The first stage of IEM Katowice 2019 is drawing to an end and the second stage, called The New Legends Stage, is scheduled to start next week, on February 20th. The first competitive week of the Major went quite unexpectedly, with a lot of underdogs moving forward. But that will make the second week even more predictable, simply because the best teams in the world will now face even less experienced teams than they would have under normal conditions.
The New Challengers Stage at IEM Katowice 19 Review
The New Challengers Stage ends today, February 17th. At this point, 5 of the 16 teams are eliminated, 5 are qualified and 6 of them have one more match to play.
The qualified teams are NRG Esports, Renegades, Team Vitality, AVANGAR and ENCE eSports. This was partly expected, in the sense that everyone had seen NRG Esports, Renegades and ENCE eSports moving forward. But AVANGAR and Team Vitality are something of a surprise, even though by looking at their rosters, one can clearly recognize a lot of very strong players. So perhaps their result in the first stage of IEM Katowice is not that shocking after all.
What makes matters strange though is the fact that among the 16 teams that are taking part in the first stage of IEM Katowice, some of them are former Major champions. So at first glance, you’d think: how come these 5 teams that have qualified were able to do that to the detriment of Fnatic, Vega Squadron, NiP, G2 Esports and Cloud9?
The 5 teams that got eliminated are Fnatic, Vega Squadron, FURIA Esports, Team Spirit and Grayhound Gaming. The final 3 were expected to crash and burn during the first stage of the tournament but the first 2 were certainly not. In particular, Fnatic’s result constitutes a huge upset that will almost surely lead to big roster changes.
And finally, we have the 6 teams that are still in the race: Cloud9, G2 Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, TYLOO, ViCi Gaming and Winstrike Team. The matches will be the following:
NiP vs. ViCi Gaming
The Ninjas clearly have a better chance of winning, not only because of their superior roster but also because of their vast experience. ViCi Gaming are a relatively new team in CS:GO and in spite of beating Fnatic and Cloud9 at IEM Katowice, they still start the match as underdogs. To make matters even more complicated for them, this will be a Bo3 series. So they can’t just get lucky on one map. They have to win 2 of them. It’s doable, but not likely.
G2 Esports vs. TYLOO
As good as G2 Esports used to be and in spite of the fact that they have kennyS in their roster, their performance over the last 6 months has been very poor. At the same time TYLOO proved to be a fairly strong team during the first 4 rounds of the first stage of IEM Katowice. These two indicators clearly point towards a TYLOO victory in this match. But it will be close nonetheless. Being less experienced, TYLOO may suffer from a lot of anxiety while G2 will likely arrive much calmer at the match.
Cloud9 vs. Winstrike
A simple look at Cloud9’s current map record shows the scale of the disaster they’ve gone through up until this point. But it’s not an entirely new thing for them. Last year, C9 went through something very similar at the Major before proving themselves to be the best team at the event.
The last obstacle in C9’s path is Winstrike, a team that managed to beat both Fnatic and NiP and this event. That’s rather scary. And given that Cloud9 defeated FURIA and Grayhound Gaming, two opponents who are theoretically much weaker than NiP and Fnatic, there’s a real chance that Winstrike will win this match. Based on the two team’s current form, the CIS team is probably the favorite.
The IEM Katowice New Legends Stage Preview
The second stage of IEM Katowice will be much more unbalanced than the first, for the reasons already mentioned. All you need to do to figure that out is to look at the young teams that have qualified so far after stage one and then compare them with the powerhouses that await them in The New Legends Stage.
The Serious Contendeners At IEM Katowice
Among the scary teams that are waiting to start playing in the tournament, 5 are formidable: Astralis, Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, MIBR and FaZe Clan. These 5 teams are almost guaranteed to advance to the 3rd and final stage of IEM Katowice. The only way in which this might not happen is if they meet each other more than once during the 3-5 matches that will be played by each during The New Legends Stage.
Apart from these 5 serious contenders, we have 3 others who are certainly not as good: BIG, HellRaisers and compLexity Gaming. Among them, BIG has recently gone through severe roster changes, losing some very important players. This makes them an easy target for the majority of teams who will be present in the second stage of the tournament.
The most likely winners of IEM Katowice are Astralis, Team Liquid and Natus Vincere, followed closely by MIBR. It will be interesting to see what Astralis have managed to do to eliminate the inconsistencies and mistakes that were easy to spot in their defeat against Team Liquid, in the Grand Final of iBUYPOWER Masters IV from 1 month ago.
Astralis – Still At The Top Of The Food Chain?
No doubt, device and his squad have prepared new strategies for this event. The old ones were starting to become predictable to some degree. And even though their flawless execution still meant that they could win with them in spite of practically letting their opponents know what their plans are, some of the other top teams have started to figure them out and counter not just the strats, but the individual moves of each player.
They might look like an unbeatable machine most of the time, but the reality is that Astralis are still a team of human beings. And they too crack under pressure from time to time. It doesn’t happen too often, but the fact that it can happen gives their opponents hope. And with hope, a lot of other things can be done.
Team Liquid With Heads Held High After iBUYPOWER Master IV
Another scary contender for the title of IEM Katowice is Team Liquid. They have a new player, Stewie2K and a new coach, adreN, with whom they already won a tournament under some very difficult conditions. This must have cemented their confidence in their new lineup, giving them a lot of optimism for future matches. Apart from Astralis, Natus Vincere and MIBR, Team Liquid are likely to smash without any problem every opponent they will face.
Possibly the 3rd best team at this tournament, Natus Vincere heavily rely on s1mple and electronic to do the heavy lifting. But then again, there’s no reason to assume that they won’t be able to carry their side to victory. All indicators point towards a good result for Na’Vi at IEM Katowice, with one exception. At the recent GG.Bet Ice Challenge, Na’Vi manage to lose somehow against North, in the Grand Final. This was an unexpected result, but there’s a high chance that s1mple and the rest of his squad simply didn’t take the match seriously enough.