The Intel Extreme Masters Katowice has established itself as one of the biggest CS:GO tournaments on the calendar and this year will be no different. IEM Katowice 2017 will feature some of the top teams from NA and EU, the only difference from previous Katowice events is that nine of the twelve teams have won a premier CS:GO tournament in 2016 and 2017. The winner is hard to pick from such a stellar line-up, but there are some worthy challengers that could dethrone some of the big names heading into the event.
Group A seems to be the easier of the two groups featuring Astralis, OpTic Gaming, FaZe Clan, Ninja in Pyjamas, Fnatic and Immortals. By no means is this a cake walk for any team, but Astralis seems to be the clear #1 coming out of the group. The Danish lineup has stepped up their game in the last couple of events with the notable addition of Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander. The 2nd place team in this group is a more of a challenge to predict: OpTic, FaZe and Fnatic are all struggling to gel their new lineups together, yet two of these teams will surely make it out of groups.
Betting against Fnatic is always a dangerous game, but FaZe should be the 2nd team out. In adding a new member in Nikola “NiKo” Kovac, FaZe should have no problem fitting him into the team structure. OpTic Gaming seem to be struggling without an experienced in-game leader and are figuring out their roles with Spencer “Hiko” Martin joining the roster, but could prove deadly with their new lineup.
While Fnatic iron out the problems that broke them apart in 2016, they should be the third team out of Group A since historically they are the best team in CS:GO history. Immortals has the potential for an upset in a best of one, but shouldn’t cause any real disturbances. Astralis, FaZe and Fnatic will be the dominant forces to emerge from Group A.
Group B is a different story altogether with one of the hardest groups to predict in the history of the tournament. Group B features Virtus.pro, SK Gaming, North, Cloud9, Natus Vincere and Heroic. The scene’s previous tournament, DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, featured Virtus.pro and SK Gaming pitted against one other, now they find themselves both locked in to Group B for IEM Katowice. VP and SK are pitched as the two teams to progress from Group B, but if any teams are gonna throw a wrench in the works it’ll be North, Cloud9, Na’Vi or Heroic.
North can be considered to be a dark horse since adding Philip “aizy” Aistrup into their lineup, but North has always centered their play on structured CS:GO. The best of one format can catch them off guard and can cause them to lose to any team in Group B. Cloud9 have been absent from many recent events, but have added former Team SoloMid coach Soham “valens” Choudhury to their roster to bolster their chances.
Cloud9 have repeatedly shown they can beat top tier teams in any best of one, making for an interesting group. Na’Vi had been predicted to be strong contenders, but with the recent news of Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s health issues, the roster may struggle if he doesn’t show up. Heroic is a tier two EU CS:GO team, but has a legend of Counter-Strike in Andreas “MODDII” Fridh who can lead them to an upset. Although there are many question marks, Virtus.Pro and SK Gaming should make it out of Group B with Na’Vi as the final team to claw their way out.
IEM Katowice always has some of the best CS:GO action and couldn’t come at a better time, with each of the top tier teams looking to make a statement. The teams within Group B will whittle one another down, while Astralis should have a fairly easy time in Group A. Look for Astralis to be crowned champions of IEM Katowice 2017 to much dismay from the Polish crowd.