IEM XV Katowice World Championship Power Ranking
Exactly a week separates us from the upcoming Intel Extreme Masters XV World Championship. It’s one of the biggest CSGO competitions this year, bringing forth $1 million in prize money as well as 24 top-tier teams.
Sixteen of them start the contest from the play-in stage, the stage that will eliminate half of them. The remaining half will head into the group stage, joined by eight additional, already qualified, teams.
IEM XV Katowice World Championship play-in stage starts next Tuesday, Feb. 16. The first two days are reserved for the play-in stage featuring a mixture of bo1 and bo1 matches. Opening round matches are bo1. Everything else is bo3. The same goes for the group stage and playoffs, too, except for bo5 grand finals.
IEM XV Katowice power ranking is what we’re here to discuss. We’ve seen plenty of surprises in the ongoing BLAST Premier Spring groups, which skewed the overall state of affairs ever so slightly. But, since group C action still isn’t finished, some of these power ranking spots might surprise you.
IEM XV Katowice Power Ranking
Enough with the chit chat. Let’s go through the IEM XV Katowice Power Ranking starting with the best team first: Natus Vincere.
NaVi is yet to play their BLAST Premier Spring group C matches. They’re going up against MIBR in the opening round and waiting for Faze vs. Liquid’s outcome later on. Assuming they win, they’ll have a proper match on their hands, the match that is likely to push them through to the Spring Finals.
Form-wise, I’m sure you all know NaVi is coming into this event following an immensely successful BLAST Premier Global Final campaign. They stomped over Astralis 2:0 in the grand final to win $600,000 in prize money and the first notable title in 2021. Mind you, NaVi is here as the reigning IEM World Champions, having won IEM XIV Katowice last year. Can they make it two from two in 2021 and two from two on IEM World Championships? Well, I wouldn’t have placed them at the top spot of our IEM XV Katowice power ranking if I didn’t believe in them!
Even though most people label Astralis as the heavy favorites here, following their BLAST Premier Spring group stage mishap, I reckon they’re going to have another one here. Perhaps not a massive one, but a mishap nevertheless. When talking about pure title-winning potential, I value NaVi a level above the Great Danes.
Don’t get me wrong, device and the boys are in great form. They won’t let two poor matches run them off course for the remainder of the season, but I can’t help but notice NaVi’s superior overall quality. S1mple is doing wonders out there, making Astralis look like the second-best team in the world from a mile away.
Vitality, just like Astralis, made a real mess in the group stage of BLAST Premier Spring. Vitality is out of the equation and will join Astralis in the Spring Showdown in April. They lost against Complexity in the opening round and against Evil Geniuses in the lower bracket r1.
What does this mean for their upcoming IEM XV World Championship campaign? Well, from what I’ve seen, their old issues are making a proper comeback. ZywOo had another outstanding performance, but the rest of the team just wasn’t there for him. They’ll have to work on their map awareness to achieve something here, that’s for sure.
G2 is one of the eight teams set to join the event from the group stage. They were the fifth overall seed coming into the event, behind Heroic, Vitality, Astralis, and NaVi on the road to Katowice EU standings. However, they didn’t end 2020 on a good note. Heck, they failed to kick 2021 off with style, too, having an unimpressive run on BLAST Premier Global Final which ended in a tough loss against NaVi in the lower bracket.
However, I do think better things are to come for G2. NiKo is slowly (but surely) settling in and showing all his might. The Balkan trio is bound to provide satisfactory results this year. We have to give them enough time. AmaNEk is showing signs of waking up too. That’s going to be necessary, especially in a top-tier event such as this one. If they can push through the shaky start on BLAST Premier Spring groups, I reckon G2 will justify such a high placement on our IEM XV Katowice power ranking.
BIG are through to the BLAST Premier Spring Finals after defeating NiP in the grand final of group A. They’re already focused on their first IEM play-in match against Movistar Riders. They are the obvious favorites, no doubt about that, but the winner of Team Spirit vs. Cloud9 might not be as straightforward as most people think.
I believe the Germans will continue their splendid run of form and do well on this event. The play-in stage might even do wonders to boost their confidence ahead of major group stage clashes bound to occur later on. If syrsoN has another one of those tournaments, we can rest assured BIG will reach far into the bracket.
Virtus.pro and BIG are the finest play-in teams, teams that are bound to go through to the group stage. Sure, Fnatic and Liquid are right up there too. VP and BIG need to be emphasized as not just play-in champions but serious title contenders too. Perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement, but you have to admit Virtus.pro is looking darn fine!
The CIS legends are enjoying themselves out there, having won three consecutive events they’ve participated in. CS_Summit 7, DH Open December and Flashpoint Season 2. They’re bringing forth a superstar in the making, the fantastic Latvian wunderkind YEKINDAR. The 21-year-old has been on fire lately. Everyone expects him to produce another memorable campaign on IEM XV WC. YEKINDAR’s form, coupled with Jame’s fragging potential and experience, is what brings Virtus.pro into our IEM XV Katowice power ranking.
Most people think Heroic is a proper top four contender coming into this event. However, my IEM XV Katowice power ranking has them at the seventh place, below the likes of Virtus.pro and on par with Liquid, both of which have to go through the play-in stage. Why do I think so lowly of the second-best Danish team out there?
I mean, I get it. Heroic’s 2020 was excellent, but the last two months saw them underperform on every event they participated in. Sure, CS_Summit 7 saw them rise to the challenge once again, snatching a good run that ended up with a semifinal loss to Fnatic. Their form is miles below the stuff they’ve shown us last year, which is why I reckon they won’t be a tough contender in the group stage.
Even though they’ve had a solid run on BLAST Premier Global Final, I don’t think Liquid will do much on IEM XV World Championship. Why is that so? They have to go through the hassle of the play-in stage, which means more matches and potentially a bo1 upset right off the bat. In the first round, they’re playing against MIBR, the perfect opportunity for Fallen to prove his worth against his old team.
However, they’re crossing with the winner of OG vs. Fnatic (assuming they win), and that might bring forth a ton of issues for Fallen and the Liquid boys. Sure, the lower bracket is there to alleviate the issues. But looking at the teams on the other end of the bracket, it’s safe to say the upset potential is substantial. If Liquid can go through to the group stage, they’re going to be noteworthy contenders. The risk lies in the play-in. I’m sure Liquid players are well-aware of it.
No matter which teams snatches the trophy, in the end, we can rest assured IEM XV World Championship is going to be a true festival of competitive CSGO. With 24 participants, a dynamic tournament format, and $1 million in prize money, this is the closest thing we’ll have to a Major in more than a year.
Hopefully, it will live up to people’s expectations!