Some things we learned from IEM Katowice Champions Stage

With Katowice emptying of CSGO fanatics, we can start to draw a few conclusions from the top eight of 2019's first Major...

What did we learn from the final?

Nothing really. It seems glib and lazy to point out, but Astralis went through the London FACEIT Major play-off bracket without dropping a single map, and that was how things ended up in Poland, too. They had an arguably easier run this time around based on world rankings, but coming into the event they were the best team in the world, and nothing has changed about that, except maybe their ‘peers’ aren’t as close as we think to dethroning them. ENCE looked good, but there was little doubt about the result.

What did we learn from the top eight?

IBP was indeed a shitshow, and Liquid are not close to Astralis.
In a weird way, Astralis were a big part of why people wondered if this might be the time they were dethroned, with how they reacted to the loss at IBP. Rather than devalue what was obviously a terribly run event, they praised Liquid for their win, and pointed out that conditions were the same for both teams, meaning the North Americans had not been lucky to emerge victorious.

However, as it turned out that didn’t mean Liquid were close to the level the Danes brought to Poland, as we can see when comparing their results against ENCE. In a noisy, dangerous hall in Hollywood, Liquid may have got the better of Astralis, but at an elite esports event the gap between the two is a chasm right now.

FaZe are done

Yep. Losing to Na'Vi wasn't a shock, the players didn't seem that surprised. This is a team that was created to win trophies, and today, they are as far away as they've been since the pre-karrigan era. Reboot required.

ENCE are the real deal

Now, when we say the real deal, what we don’t mean is that ENCE are now the second best side in the world and will feature alongside Astralis in an echo of the old Sweden/France ties the early days of CSGO were blessed with. What we mean is that this team has massive potential, and have worked on the fundamentals of the game enough to think they will become a solid contender if they stay on this path. This is no BIG Clan at Cologne, but the arrival of a new top team, and should be very exciting for fans around the world.

Yep. OK, sure, they beat FaZe, and made top four at a Major, but this team has the best player in the history of CSGO and couldn’t overcome ENCE in a best-of-three. Zeus and Kane finally have to accept their part in the degradation of Na’Vi if they want to see the yellow and black lifting a Major, and fall on their own swords as soon as possible.

Sadly, with the latter blaming the format and the former one of the most criticised players in tier one already, it looks as though nothing will change, and it’s up to s1mple and electronic to remove their own anchors if they truly want to fly. This team won’t win a Major.

MIBR look OK

It is always nice to have some good news, too, and the return of the Brazilian core to their fully Brazilian form is a great sign. The YNk era was an embarrassment, but with zews in place the fundamentals are back and the passion is too. TACO looks a better player for his time in Liquid, and colddzera has his best friend back too. With Felps doing work, this is a team that can contend for final spots, although it’s way too early to say they could contend for the top spot.

There are many other lessons to be learned, of course, about the level of the other teams. One thing we can take away is the fact GeT_RiGhT is essentially a Swedish Liam Neeson (from Taken, not the one who was in trouble recently in the press) and will never give up. The rise of Renegades told us what many experts had been saying, that they doing themselves and CSGO a disservice with their American mercenaries, and they can have no argument with that either now.

Kassad deserves great credit for his work with that team, and their cultural alignment may have been a factor, but either way RNG are no longer a random number generator, and have become a CS side you can rely on. How it unfolds over the coming months is going to be interesting to observe, but both the OCE boys and ENCE have announced themselves as top teams, and we can never have enough of those in CSGO.

Picture: Copyright ESL | Bart-Oerbekke