By Pavo Jurkic
February 21, 2020
There’s a whole bunch of things happening in the CS:GO scene at the moment. As you may have heard already, a massive event drama is still going strong. ESL Pro League vs. FACEIT plus B Site joint venture (Flashpoint) is still on! Both sides are trading blows back and forth with Thorin being in the center of attention yet again.
However, if you’re more interested in actual CS:GO esports gameplay rather than all this cringy high-school quality drama, you might want to know more about the upcoming premier-tier event, IEM Katowice 2020!
Intel Extreme Masters are up there with the greatest CS:GO spectacles, both production and gameplay-quality-wise. If the folks over at ESL are in charge of organizing an event, you can rest assured the production quality is going to be at the highest possible level!
If there’s drama, though, you can rest assured ESL will be there too…
Who would’ve thought that BLAST Premier would end up being the least crappy CS:GO event of 2020!
Let’s not talk about Flashpoint and ESL Pro League anymore .Those two events have already gathered enough attention over the last few weeks. From now on, we’re going to focus solely on IEM Katowice 2020, the format, schedule, and most prominent contestants.
As always, we have a bunch of interesting facts to start off with, so let’s jump straight in!
As for the prize pool, $500,000 are going to be spread among the teams in the following manner:
IEM Katowice 2020 tournament format is going to be pretty straightforward. The event starts off with a double-elimination group stage, featuring two groups with eight teams in each. The biggest thing regarding the group stage is the fact all GS matches are scheduled for Bo3 contests, meaning there’s no room for the notorious Bo1 upsets.
Furthermore, three teams per group advance to the playoffs. Group winners advance straight to the semifinals, while upper bracket losers and lower bracket winners play against each other in the quarters. We’re talking about single-elimination playoffs here, meaning there’s no room for mistakes once the group stage is done and dusted. Most importantly – IEM Katowice 2020 brings forth a Bo5 grand finals, allowing us to see which team can get ahold of the pedestal two months before ESL One Rio Major.
Before we jump to IEM Katowice 2020 team overviews, here’s a closer look at both groups:
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
As you can see, both groups pack high-quality teams. In fact, both groups will be tightly contested from start to finish, especially considering the fact ten of them (five per group) won’t make it through to the playoffs in Spodek Arena.
When it comes to group A, Astralis, Vitality, NaVi, and FaZe seem to be the favorites. However, the likes of NiP and Fnatic will definitely have their say. Heck, Cloud9 and the all-new Renegades roster could surprise us too…
Astralis is back on the top of the CS:GO food chain. The greatest CS:GO team of all time is back where it belongs and will be looking to cash in on their form in Katowice. Despite a shaky start to 2020 with a quick BLAST Premier elimination, Device and the Danish boys will have their eyes set on the IEM Katowice title, that’s for sure!
They will, however, have plenty of fierce contestants. Cloud9, driven by Complexity’s recent scalp, will be eyeing an upset right off the bat. Plus, the likes of Vitality, NaVi, and FaZe pose as real threats later on in the group stage. Everyone will do their best to take down Astralis, there’s no doubt about that. Even though there won’t be a lack of trying, I still expect the Great Danes to cruise to the playoffs.
People expected great things from Vitality on BLAST Premier Spring 2020 regular season. However, the French team failed to deliver, losing against Complexity and NaVi, and ending up without a ticket for the finals. It was totally unexpected considering the way they closed 2019 off (by winning EPICENTER 2019).
However, ZywOo won’t back down and will be hoping for a much better campaign in Katowice. The best player in the world will need to get his A-game going if he wants to lead his team to the Spodek-bound playoffs. NiP is going to be the first obstacle with either Astralis or Cloud9 coming right up. If they go two from two right from the kickoff, they might snowball to greatness in the playoffs.
Natus Vincere, AKA NaVi, is another top-tier group A team. Led by S1mple, NaVi will be hoping to make a stance in Katowice. It’s going to be a tough task for the best CIS team, especially with GuardiaN going inactive and Perfecto in the starting roster.
