On Monday, one of the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments of the year, IEM Katowice, began. The tournament is known as one of the largest and most prestigious non-majors of the year and includes Astralis, Team Liquid, Natus Vincere and Vitality — some of the best teams in the world. In fact, the top 10 teams from the HLTV Rankings are all attending, making Katowice the biggest tournament of the 2020 season so far.
The tournament, which takes place from Feb. 24 to March 1, boasts a $500,000 prize pot. The winning team will take home half of that, or $250,000, while teams that place thirteenth to sixteenth will win just $2,500. The entire tournament, except for the grand final which is a best-of-five, will be best-of-threes, much to the delight of fans. In prior years, the first match for each team was a best-of-one, but many believe that that makes it much easier for underdog teams to pull off a victory and knock better teams into the lower bracket early, which can help lead to a less interesting playoff bracket.
Astralis enters the tournament, as they do every tournament, as favorites. After nearly two years of dominant performances from the Danish roster, they’re looking to make this their second IEM Katowice win in a row. But Mousesports, which is ranked as the second-best team in the world, has claimed several titles recently including a win at ICE Challenge earlier this month. They also won the ESL Pro League finals back at the end of December in a shocking run that included a victory over Astralis in the semifinals.
While the favorites coming into Katowice are powerful, there are also a number of underdog teams. Cloud9 brought a revamped roster of young talent to Poland, and Mad Lions, who bought out the Tricked lineup late last year, had a surprisingly solid performance at the ICE challenge leading into this tournament, where they claimed third place.
The tournament is in the group stage until Friday when the quarter-finals begin. This is an intense schedule, as it means teams who play on Friday will not have a day off before the playoffs as they would get in many tournaments. These players will have to hope that the preparation done before the tournament and around their games will adequately prepare them for the playoff matches, where they’ll fight to be the best team in one of the most legendary Counter-Strike tournaments in the world
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.