IEM Katowice 2021 Play-In Stage - Preview

We take a look at how the teams stack up heading into the play-in stage of IEM Katowice 2021

Freelance Esports Writer
16th Feb, 21·☕️ 7 min read

We take a look at how the teams stack up heading into the play-in stage of IEM Katowice 2021.

Competition Information

Sixteen teams will compete at the IEM Katowice Play-in stage hoping to be one of the eight teams that will join Astralis, G2, Heroic and Evil Geniuses at the main event on Thursday.

The play-in stage will feature a double-elimination bracket, with the top eight advancing straight to the main event. The opening matches will be best-of-one, with the remainder of the matches being best-of-three.

These are the participants:

  • 🇩🇪 BIG
  • 🇪🇸 Movistar Riders
  • 🇷🇺 Spirit
  • 🇪🇺 Cloud9
  • 🇷🇺 Gambit
  • 🇧🇷 TeamOne
  • 🇦🇺 Renegades
  • 🇪🇺 mousesports
  • 🇷🇺
  • 🇵🇱 Wisla Krakow
  • 🇸🇪 NiP
  • 🇪🇺 Complexity
  • 🇪🇺 OG
  • 🇸🇪 fnatic
  • 🇧🇷 MIBR
  • 🇺🇸 Liquid

The IEM Katowice Play-in stage kicks off February 16th and will run throuh February 17th. The main event will start February 18th and will finish February 28th.

The Current Season

Teams to Watch


Record: 22 / 0 / 14
Most Played Map: Inferno (80.0%)
Best Map: Inferno (80.0%)
Worst Map: Nuke (37.5%)

mousesports have just announced the departure of karrigan, who leaves the team to re-join his former team, FaZe. Replacing him will be dexter, who comes in from Renegades. The Australian in-game leader will make his debut for mousesports at this tournament against none other than his former teammates from Renegades in the opening match. While the loss of karrigan is a big hit to the team, it is still an exciting roster on paper with plenty of young talent. The question is how dexter will perform after being away from top tier CS for so long, having played in Australia during the pandemic. There might be a bit of a transition period, but once they get things rolling I could see them doing some damage.


Record: 44 / 0 / 48
Most Played Map: Mirage (60.9%)
Best Map: Overpass (63.6%)
Worst Map: Train (25.0%)

poizon has finally returned to Complexity after a leave of absence, and what a difference this has made. The Bulgarian had an immediate impact, as the team blitzed through the BLAST Spring Group Stage beating Vitality, G2 and Evil Geniuses. This team is no joke when they are at full strength, and they should have what it takes to qualify here. However, they have received a pretty tough part of the bracket with both NiP and, two teams that are also playing great CS at the moment.


Record: 47 / 2 / 53
Most Played Map: Train (57.1%)
Best Map: Overpass (60.0%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (16.7%)

NiP decided to release twist from the roster and promote ztr from their academy team, and the youngster had great showings for NiP in recent upsets against Astralis and BIG at BLAST Spring Groups. It appears as if ztr is very calm under pressure and has made NiP a stronger team. It may just be a bit of a honey period for NiP right now, but they are looking pretty solid. The problem is that they are playing a stronger Complexity side in the opener, and potentially as well. should be a good fit for them purely based on map pools, but it seems they struggle against them stylistically.


Record: 34 / 0 / 24
Most Played Map: Dust2 (38.5%)
Best Map: Vertigo (100.0%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (38.5%)

There isn’t much to be said about BIG except that they are a very strong team with great individuals and strong fundamentals. As the top seed, they have been handed a bit of a gift with Movistar Riders in the opener whom they should have no issues getting past. Their main competitor is likely Spirit who can match them in terms of firepower, but with this being a double-elimination bracket, I think they should be making it out without much of an issue.

Record: 35 / 0 / 15
Most Played Map: Mirage (63.6%)
Best Map: Dust2 (87.5%)
Worst Map: Mirage (63.6%) are one of the hottest teams in the game right now, having catapulted all the way up to No.5 in the world rankings. YEKINDAR’s entry prowess has really unlocked the trio of Jame, buster and qikert and it seems like they have the perfect set-up at the moment. Their slow play on the T side has proven to be very effective against some teams, and it is hard to see them not making it through here when you consider that they go up against Wisla Krakow in the opener.


Record: 20 / 0 / 14
Most Played Map: Dust2 (77.8%)
Best Map: Dust2 (77.8%)
Worst Map: Overpass (0.0%)

This is probably one of the most interesting teams right now. They were already a very dangerous team due to the raw skill on the roster, but the addition of degster and Patsi has made them even stronger in this regard. Sadly, both the oddsmakers and the general public have jumped on the hype train after they won DreamHack Open January, so I don’t expect any juicy odds on Spirit at this tournament. I would expect Spirit to make the top 10 sooner or later, which would be a first for them as a team.


Record: 17 / 0 / 9
Most Played Map: Inferno (80.0%)
Best Map: Inferno (80.0%)
Worst Map: Vertigo (40.0%)

Much like NiP, fnatic have decided to take a chance on youth with the addition of Jackinho. They have now played one event with him, and he looked pretty good despite not playing with the AWP - which is his prefered role. They ended cs_summit 7 in second place with wins against Complexity, OG, Cloud9 and Heroic, which was a respectable performance all things considered. KRIMZ was playing lights out throughout the event, and it will be interesting to see if he will keep this form going. Perhaps an injection of youth was what they needed to get back on track after struggling a bit with the online matches. From what I have heard from people within the Swedish scene, Jackinho is a player who has great mental fortitude and a strong will to win, which may prove to be what they need right now. However, I do hope that they give him a chance with the AWP eventually.

Best of the rest

Gambit stand out as a team that should be in a great spot to qualify. CIS Counter-Strike is firing on all cylinders right now and Gambit are no exception. They have been given a very easy side of the bracket with TeamOne, Renegades, and a mousesports team that just changed their roster. I also think OG shouldn’t be understimated. Both Liquid and MIBR have looked poor, so there is a very good chance that fnatic and OG qualify.

Betting Tips

There aren’t too many games that stand out as great value in the opening matches. Spirit against Cloud9 at odds of 1.70 is probably the play that I like the most. Also, Complexity should be in a good spot to win against NiP due to how poor NiP are on Nuke.


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