IEM Katowice 2016: Preview
Posted 2016-03-02 Amandajackson
We’re all caught up in the excitement of the past weeks of LCS action but all the while there’s been a world championship looming in the distance, Intel Extreme Masters Katowice. Join Fnatic, Origen, Counter Logic Gaming, ESC Ever, Qiao Gu Reapers, Team SoloMid, SK Telecom TI, and Royal Never Give Up for a weekend of games where one team will go home with international glory.
Let’s have a refresher of the teams joining us from around the world.
North American League Championship Series:
Travel back in time with us to Pre-Season 2015. Bjergsen found himself alone with four spots for TSM to fill. Doublelift joined, one of the biggest roster swaps in LCS history. Yellowstar and Svenskeren crossed the pond to pursue careers in America. Haunterz had big shoes to fill in the top lane. TSM seemed destined to rule at the top of the table in North America. Their lineup looked solid, five players who were well-established in their positions. It’s been a back and forth . You never know what version of this team will show up but we’re predicting a good show in their first international tournament.
CLG is another surprising team in the North American LCS. It was a huge moment when Doublelift announced he was leaving CLG. He was a high-performing veteran player who was an integral part of CLG for years. It was an even more shocking turn of events after CLG finally took home the title of LCS Champions. Combined with the loss of Pobelter in the mid-lane there were questions of how well CLG would perform this split. Right now the team is sitting alone in 2nd place after a huge weekend, beating the previously undefeated Immortals as well as C9. This team is on an upward trend and will be a formidable opponent at the tournament…if they can get through SKT first.
European League Championship Series:
Origen received numerous accolades during their debut in the European LCS. 2nd place the Summer Split, semi-finalists at the World Championship. The addition of PowerofEvil to the team made this squad even more intimidating but they have struggled during the spring split to turn their potential into wins. Although, in the past Origen players have been known to step up in international tournaments and make some major upsets. This will be an interesting dynamic to keep in mind during their early stages of the tournament.
Hearing the name SKT is enough to strike fear into any opponent. To play against Faker and the entire team is a beast in itself and most Western teams have failed to take them down before. It was only a year ago that Fnatic beat them at the Mid-Season Invitation, the first time a Western team had won a game against the previous World Champions. The front runners at the Season 5 World Championship, SKT easily took the tournament and the grand prize. Fast forward about half a year and SKT is struggling in the LCK, tied for 5th place overall. We’ll wait and see if this translates to a disadvantage in this international tournament. They still have solid players in their lanes and Korean always challenges the teams from other regions so we’re predicting a close match between them and CLG.
One team really looking to prove themselves at this tournament is ESC Ever, a challenger team from South Korea. Don’t let that title fool you, this team is definitely not one to just write off. After failing to qualify for the LCK during the Spring Promotion they readjusted their lineup and starting winning tournaments. Not just any tournament, the 2015 LoL KeSPA Cup where they faced opponents like Samsung Galaxy, Rebels Anarchy, SKT, and CJ Entus in the finals. After that they took on IEM Cologne and took first place against the Qiao Gu Raepers. They’ll go up against TSM in Group A and hope to take not only those matches but the entire tournament.
China’s League of Legends Pro League
Could it be the revenge of China? LPL teams struggled to adapt to the meta and had a weak showing at the Season 5 World Championship, a huge surprise for this powerhouse region. Don’t expect the same scenario in 2016 though, especially from the Qiao Gu Reapers are out for international blood and they look intimidating. After entering the LPL in the 2015 Summer Split they took second place in their debut season. This season, their track record looks even more daunting, they sit in first place in Group A and have only dropped one game this season. The Reapers will be Fnatic’s first opponent in the tournament and a tough one at that.
What’s scarier than one first place Chinese team? Two first place Chinese teams. The LPL’s second IEM representative is Royal Never Give Up, the first place team in Group B of the LPL. This team is filled with names fans will recognize such as Mata, Looper, and InSec so teams should be weary going up against them. Origen will be their first opponent in the tournament and from a records standpoint it looks as if this head-to-head will go RNG’s way.
Fnatic is placed in Group B with SKT T1, CLG, and QG Reapers and will be taking on QG in the first round.
To be honest, these matches are going to be difficult. QG is one of the strongest teams in China, a historically good region at that. They’re known for their aggression and confidence when executing plays so the boys are going to have to keep clear heads. One strategy could be anticipating plays and taking small objective advantages that add up to a lead. We have to play this one extremely safe though to avoid letting QG’s aggression snowball them to victory.
Our featured matchup this game is going to be between mid-laners Febiven and DoinB. The two joined their teams as rookie players and have made huge impacts during their tenure. Febiven has been known to make clutch plays in the past that either win Fnatic the game or turn the tides for the team. We’re looking to him to keep DoinB down in lane and take the advantage. Plus, we’re just hoping to see some flashy plays from these two powerhouse players.