The entire top 10 at the same event?! BLAST was a decent warmup, but it's time to really kick off 2020.
When you have all ten of the top ten in one place, it’s inevitable that something great is going to happen. IEM Katowice boasts the top ten, the #12, #14, #18, #20, #22 and #28 placed teams in the HLTV rankings, and promises a banger event. With some of the finest talent, including SPUNJ, moses, Anders and HenryG, in Katowice too, it promises to be one of the best CS:GO events of the year.
A $500,000 prize pool awaits the teams who come out on top of the pile. Monday 24th kicks off the day at 12pm CET with NiP vs Vitality and Astralis vs C9, simultaneously, and being the first huge tournament of 2020 means that everyone has question marks and things to prove. NiP are a new, younger team than they’ve had for years, and they need to prove they can hang with the best without the players who made them famous. Who better to test yourself on than ZywOo, if you’re looking to fight the best?
Astralis are coming off the back of an extremely sluggish start to 2020, having lost two games at BLAST in embarrassing fashion, and they have a potential banana skin in game one. Cloud9 are a new-ish team who bring an exciting freshness, and against a vulnerable Astralis team, they have a chance to make a statement.
Astralis are still pretty much everyone’s favourites, but mousesports and FaZe cannot be slept on. FaZe looked a lot more solid than the Danes at BLAST, winning their group convincingly. The ‘superteam’ is looking strong again with broky coming in, and they’re in a good position to choke - uh, win, a final again for the first time in a while.
mousesports have quietly become a top tier threat, consistently making final after final at the back end of 2019, but will have to shake off the player break-induced cobwebs to ensure they’re able to continue their impressive form. FaZe have to deal with a reinvigorated NaVi to start, while mouz have TYLOO, who are replacing ViCi at IEM Katowice, whose VISAs were delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Two dark horses for the IEM Katowice trophy are G2 and fnatic. G2 were impressive at BLAST also, and looked like a team with kennyS, AmaNEk and huNter- really should. The pure skill in that team is disgusting, and if things continue to come together for them, there’s no reason they can’t upset the apple cart at a time of unrest in the scene.
fnatic are a team who’ve in the last few months come back to upset the top teams and throw a wrench in the scene. Through brute force they’ve muscled their way back to the top, and are a team who have the ability to win tier one events that they don’t seem to have any chance of winning. This might have every single top team at the event, but fnatic are still not one to be counted out.
Liquid and EG are the two other NA representatives, and are fighting for their bragging rights back home, but also for the #1 spot in the world. EG have seemingly made a habit of following a great tournament with a disappointing one, and vice versa, and given how poor they were at BLAST, someone is going to get mauled. They start against MAD Lions, a team who are also attempting to be a top dog in their own region, but have the odds stacked heavier against them.
Liquid have dropped off a little bit from their lofty perch of #1 last year, but it could be a new year, old Liquid type of deal in 2020. A start against a flailing Virtus.pro could and should be a simple confidence builder to set them in the right direction. It seems weird to suggest Liquid might be a ‘dark horse’ given the team we saw last year that crushed nearly everyone, but realistically, that’s what they are right now.
The last four teams that have gone mostly unmentioned are NaVi, TYLOO, Renegades and 100 Thieves. We’ll leave the Asian Minor teams for now, and concentrate on NaVi, who are exciting for the first time in ages. electronic looks back to his top five player form, and s1mple looks like he’s back to his top one player form, back on the AWP. Those two were enough to see them navigate - or should that be NaVigate - an extremely tough group at BLAST.
Astralis and Vitality were left in the dirt, and NaVi were able to smoke Complexity in the final game to top the group of death, and everyone should be excited to watch a potential GOAT back in full flight.
100 Thieves are obviously the most dangerous of the Asian-ish teams, but they were not so dangerous at BLAST, getting spanked by both EG and G2. They’ve been a consistently inconsistent team though, one who can flip from tier 2 to top tier from event to event, and though they’re unlikely to win IEM Katowice, a deep run is certainly not out of the conversation. Renegades, their former org, can come in with no expectations, but a team that has been improving since the move to remove DickStacy from the roster. Their expectations at a less-stacked event would likely be a deep run like their Aussie brothers, but here, even making playoffs would be a huge success.
The final team is TYLOO, who as previously mentioned, were brought in to replace ViCi. They’re coming in pretty cold, and seem universally agreed to be the weakest side at the event. Since losing BnTeT they’ve been similarly dominant domestically, but got 3-0’d by ViCi in the qualifier for this event. They’ve always been an unpredictable team in BO1s, but even with that unpredictability and freedom that comes from having nothing to lose, BO3’s without loads of prep is likely to be a tough task.
Image via ESL.