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Previewing CS:GO at IEM Katowice 2020

Matthew Stott

Feb 24, 2020 7:29 am

The prestigious IEM Katowice kicks off on Monday, sporting a $500,000 prize pool. The event marks the 7th consecutive CS:GO event in Katowice. This includes three Valve Major Championships, one in 2014 (EMS One Katowice) another in 2015 (ESL One Katowice) and the most recent in 2019 (IEM Katowice).

 

The event, which spans a week, is absolutely stacked to the brim. There will be 16 teams in attendance, including the current top 10 teams on HLTV. The event has some South African flair too, with Cloud9 in attendance. They managed to qualify through the North American Closed Qualifier beating Complexity and MIBR along the way. 

The Format

The 16 teams have been split into two groups of eight. Six teams in total, three from each group, will proceed to the playoffs. The respective winners of each group will be slotted straight into the semi-finals, while the remaining four teams make up the quarter-finals. The seeding was determined by ESL’s own world ranking system, which controversially has mousesports as their #1 ranking.

 

Group A: Astralis, Cloud9, Ninjas in Pajamas, Team Vitality, Navi, FaZe Clan, Renegades, & Fnatic.

Group B: mousesports, Tyloo Lbet, 100 Thieves, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, Virtus.pro, MAD Lions E.C., & Evil Geniuses.

 

Best of threes all the way through, music to the top team’s ears. This effectively ensures that teams who reach the playoffs, genuinely deserve to be there. As usual, it’ll be a double-elimination format during the group stage, which only counts for so much at such a stacked event. 

 

The playoffs, on the other hand, will consist of a single-elimination bracket. As normal the matches will be best of three bar the grand final, which will be a best of five. People are generally split about the pertinence of a best of five, mostly because of the potential for them to be really long.

 

The Grand Final will be played on Sunday the 1st of March and will be the only game on the day.

The Favourites 

Astralis

Straight off the bat, the obvious favourite is Astralis. Since the StarLadder Major in Berlin they’ve been back to their best and are still the team to beat. Coming off the back of a long-player break they got the year off to a slow start. They placed last in their group at Blast Premier after losing 0-2 to Complexity and 1-2 to Na`Vi. 

 

I think the shock performance at Blast Premier will be a welcome wake up for the defending champions. It will bring things back into perspective for the team and get them in the right mindset for Katowice. I’m confident we’ll be seeing the Astralis we’ve come to know where nothing less than the trophy is expected. 

mousesports

mousesports started the year off in fantastic fashion when they won the ICE Challenge 2020. They beat Na`Vi convincingly in the final 3-1, albeit the CIS team had just made a roster change replacing GuardiaN with Perfecto. It wasn’t the biggest event in the world but it definitely would have served as a confidence booster for the squad. 

 

Interestingly, as I mentioned, mousesports are ranked as the best team in the world on ESL’s world ranking. This would be the perfect event for them to build towards staking their claim as exactly that. If mousesports can win in Katowice it starts to become more difficult to deny them the right of passage to the number one spot. 

 

The team has been on an impressive upward trajectory throughout their tenure. Towards the end of last year they won three events in a row: CS:GO Asia Championship 2019, ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals and cs_summit 5. They seem to be consistently pushing their goals higher and higher to the point where now they’re only satisfied with winning the whole thing. 

Honourable Mentions

I believe there are at least eight teams who are genuinely capable of winning the event. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to call these teams favourites I do classify them as contenders. The first team is Liquid, they’ve been in a bit of a slump but you can never rule them out. Next is EG, a team who has shown so much promise but hasn’t fully lived up to it, yet. The third is fnatic, it’s their first event of the year but they were looking super hot at the end of last year. 

 

Another team I think has a chance to win the event is FaZe. They displayed great form at Blast Premier beating liquid 2-0 twice throughout the weekend. The last two teams are Vitality and Na’Vi. 

Potential Dark Horse

MAD Lions 

The Danish team was making waves at the back end of 2019. Since the inception of the roster they’ve taken part in three LAN events where they’ve ended placing 3rd at all three. Generally speaking, when we see a team consistently finishing at higher placings it’s only a matter of time before they break the barrier. MAD Lions are one of those teams that have the potential to keep developing and reach the point where they are able to convert those top 3 finishes into event wins. 

 

Led by HUNDEN and propelled by four young fraggers the team is potent. As one would expect with HUNDEN at the helm, they have a wealth of tactical depth with a constructed approach to the game. All four of the remaining players have the serious capability of popping off but are also stable and consistent. 

 

I’m not sure they have what it takes yet to be serious contenders for the title of an event like IEM Katowice, but I do think right now as it stands they have the potential to make a run with a few upsets along the way. Perhaps they can reach the playoffs and lose respectfully to the likes of their Danish superiours Astralis or the like. 

Conclusion

It’s the first big event of the year and it is absolutely packed with promise. It’s a bit of a pity that it comes so soon after the extended player break but on the flip side, it’s a great way to sink our teeth into 2020. The level of competition is fierce and no team at the event should be slept on.