when people gave Astralis crap for attending BLAST events but not other major tournaments, like one in Sydney. That looked really unfair at the time in light of the stomach condition dev1ce suffers from, and many people defended the Danes against accusations of being disingenuous, if not outright dishonest.

As it turns out, the illness might not have been as debilitating as the Danes initially made out, just going off the fact they’ve now managed to fly to Beijing without any issues. That’s nothing more than a blast – quite literally – from their past now. This is all about getting back on track after a rough post-Major period, and maybe winning over some Chinese fans in the process as well.