Stories to Watch at IEM Katowice 2022
One of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s biggest tournaments, IEM Katowice 2022, is about to get under way. Twenty-four of the best teams in the world will gather in iconic Katowice, Poland from February 15 to 27 to fight for the prestigious IEM Katowice trophy. In addition to the fame and glory, a $1 million dollar prize pool and tons of ESL Pro Tour and BLAST Premier circuit points are up for grabs.
IEM Katowice will be an all-LAN tournament with players meeting in person. The Play-In Stage will take place from February 15 to 16 and will feature 16 teams who were not able to directly qualify for the Group Stage. Opening matches will be best-of-one with all following matches being best-of-three. Teams need two match wins to qualify for the next stage.
The Group Stage will run from February 17 to 20. The top eight teams from the Play-In Stage will meet up with the eight direct qualifiers to form two groups. Teams will play through a double elimination bracket with the top three from each group qualifying for the final stage.
The IEM Katowice Playoffs will take place in the famous Spodek Arena and will start on February 25 with the Grand Finals on February 27. The top two seeds from groups will earn a ticket straight to the semifinals while the other four teams start in the quarters. All matches will be best-of-three except the Grand Finals which will be best-of-five.
The 24 teams present at IEM Katowice are as follows:
Directly Qualified Teams
|Ninjas in Pyjamas
The NAVI Era
The favorite to win IEM Katowice has to be NAVI. The CIS squad is coming off of their best year ever. Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and his team won numerous trophies in 2022, including the Intel Grand Slam and the PGL Major Stockholm. The Katowice title was one of few that evaded NAVI last year. Taking it home would mean that NAVI have acquired the four most prestigious titles in Counter-Strike within a one-year span.
Defending their Title
The team that denied NAVI the IEM Katowice trophy last year is back and ready to go for their second. Gambit Esports come into the tournament ranked second in the world. While this young squad of CIS superstars has some of the best talent and strategy in the game, they were overshadowed last year by their big brothers. Gambit will have a chance to distinguish themselves once again here at Katowice.
Team Swaps Galore
This off-season was one of the most chaotic times for roster shuffles that we’ve ever seen in Counter-Strike. The biggest and most impactful changes made have to be from G2 Esports and Team Vitality. Both teams have expanded their rosters even further than France and Serbia.
G2 has acquired the Finnish Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen from OG to be their new in-game leader. They’ve also signed 16-year-old prodigy AWPer Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov from NAVI Junior in what is likely the biggest contract ever offered to someone born in 2005. From what we saw of G2 at BLAST Spring Groups, this roster has a very high ceiling. The only team to best them at the event was the new look Vitality.
The previously all-French squad has expanded to Denmark in a half team revamp. The Astralis core of Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, Emil “Magisk” Reif, and coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen has thoroughly shaken up the dynamic of the team. Alongside star player Mathieu “ZwyOo” Herbaut, this Vitality team has years of top-level experience and success behind them. Perhaps this squad can elevate as the super team they are on paper at Katowice.
New Look Liquid
North American Counter-Strike’s greatest hope is back with a revamped roster. Team Liquid has decided to move on from their previous team, saying goodbye and hello to both familiar and new faces. Veterans Jake “Stewie2K” Yip and Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo are out. Replacing them are Frenchman Richard “shox” Papillon and the fresh-out-of-retirement Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella.
While Liquid did have a shaky 2021 to say the least, their old roster actually performed quite well at IEM Katowice. They won their group by taking down NAVI and made semifinals, although their run was ended by Virtus.pro. Maybe this new look Liquid can also go further than anticipated.
As IEM Katowice is the first big tournament after the off-season, many teams will be taking their new rosters for an intensive test drive to see what their new ceilings look like. Among them are OG, MOUZ, FaZe Clan, and Complexity.
OG were part of an IGL trade about three weeks prior to the tournament. In exchange for sending Aleksib to G2, they have received Nemanja “nexa” Isaković. Nexa was known as one of the best fragging IGL’s during his time on G2. He will be looking to continue to elevate his squad even if they’re not necessarily title contenders.
MOUZ and FaZe have also added a single player to their ranks. For MOUZ, they’ve enlisted 13-year veteran Nathan “NBK-” Schmit from his retirement. FaZe on the other hand signed Robin “ropz” Kool away from MOUZ. However, he will be sitting out the initial rounds at minimum due to testing positive for COVID. In his place will be stand-in Justin “jks” Savage from Complexity.
Speaking of Complexity, they will be fielding their new North American roster at IEM Katowice. While this team may not be as strong as the likes of Team Liquid on paper, they have enough skill and experience behind them to remain an upset threat.
IEM Katowice kicks off on February 15 at 4am CT with Grand Finals on February 27.