The Intel Extreme Masters tournament returned to Sydney for an epic live esports competition running from the 20th to the 22nd of October.
It’s been four years since fans from all over the world turned up to watch the 2019 event in Sydney Olympic Park or the live stream over the Internet. A global phenomenon, this year, the Sydney leg of ESL’s IEM pro gaming tour ran parallel with the SXSW Sydney event at the International Convention Centre in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Intel invited me behind the scenes to check out the impressive set-up at the ICC Aware Super Arena. Select media watched the huge screens as pyrotechnics, smoke, and lights were tested in advance of the 7,000-plus fans descending on the venue.
Not only was the IEM Sydney event the first time the tournament has been held in Australia since 2019, but it was also the first IEM championship to feature Counter-Strike 2, replacing Counter-Strike: Global Operations as the game of choice. This visual update to the game makes for a better spectator experience, but it was interesting to see how elite players adjusted to the improved physics and difference in performance. CS:GO has been honed for over a decade and ran like butter on most half-decent PCs, this new version of the game is still in its early days.
Roger Chandler, Intel’s VP and GM of Enthusiast PC and Workstation in the Client Computing Group, was in Sydney to talk to the local media about Intel’s new 14th Generation of CPUs. Roger offered some insight into the AI overclocking features of the Intel Extreme Tuning utility and how it allows novices to get the most out of their PC.
Intel is not hiding the fact that its 14th-generation CPUs are a Raptor Lake refresh. They use the same Intel 7 fabrication, have the same LGA 1700 form factor, and work with Intel 600 and 700-series motherboards. The idea is that these CPUs take advantage of a year’s worth of refinements to give users boost clock speeds of up to 6 GHz.
As well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the IEM arena, media were also escorted to the SXSW Tech Expo. Here local vendors were showing off machines running Intel’s 14th Gen CPUs and, of course, Counter-Strike 2.
The IEM is as much a gathering of the Counter-Strike community as it is a premier esports event. The tournament’s opening ceremony was electrifying with the Aware Super Arena packed with fans going wild.
The IEM Sydney tournament featured sixteen teams playing from the group round quarter-finals to the Sunday evening final between Faze Clan and Complexity. Ultimately, it was Faze Clan that claimed the US$250,000 prize money.
A premiere esports tournament in a world-class venue, alongside an expo showing off all the latest PC gaming technology, the IEM Sydney is an event that should be in all gamers’ diaries.