Yep, you read that right – GuardiaN lasted just a few months in NaVi. Who would’ve guessed, eh? Back to the topic – all eyes will be on Perfecto and his ability to showcase his array of in-game skills. The 20-year-old rifler arrived from Syman gaming, where he was playing for more than a year straight. He definitely has that raw dose of talent with the only question being whether or not he can make it work with S1mple.
Can 2020 be FaZe Clan’s year? Are we finally going to see the best of what this superstar roster is capable of? After all, having the likes of rain, olofmeister, NiKo, and coldzera in the same team should be illegal. This roster (with broky as the final piece) showed glimpses of brilliance in 2019 but failed to reach the consistency needed for that next step.
2020, however, kicked off with a proper bang, snatching a BLAST Premier Finals’ ticket right in front of Team Liquid. They beat the best NA side not once but twice, with 2-0 as the end score on both occasions. Things are looking bright for FaZe Clan… Who knows, perhaps 2020 will finally get them the Major they’ve been craving for ever since that C9 upset at the start of 2018…
Even though it’s not packed as tightly as group A. group B will still have a plethora of great matchups. Mousesports, G2 Esports, and the dynamic NA duo, Liquid and EG, stand out as the main favorites. TYLOO and MAD Lions seem like the only underdogs here, but they could cause an upset or two, especially the in-form Danish side. However, upsets aren’t going to be that prevalent because there are no Bo1 matches. Still, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out for them…
Surprisingly enough, Mousesports didn’t change a thing since last year’s March madness when they brought in karrigan, woxic and frozen. Sure, Rejin came a month later, but no changes have occurred since then. ChrisJ and ropz are still there with their experience and pragmatic approach, supported by a bunch of new faces that are capable of both fragging and leading from the frontline.
As far as form goes, Mousesports is still at an all-time high. CS:GO Asia Championships title in late November, ESL Pro League S10 Finals in December, and ICE Challenge just two weeks ago – those are three titles in as little as three months. Plus, we can’t forget about their EPICENTER grand finals misery in late December. All in all, the European giant is in good form and I expect them to go through to the playoffs with some style!
Even though many predicted the fall of G2 was inevitable shortly after the arrival of Nexa and HuNter from CR4ZY, the Bosnian/Serbian connection proved everyone wrong. Yes, they had a rough start with their French teammates but managed to overcome the initial pressure and establish themselves are irreplaceable starters.
G2 dominated the BLAST Premier Spring 2020 regular season, snatching a precious grand finals tickets after beating 100 Thieves and OG (twice). They’re set to play against 100 Thieves again, which shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Mousesports will probably be their second-round opponent, which will make for an entertaining Bo3. That said, G2 has a pretty straightforward path to the playoffs, without having to deal with powerhouses such as Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses.
Talking about powerhouses, am I still allowed to refer to Team Liquid as one? After all, they haven’t won a single event since July (IEM Chicago) and their most recent performances weren’t anywhere near their standards. Stewie2K and the boys need a change… or so it seems.
Their grand finals misery is on once again, with Astralis getting the better of them on two occasions in December 2019. Such heartbreaks ought to have ruined the team morale. The question is – can Team Liquid get back up and prove their worth? If BLAST Premier was any indication of how 2020 will pan out for the boys in blue, it’s not going to be a good year for the best NA side… Despite that, they should still snatch a spot in the playoffs here.
Evil Geniuses had a marvelous run of form in 2019. Need I remind you, there was a short time when they were ranked as the best team in the world. Yep, ahead of both Team Liquid and Astralis. However, that was nothing more than a short-lasting success, with Brehze and the boys falling down to their usual lackluster performances.
Late 2019 wasn’t too good for the ex-NRG side. Two semifinals (EPICENTER and ECS S8 Finals) alongside several not-so-good outings put EG back to the top 10 margins. IEM Katowice 2020 will serve as a sort of proving ground for EG. Winning the even is not an imperative, but reaching the playoffs definitely is. However, that won’t be such an easy task…
We’re going to wrap our IEM Katowice 2020 Preview up by checking out the group stage schedule. As mentioned above, we’re talking about two dynamic, double-elimination groups, each featuring eight teams. That said, we only know the schedule of first-round matches. All eight of them, naturally.
Here’s what we’re going to be watching on the first two days of the event: