So far, the CIS teams have been dominant at IEM Katowice. But will they be able to overcome more established teams like Astralis? We take a look at how the teams stack up heading into one of the most exciting playoffs of the year.
So far, the CIS teams have been dominant at IEM Katowice. But will they be able to overcome more established teams like Astralis? We take a look at how the teams stack up heading into one of the most interesting playoff brackets of the year.
With the group stage coming to an end, it is time for the top dogs to duke it out in the playoffs of IEM Katowice. As alluded to earlier, the story of the tournament so far has been the rise of the CIS teams. Virtus.pro, Gambit, Spirit and CIS veterans Natus Vincere all made it through to the playoffs. No matter the outcome, this will be a truly historic tournament for the region.
The last two teams to grab a spot in the playoffs were Astralis and Team Liquid. The fact that Astralis would make it through was to be expected, but Liquid’s run was more unpredictable. The North American team is on fire right now and is looking good with FalleN pulling the strings as the in-game leader of the squad.
Spirit and Liquid will start the playoffs in the semi-finals after winning their respective groups. The rest of the teams will have to duke it out in the quarter-finals.
The quarter and semi-finals will be played in best-of-three format, while the final will be a best-of-five.
The participants at the IEM Katowice playoffs are as follows:
The first round match-ups with odds:
The playoffs kick off February 26th with the game between Natus Vincere and Gambit and playoffs will run through You won’t want to miss it!
Virtus.pro lost to Natus Vincere in their first match of the group stage, but they battled back through the lower-bracket to qualify for the playoffs after wins against NiP, Vitality and FURIA. Virtus.pro was always a solid team but the addition of YEKINDAR has given them the aggressive playmaker that they were sorely missing. It has given the Kazakh duo of qikert and buster a lot more room to work with, not to mention Jame who is thriving. They take on a very difficult opponent in the form of Astralis in the opening match, but an upset isn’t entirely out of the question.
Gambit had a similar group stage journey as Virtus.pro. They started with a loss to Evil Geniuses in the opening match before blitzing through the lower-bracket with wins against mousesports, Heroic and G2. sh1ro has been showing why he is one of the most exciting AWPers in the world right now. He was the second-highest rated player at the group stage after s1mple and he has topped the charts in several other statisitical categories. His efficiency in clutches has been particularly eye-opening, having won a total of twelve 1vX situations throughout the group stage - five more than buster and KSCERATO at seven apiece. They will take on Natus Vincere in the opening match, a team that they haven’t beaten since June of last year. A difficult matchup for sure, but if sh1ro continues to play like this, s1mple will have a worthy opponent.
Natus Vincere beat out Virtus.pro and FURIA to secure their spot in the playoffs but after a loss to Liquid in the final match of the group stage they will have to start their playoff journey in the quarter-finals. s1mple haws been balling as per usual, and he was the highest-rated player in the group stage. It is so difficult to know what to expect from this NaVi side, but I suspect that they will be hungry to prove that they are still the top dogs in the CIS region now when they are threatened by the likes of Spirit, Virtus.pro and Gambit. However, we have seen them crumble against CIS teams in the past. Virtus.pro, Gambit, HardLegion, Syman and forZe are just a few CIS teams that they have lost to over the past year.
Astralis opened up strong with wins against mousesports and EG, but they were defeated by Spirit in the final match of the group stage. The last map of the series was an absolute beatdown, with Spirit winning 16-1 on Dust2. This is something we don’t see often from Astralis, as they are usually able to at least make things competitive in losses. With that said, those who have read my earlier previews know that I am very big on this new Spirit roster so I cannot say that I am particularly surprised. Astralis will still be a really tough team to beat, especially now when it matters the most.
Team Liquid with FalleN at the helm beat some impressive competition to make it through to the playoffs. They started their group stage run with a convincing 2-0 win against FaZe before beating out two giants of the game in the form of Vitality and Natus Vincere. Liquid looked really dodgy at the BLAST events to start the year, so I think few expected them to put up a performance like this. They must be feeling good about themselves right now, and a Liquid playing with confidence is a difficult team to beat. With Stewie2k being relieved from his in-game leading duties, he can focus a bit more on his game which is a positive thing. So far he has posted a rating of 1.02 at IEM Katowice, his first positive rating since IEM Beijing-Haidan in November of last year.
Those who have read some of my earlier work know that I simp pretty hard for this Spirit team. Much like Virtus.pro, they have a very good balance of aggressive players (mir, chopper) and more passive players (sdy, magixx). With the addition of degster, they now have one of the best AWPers in the game as well. If things were to go south, they can always bring in Patsi off the bench who is a very serviceable stand-in. They blitzed through the competition to secure their spot in the semi-finals, beating out G2, Heroic and Astralis. Both Heroic and Astralis are very fundamentally sound teams, which gives me confidence that they can beat teams who are tactically strong.
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