IEM Katowice 2016: Preview
Posted 2016-03-01 Dare_Dev1L
With the distinguished and well acclaimed IEM Katowice to begin in less than 24 hours, it will be tough to attempt to anticipate how the event will unfold. Unlike a diverse ESL Barcelona 2016, all five of the top five teams in the world are in attendance. This of course, is mainly due to the $250,000+ prize pool that's on show for the event, despite Valve not being a part of this year's competition. In this preview, I will divide the teams up into favorites and underdogs, and I will discuss the recent form of the teams and attempt to predict their most likely results for better or for worse. I would like to remind everyone that I made these lists on accord to my own personal opinion on the teams' recent form and their potential. Let's begin!
The Favorites: Fnatic, Na'Vi, Luminosity, EnVyUs, Astralis, Virtus.Pro
I agree, it is definitely a very stacked competition. What's interesting about these rosters are not only what we consider powerful lineups now, but about how the community perceived a lot of these lineups in the past. It's safe to say that some teams were not considered much of a threat before, as others were considered unstoppable when first created and were challenged by teams previously not considered a threat. Isn't that the beauty of eSports though?
For this preview let's start with the team everyone is here to read about, Fnatic. The boys are the sort who have it all and win it all, but don't allow for enough variety to discuss in length about. Ever since the team recruited Dennis on November of 2015, they have won every single offline event they have attended. Five events to be exact, but who's counting? Oh right, the spectacle has been the admiration of many analysts as of late, and it really makes you wonder how long they can keep the record going for. I still feel like the boys need to bring their A-game at this event, as it will really be a tough one to outlast. However, if there's anyone who could play a game of endurance, it would be Fnatic.
Na'Vi are one of those teams as mentioned earlier, that really surprised me the past few months. The squad boast one of the best players of 2015 that goes by the name of Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács, who has really stepped up to the plate and gives top AWPers a real run for their money. The team in general was widely considered mediocre in the past, with their biggest results being at events closer to home. They had the knack to surprise a few teams here and there, but never really performed up to their potential standards. That however changed for a while now, and have really shown their hand both online and offline. Whether I would label them one of the top three teams in the world? I can see that. There's one thing for sure, they definitely have the potential to give Fnatic a hard time in the group stages.
Luminosity are a team that came out of no where from South America and surprised the world. They originally dominated the South American scene and decided to move to the United States to try their hand at the NA scene, as many laughed off as an amusing attempt by them. After a long boot camp they came to Europe in their first debut against the top teams in the world, and they really did deliver. After multiple qualifications and consistent quarter to semi final finishes, they have placed themselves as one of the top five teams in the world. I honestly have never seen a team as deserving of a few titles than the hard working Brazilians, they really needed a break and they succeeded.
EnVyUs are in a bit of a dilemma currently, they are definitely a top three team but they sometimes struggle to show it. The roster was built to be untouchable, with yet another formidable French shuffle that awed the world. They still seem to have a lot of bad luck on their side, with questionable performances against underdogs that allow for upsets, as well as constantly having Fnatic in their way to a title victory. They should never be underestimated though, they are still a powerful lineup and can beat any team, even Fnatic.
Astralis' storyline is neither about heartbreak or achievements. They are consistent, but their story generally starts with a good group stage and ends with an exit either before or at the grand final. That's not to say they're bad at all, quite the contrary, their lineup was widely considered one of the strongest combination of talent in the world. Although, it seems that lately their talent is what carries them into a consistent rhythm but does not win them major titles.
Virtus.Pro in my opinion has been disappointing the past few months, they can't seem to catch a break and always end up continuing on their path to the bottom of the pool. Slump aside however, I still see them as one of the top teams at this event and if they can snap out of it, should still be able to manage to get far in this competition. As it is currently, they just manage to break through to my list of favorites but are still a shadow of their previous selves.
The Underdogs: NiP, mousesports, FaZe, E-Frag.net, TheMongolz, Tempo Storm
NiP in the underdog list? If this were the first two years of CS:GO's inception, I might as well retire for making such an assumption. As it stands, they have been on a declining slump ever since other teams have started catching up in late 2013-early 2014. However, this is the debut of their latest roster featuring Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi. If online statistics are anything to go by, their newest member isn't doing so well being averaged out as the worst rating in his new team. That is subject to change though as he's still adapting to his new team, and this is his first official LAN under the banner of NiP. I don't have high hopes for this new team but that's because I've seen their results online, so I'll come into this with a clear mind and state that whatever happens, let's treat this as a brand new lineup and see how well they do in their debut.
TheMongolz and Temp Storm are pretty much the biggest underdogs in this competition, they have both done well in their domestic qualifications. I do not see TheMongolz getting anywhere near qualifying the group stage as their group is heavily stacked with top tiered teams, but I do see this as good experience for them and possibly an introduction to a new era for them in international competitions. As for Tempo Storm, they performed well in North America in multiple qualifications and are still somewhat unproven. I can see them doing decently well in the group stage, but I don't see them qualifying to the playoffs.
FaZe is considered one of the first international lineups in CS:GO that performed well, although fallen off the beaten path along the way. All of the players in the roster are strong aimers and can outshine most players in the tournament, but regardless of talent they haven't really shown results ever since the loss of Dennis "dennis" Edman to Fnatic. I do believe that Philip "aizy" Aistrup was a strong addition to the lineup and could still prove to be a vital part in their success, and I can see them making the top three of the groups and passing the quarter finals on a good day.
The wildcards of the event have to be both mousesports and E-Frag, they both have the capabilities of surprising even the best teams. They haven't been spectacular as of late, but whenever there's a big event around the corner I've seen both teams hit big numbers, if not winning outright against the top five teams in the world. You should definitely watch their games, people have a knack for underestimating them and skipping their games, but I've always noticed their games can get quite exhilarating. If you're a betting man, I would not bet on or against them honestly.
So what makes a team a favorite or an underdog? It's not the capabilities or the potential of a lineup, but who's the most likely to be consistent at any given day. Other than a few underdogs mentioned above, most of the teams can make it out of groups or pull off spectacular comebacks. The advantage of being an underdog on the other hand, is that the teams above have a good chance of anti-stratting a top team without the top team developing a counter. I believe that will be the difference maker at an event of this magnitude, otherwise it will be a battle of the favorites as usual. The real question is, will this be Fnatic's sixth event in a row?