IEM Katowice 2021 is finally here, with the Play-in event kicking off and the Main Event just days away. IEM Katowice 2021 is the first major event in the CS:GO calendar with so many teams involved for several months. Naturally, the best squads in the ESL Pro Tour are awaiting Play-in results to compete on Thursday. However, there are many lineups looking for a shot to make it into the big leagues. Here are the stories to watch:
Main Event Narratives
The Main Event of Katowice has brought many good stories over the years. Natus Vincere won 2020’s event, and previously, in 2019, ENCE had their incredible underdog babyface run to the final. Similarly, this year has no shortage of stories. Here are the best:
FaZe Clan’s First Real Test
FaZe Clan has rebuilt their roster once again. Only this time, the roster has Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken and Finn “karrigan” Andersen. The team recently looked solid with nothing to lose at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2021, and that was without karrigan. IEM Katowice is their first real showing, and it is going to be a great gauge to see how they’re performing.
Heroic is a team that really grew into their own throughout 2020. The roster eventually peaked at the second half of the year, contending for finals in several events. And in the process, building an actual rivalry with Astralis. The roster did partially fall off in some events, coming 5th-8th at events like the Global Showdown and CS_Summit 7. Katowice is an event that will define Heroic as either a team falling off or still hanging one of the best in the world.
Vitality down to Five
Vitality is a team that has prided itself with its six-man roster, tactical substitutions, and winning events with their gameplay. However, the start of 2021 has not been great. A fine resulting from an accidental restream of an event noticed on broadcast, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut getting his lowest ADR game on record at BLAST Premier Spring 2021, and now the temporary leave of Dan “apEX” Madesclair has got the roster shaken up. Vitality has plenty of prep time, so the opening game for them is one to watch.
The Play-ins is the first leg of the tournament, looking to advance eight teams to the quarter-finals. There are plenty of teams in that pool scrapping it out to make it to the one of CS:GO’s most prestigious events. While there are many decent teams, there are a few high profile stories to watch.
How Will mousesports Fare?
Mousesports has gone from one of the best teams in the world several times to falling off the face of the earth. The roster is currently experiencing the latter. Both the aged veteran Chris “Chris J”de Jong is benched and on loan to FPX and karrigan has returned to FaZe Clan. With the veterans out, there are plenty of young talent fending for themselves. Add in the new IGL and the roster is interesting. The question is has Robin “ropz” Kool graduated from young star to the star player and now veteran of the mousesports roster in time?
The CIS Beast Awakens
Team Spirit, Virtus.pro, and Gambit are three teams on the rise in recent months. The tier 2 Russian squads have made it out of their region and began stomping teams like BIG, mousesports, and others in international online events. Both teams now arrive at their biggest challenge yet: IEM Katowice. Both teams have a darkhorse atmosphere to them, and it will be interesting to follow the growth of new CIS threats in the global scene. There is definitely potential for all these teams to break through the Play-Ins into the Main Event of IEM Katowice 2021.
Can Complexity Keep Up Appearances?
Complexity is a mixed-result team that has been in a weird spot since Owen “oBo” Schlatter left the team. The roster has rebuilt and recently won its group in the BLAST Premier Spring 2021. But now there are many more teams to face off against at of CS:GO’s biggest events. The question does the team have what it takes to keep up its appearances? the Play-Ins will be a perfect benchmark.