IEM Katowice brings back the Counter-Strike fever to the Spodek Arena.
IEM Katowice is almost here and 2024 is the first edition of the event to feature Counter-Strike 2. With thousands of fans and most of the top teams descending at the Spodek Arena in Katowice, the celebration of Counter-Strike is already here. Here’s a quick preview of what to expect from IEM Katowice 2024.
There are eight directly qualified teams for the event that kicks off on January 31. The nearly 12-day event will have a million dollars in prize pool and twenty-four teams in attendance. But only one can emerge victorious in what is the first big International Counter-Strike event of the year. More importantly, the winner receives a direct qualification to both IEM Cologne 2024 as well as the BLAST Premier World Final later this year.
The favorites at the event are based on their recent results, stability as well as their potential to persevere through the event. We have chosen three teams who have the most chances of success at Katowice.
Vitality are undoubtedly the team to watch out for in the first half of 2024. After winning all their BLAST events to finish out 2023, they are the team to defeat this event.
Vitality finished with 2-0 victories over FaZe Clan at BLAST Premier World Finals as well as Fall Finals last year. While a 2-0 victory might sound a lot more dominating, Vitality’s all-around strength is a mix of high-frag capabilities as well as a strategic insight that few can match.
Like the rest of the direct invites, Vitality will play in the Group Stage. They are not up against FaZe Clan (Who are in Group A) and that gives Vitality a distinct advantage in this event.
FaZe Clan is one of the few teams that can challenge Vitality in this event. The team’s playstyle focuses more on the aggressive style that counters Vitalitiy’s playstyle.
FaZe Clan is in Group A, in the upper bracket finals. If FaZe wins their inaugural match then they will most likely face off against Team Falcons. Falcons include several of the former Vitality members including the likes of Magisk and Zonic.
NAVI S1mple announced he is stepping down from the active roster. The team hasn’t played any matches since then. It will be interesting to see how NAVI performs without the player who has formed their core over the past several years.
NAVI has been the middle-of-the-pack team recently with consistent top-eight or top-four finishes. The team has not been able to crack into the top echelons of Counter-strike despite remaining a contender for a long time.
With S1mple's departure, it fundamentally changes the structure and the firepower on the roster. And as such, it will be interesting to see how the team stands up at Katowice. With the majority of the squad retaining its position on the roster and the addition of w0nderful from Sprout, NAVI remains a strong contender at the event.
W0nderful's addition raises the team's stock value. In terms of pure fragging capability, he is one of the few players who can completely replace S1mple. However, in terms of leadership, it will be interesting to see if AleksiB, who has been with the team since June last year, can manage the different players.
With a 0.72 kills per round rating, W0nderful might just pull NAVI up by the sheer fragging capability. The 19-year-old has played on Team Spirit and HellRaisers before joining NAVI and has some experience against other Tier 1 teams.
While the favorites are not new names, all eyes are on the contenders. There are twenty-four teams at the event and quite a few can pose a significant challenge to the Favorites.
G2 is the team that almost made it to our Favorites list. However, the team has faltered at the final stage on more than one occasion and it is rightfully in the Contenders list. With a star-studded roster that has been together for some time, G2 has had a few changes late last year. Notable amongst them is the addition of former VP superstar Taz as the coach. They also added nexa to the CS roster boosting their firepower and strategic insight.
Taz’s addition as the coach is interesting as it will remain to be seen how the former player will aid G2’s current lineup. In terms of playstyle to the 2014/15 VirtusPro, we can draw some similarities with the existing G2 lineup. However, the players have a different temperament and it will be interesting to see if Taz can manage the different personalities as well.
The new additions are the biggest X-factor on G2 esports. Nexa joins the team after a long stint (both active and inactive) on OG esports. The 26-year-old Serbian player has had a 53.5% headshot percentage. With a 64.9 damage per round, his impact on the round has to be more in terms of strategic placement than raw firepower. And for a roster like G2 esports, that is exactly what they require.
MOUZ has seen a fall of nearly two placements in the HLTV World Rankings. The team’s core remains the same with Brollan joining the squad from NIP. The youngster’s addition adds some firepower but NIP and MOUZ had quite different playstyles, that will come into focus during this transition.
MOUZ didn’t have a great performance during the PGL Major Copenhagen European Qualifier B. They finished 7th losing 1-2 to a team named Preasy Esports. The Danish squad comprises some superstars in the form of Dupreeh, Roej and refrezh, however, MOUZ has been together for much longer. The surprise loss comes as a big surprise for MOUZ fans as they would have expected the team to put up a strong showing in the qualifiers.
Complexity & Team Falcons
Complexity is a team that can put up quite a big surprise. It shouldn’t come off as a very big surprise if they manage to even win the tournament. The consistent results over the past few months have boosted this team’s image and rankings in the Counter-Strike world. At IEM Katowice 2024, Complexity will be looking forward to stamping their authority as a team to fear. They’d want to prove that their recent results were not flukes and that consistency is something they can command.
Complexity starts off in Group A and would likely face NAVI if they win early. With three teams qualifying from the Group stage into the playoffs, there is a good chance one or two upset victories will lead Complexity straight into the top eight.
The team finished top four at the Fall Finals and won the North American open qualifier. It is a tough road ahead for them, but they have the potential to cause a few upsets that might pave the way for a top finish.
The other team that has immense potential at the event is Team Falcons. Once touted to be the Counter-Strike 2 superteam, Team Falcons’ roster announcement was quite underwhelming. However, they have a few big names and ofcourse one of the biggest coaching names in Zonic. Playing with Snappi, Magisk, and SunPayus, Team Falcons has not had the opportunity to prove themselves in international events.
As such it will be interesting to see what Zonic and co. bring to the Spodek Arena in front of thousands of viewers. Both of these teams have a very small chance of actually winning the event, but with the recent roster changes and their unknown X-factors, they might cause quite a few upsets at the event.
IEM Katowice will be live on Twitch and Counter-Strike fans can catch all the action live here.