In 10 days, eight of the best League of Legends teams in the world will enter the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland for one of the biggest international competitions of the year. Today, we learned just who will face each other in the opening rounds.
The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice League event will be split into two double-elimination group stages, with four teams from four separate regions in each group. The two teams that win two matches before they lose two will advance to the semifinal stage, where they’ll play a best-of-three semifinal against an advancing team from the other group. The winners of the semifinals will then clash in a best-of-five final to crown an IEM World Champion.
Group A opens with a blockbuster battle between American stalwarts Cloud9 and the best team in Korea, GE Tigers, with the winner facing either Europe’s current top team SK Gaming and the yoe Flash Wolves.
America’s version of the New York Yankees, Team SoloMid, will face China’s in World Elite as part of Group B. But the more interesting battle is on the other side of that bracket—Gambit Gaming and CJ Entus.
In Mar. 2013, Gambit faced CJ Entus Frost at the IEM Season VII World Championship, losing the game to place top four. The two teams have changed quite a bit over the past two years, but each have two holdouts: Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and Edward Abgaryan for Gambit, and Park “Shy” Sang-myeon and Hong “MadLife” Min-gi for CJ Entus. It’s a throwback to a different era of League, before the League Championship Series and Riot Games’ more structured competition format.
And that’s what fans are hoping to get out of IEM Katowice next week—a taste of the good old days, with dozens of international tournaments, where one series and one match decide whether you move on or go home. Will America and Europe be able to challenge Asian dominance? Will SK Gaming or Team SoloMid perform on the international stage? Can Cloud9 show magic against Korea yet again? We’re going to find out, and it’s bound to be exciting.