IEM Katowice 2019: New Challengers Stage preview
The IEM Katowice Major is almost upon us and the excitement has started to peak ahead of the first CSGO showpiece of 2019. The first week is always fascinating as we get to see the new faces and names that might challenge the established gods in weeks two and three, as well as a few old favourites crash and burn like some kind of virtual Hindenburg.
Gawking at tragedy is tasteless of course, and very human indeed, so let’s get into who might go big, and who might go home from week one of IEM Katowice 2019.
IEM Katowice Live: All live streams with a choice of language
The probably safe club
There are few teams at this level that will feel their spot in the next round is guaranteed, but the likes of Fnatic, NRG Esports and Ninjas in Pyjamas won’t have booked themselves just one week worth of hotels, we’d imagine. After their tribulations last time around, the North Americans made qualification look very simple, and if they can carry that confidence through this should be simple work. The same applies to the two Swedish squads, who have both the experience and talent to make going out here an embarrassment if it does occur.
Just based on recent play, it seems like Cloud9 are also in a decent spot with flusha at the helm, and should make it through, as should meme-kings ENCE. The North Americans are obviously previous champions, and vastly experienced, while the Finns have a great blend of youth and wisdom, as well as that typically Finnish refusal to be intimidated, bullied or even bothered about most things, which is verging on OP in high level competition.
Should make it, but …
To be honest, it was a tough choice as to where Team Vitality should go for this one, as they certainly have the talent to be safe. The problem with that is their lack of top level LAN experience and over-reliance on ZywOo, the young AWP prodigy, but they should still have enough to make the next stage with the likes of apEX, NBK and RPK to steady the ship and provide context to the difficult moments. The same does go for G2 Esports, with both shox and kennyS on board, but we’ve learned the hard way that having the two best players in the history of French CSGO means nothing, even if G2 themselves are yet to figure that out.
Of the rest, AVANGAR are a good collection of players with a stable star and somewhat decent history of playing together, so would be a decent pick. We like both the Aussie teams, but it’s hard to put too much store in them at this point, so we’ll go for the tactically-sound Furia as having a good shot, and not just because they have the best holo in the whole damn tournament.
Could be squeaky
Eight teams have to go home at this stage, which means a lot of broken hearts, but picking who is going to be on that first flight out of Poland is far from easy. With a best of three win now required to make it out, the likes of Vega Squadron and Tyloo are going to find it much harder, with consistency their main issue, while Vici Gaming and Team Spirit look under-equipped for this level of play, although the former beat North in the play-in despite not even having a coach.
There is no doubt the Aussies will be crowd favourites, and one of Renegades and Greyhound could well make it out, but both probably won’t. That leaves us with just Winstrike, possibly the most difficult team to predict in this event, and one that we could almost have put in any other these three groups. N0rb3r7 is amazing, and the team have decent experience too, but the level of play in week one of the Major is intense making it hard to be certain the CIS mix will be able to tough it out and progress to New Legends.
Take all of those with a grain of salt of course, as the wonderful part about week one of the Major is how unpredictable it can be, and be sure to tune in to every game to see if we actually know our stuff…you can find all the action on our matches section.