Road to IEM Katowice - Why Katowice and Spodek Arena?

The majority of individuals have no idea where Katowice, Poland is located. However, in the last decade, the city has become host to the world's largest esports tournament. Katowice has also become linked with the ESL and Intel Extreme Masters tournaments among esports fans (IEM).

The Beginning of IEM Katowice

The year is 2010. It was at this time that the city's officials agreed that Katowice's growth should be based on technology. The focus was on esports, among other topics. Given the current "surge" in electronic sports, this move was not unexpected.

However, we must keep in mind that when Katowice opted to sponsor IEM 10 years ago, esports was not such a well-known business.

Katowice brought the Intel Extreme Masters event to Poland in collaboration with ESL, the world's largest organiser of esports championships, and the Intel brand: Katowice was just one of the IEM stops in the inaugural year of its inception in2013, but just only a year later, the global finals event was transferred from Germany to Poland.

Every year, it's as if we have all decided to host the World Cup in Poland from now on. The choice of Katowice officials to support the event is extraordinary. It was the first large-scale esports competition that was intended to act as a stand-alone event. All past events relied on natural traffic and viewers who attended huge trade shows such as CeBit, Gamescom, and so on, so it was a dangerous experiment with an uncertain conclusion.

Why Katowice was picked as a major esports venue

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It’s definitely not because Germans love to visit Poland every 20 years or so: fans from all over the world can easily access the city because it is so well connected.

The Silesian Metropolis (the Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin), which is made up of 41 municipalities in the region, has a population of around 3 million people that makes it a relevant hub in the heart of Europe.

Image credit: Paul Chaloner/Flickr‌‌

Its Spodek Arena is not just the face of the city but the face of Poland and a grand stadium for an esports event back in its day with a capacity up to 11,000 people. Even by today's esports standards –since it’s more about streaming than attending live to these events in our day and age. It hosted World Volleyball Championships in Rammstein and Depeche Mode.

Figures and numbers

Some figures and numbers compiled from the internet may be a bit outdated though but it shows how much has Katowice come throughout the years and boosted Poland’s gaming and esports sector and employment:

  • In only 2018, a global audience of 40 million individuals was reached. Katowice was shown on televisions throughout the world. In total, 19 digital platforms were used to communicate in ten languages.
  • In 2018, there were 9.3 million interactions related to the IEM Katowice. IEM Katowice has established itself as a true esports hub.
  • IEM Katowice has been cited over 30 thousand times in the previous five years (in the Polish media only).
  • The value of Katowice's IEM-related communication operations exceeded several million dollars.
  • The number of visitors to IEM has climbed from 50,000 in 2013 to over 170,000 in 2018.
  • In the years 2013–2017, the number of visitors to the conference and fairs climbed from 512 to 826 thousand. Intel Extreme Masters had 173 thousand visitors in 2017 on its own.

What’s next for 2022

The IEM World Championship Intel Extreme Masters Season XVI - Katowice 2022 will begin on Tuesday, February 15 and ends on Sunday, February 27.

The greatest professional players from Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Blizzard's StarCraft II are battling for over $1,000,000 in cash prizes.

The Intel Extreme Master XVI Katowice 2022 tournament will be the first major CSGO and StarCraft 2 event of the year.

The tournament will bring together 24 of the best teams from across the world to battle for a $1 million prize fund for CSGO and best players over the world zerg rushing to get their piece from $500,000 for SC2.

The ancient Spodek Arena will also host a live audience this year after two years of pandemic hiatus, ticket holders from 2020 and 2021 can use them to attend the live event, and rest of the tickets are already sold out for the 11,000 capacity venue.

This will be an excellent opportunity for lapsed fans of CSGO and SC2 to re-enter the game.

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