IEM Katowice 2017 Event Preview: A champion's challenge
Yes, IEM Katowice is back, and we hope it’ll be better than ever. Every time this tournament comes around, we are bound to be in for a wild ride. This clip is from IEM Katowice 2016, which took place a month or so before the MLG Major.
As you can see, this event means a lot to the players, and I imagine it means just as much this year. A host of teams on the rise, as well as some returning champions from the last couple of tournaments will be attending this event. The two groups are as follows:
As you can see, VP and SK have been pitted against each other in Group A after their showdown in the finals at DreamHack Las Vegas. As in Group A are the new rosters of North and Heroic, the Danish double troubles who will more than likely be competing for the third spot out of the group alongside the CIS mix team Na’Vi and North America's only hope in this group, Cloud9.
Over in Group B, things get a little more complicated. Astralis is the heavy favorite to top this group. They are the reigning major champions and are still contested for number one in the world after their close loss to the Polish crew VP.
Also in the mix is OpTic Gaming with their “stand-in” Spencer "Hiko" Martin. Whether the team can perform to their all-time high of number three in the world (on HLTV ratings) is still yet to be seen. FaZe, who is a huge Call of Duty rival with OpTic, will be fielding their new roster with the addition of NiKo, a player who has been referred to as the best person currently playing. Hopefully, with this stronger lineup, a few tournaments and accommodations will be awarded to the least-decorated best player in the world.
Further down in the group, we have NiP and Fnatic. Both teams have veteran squads who have, at one point in history, been the most dominant team on the circuit. However, in the later stages of 2016 and early stages of 2017, these teams have failed to show that they can be at the top once again.
If you want some statistics, NiP placed top-14 at the major qualifier, losing to Vega Squadron 16-2 on Cache and placed top-eight at Vegas, losing to Astralis 16-6 on Inferno and 16-7 on Mirage.
Fnatic showed some fire at the major by reaching the semifinals after shutting down the dark horse team Gambit 2-1, but even that series was shaky; the scores were 16-7, 3-16 and 16-7. They then moved on to DreamHack Las Vegas, where they were crushed by Gambit 16-8 and Virtus.pro in a best-of-three, 16-9 and 16-2. They did beat the new Misfits roster from North America, but for a team like Fnatic, many expected a little more.
The final team in the group is Immortals with a slightly new roster after the player switch with SK. Since fnx has joined the all-Brazilian squad, he and the team have won nine out of the 15 games they have played. His impact in the game seems to be a positive one and I am personally looking forward to seeing how they play this week.
As you can see, Group B has so many storylines and underlying factors that are going to make this IEM a fantastic event. This five-day event in Poland starts on March 2 and runs through March 5. The tournament will be streamed on Twitch and one team will be crowned the champion and take with them the lion's share of $250,000.