Review of IEM Katowice 2021

General information

The tournament Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2021 was happening from 16 till 28 February. The prize pool of the championship consisted of $1,000,000, and the main monetary award was $400,000. It was taken by the winners of the event Gambit Esports who defeated Virtus.pro at the final with the result of 3-1. The vice champions got a more humble award of $180,000.

The Swedes were not the same

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If you have been keeping track of CS:GO for a long time, you definitely remember how powerful the Swedish Counter-Strike used to be. GeT_RiGhT, f0rest, JW, olofmeister and other players of the Scandinavian origin used to fill their opponents with a sense of fear. Now everything has changed, and Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2021 made it clear that we would not see representatives of the Swedish CS:GO in their best for a long time.

Ninjas in Pyjamas managed to show good gaming and made it to the group stage and took 13th-16th place in the tournament bracket getting $10,000 for their hard work. Meanwhile, Fnatic did not show anything interesting.

As a reminder, NiP beat Complexity Gaming 16-7 in the Play-In stage and later defeated the vice champions Virtus.pro with the score of 2-0. Even though the Swedish players put in efforts in the second battle , however, we cannot call this meeting extremely difficult for the participants. In the group stage, Ninjas in Pyjamas got less lucky. At first, they faced the Brazilian force FURIA Esports and could not beat them on any map, so the players dropped down to the lower bracket. There Ninjas in Pyjamas had to fight with the enraged VP. The latter managed to win the rematch from their Swedish opponents and proceeded to the playoff and the grand final. As a result, NiP took the 13th-16th position in the tournament bracket and earned $10,000.

Fnatic did not waste their resources so they showed a pretty fast performance. It was fast not because they beat their opponents swiftly but due to the fact that they left the tournament pretty soon without entering the Play-In stage. In the first battle they fought with OG who had not a very stable situation in the team. Nevertheless, Fnatic lost a battle to the European with the score of 9-16. In the lower bracket the Swedish gamers were unable to win any map from MIBR and became one of the first teams to leave the championship. The 21st-24th place brought the team $2,500.

Mediocre mediocrity

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This is how we could characterize something that was happening at the beginning of championship. Apart from Fnatic and Complexity Gaming, Play-In hosted meetings between all teams that we expected to be placed on the 17th-20th positions. You are not a descendent of Nostradamus and you are not inclined to making predictions? Not a big deal, as, despite this, you must have been expecting to see the bottom of the tournament made up by Movistar Riders, Team One, Wisla Krakow, Cloud9 and Renegades, and you cannot go wrong!

The mentioned Movistar Riders, Team One and Wisla Krakow as well as Fnatic were the first to leave the championship. Their result was 21st-24th place in the tournament bracket and the reward was $2,500. Cloud9, Renegades, Complexity Gaming and MIBR performed a bit better. These four contestant managed to advance to the second round of the lower bracket in Play-In, however, they were unable to make it to the group stage. Those teams took 17th-20th places in the bracket and got more significant rewards of $4,500.

Might have been better

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This category consists the contestants that managed to get to the group stage but who were unable to make it to the decisive meeting where the main prize was a slot in the playoff. The first rounds of the lower bracket brought failures for such teams like mousesports, BIG, OG, and NiP. The teams got placed on 13th-16th place in the tournament bracket and got $10,000 each. By the way, OG seems to have found the root of the problem as they have decided to continue their way without NBK. And what if it is really about him? We’ll find out soon!

Heroic, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan and Team Vitality managed to stand one round longer, however, they also did not make it to the final of the lower bracket in the group stage. It brought them $16,000 and the 9th-12th place in the tournament bracket but the result could not be called satisfactory.

France not stonks

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The outstanding position in Top-12 was taken by the players from Vitality. Audience is used to the situation where the modern CS:GO stage was ruled by Astralis, NAVI and of course Vitality together with their star ZywOo. And if the fans of the French team invented a fan chant “ZyWho? ZywOo!”, here “ZyWhere?” would be more appropriate. And it is not surprising as at the beginning of the competition almost everybody expected to see Vitality at least in the playoff, perhaps in the semifinals with the grand final. As a result, the French players did not make it to the final stage and turned out where? At the 9th-12th place in the tournament bracket.

As a reminder, recently the captain of the team Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire got exigent circumstances that made his leave the club for a short time, however, he quickly got back to his duties. Maybe it impacted the level of the team’s readiness for the championship?

CIS flashback

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Do you remember the meme about Vietnamese flashbacks which is about extremely difficult remembrance that make you feel unpleasant when you mentally return to a specific event? So all the teams that took part in Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2021 now may get a serious fear of teams from the CIS region. The Russian speaking fighters were not afraid of anyone and destroyed everyone on their way to the victory. The championship was a real battlefield where the CIS teams defeated European players as well as the gamers from their own region. It is an interesting fact that all four CIS rosters that participated in the tournament made it to the playoff. It concerns NAVI that got invited to the group stage along with Virtus.pro, Gambit Esports and Team Spirit who were forced to start with Play-In. As a reminder, only six contestants advanced to the playoff and four them are CIS. Impressive? Sure!

But they did not limit themselves with the playoff itself. After the group stage a great deal of the spectators agreed that as a championship with the prize pool of $1,000,000 with CIS teams participating in the grand final is a rarity. The quarterfinal meetings proved that it was rare indeed and surprised hundreds of viewers. There Gambit Esports defeated Natus Vincere without any lost map. The CIS bears from Virtus.pro used their secret strategy “left shows, right punishes” in a battle with Astralis.

Astralis did not become the only victim that was destroyed by the CIS rosters. After showing masterclass at the group stage, Team Liquid was unable to defeat Virtus.pro who sent the Danish players to the spectator area to watch the tournament.

NAVI did not meet expectations

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NAVI is a team that has one of the widest fanbases in the whole esports industry. “Natus Vincere” is “Born to Win” in Latin, however, then the team was unable to correspond their name with their results. NAVI got an invitation to the group stage where they showed a good performance. At first, they beat their countrymen from Virtus.pro with 2-0, and then they easily defeated FURIA Esports 2-0, and the last battle resulted in no won map from Team Liquid in the last battle.

Despite this, fans of s1mple and his team were happy for their favourites as Natus Vincere was still one of the main contenders for victory. On their way to the grand final, they just had to beat Gambit Esports and Team Spirit who did not perform as well as NAVI in most cases. It is simple in theory but the hypothetical facts make up theory, so practice shows that there may be pitfalls that turn into sharp rocks for a ship called Natus Vincere. This time that pitfall was Gambit Esports that did not give NAVI a chance to win at least one map.

We should say that the poll of played maps in the quarterfinals could not be understood even by Daniil ‘Zeus’ Teslenko who had played together with s1mple in Natus Vincere. Overpass is objectively far from NAVI’s best map, we can say the same about Train. The gamers from Gambit made a smart move when they removed Nuke at the map veto stage as this map has already become NAV’s signature. After that Hobbit and his teammates picked Overpass which was also a well-thought-out decision. Natus Vincere opted for Train instead of Mirage or Inferno for no obvious reason keeping Dust 2 for the end. “Born to Won” played well on Dust 2, however, they did not make it there because of Overpass and Train. As a result, NAVI took 5th-6th place at the championship and got a reward of $40,000. They shared their position with the players from Astralis.

Virtus.pro: destroyers of foreign teams

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VP have deserved the title of Destroyer of Foreign Teams. They twice played with CIS teams but neither of the battles was successful for the team. However, each of the played matches against foreign opponents apart from the meeting with NiP in Play-In were victorious. In the Play-In, VP beat Wisla Krakow and Renegades. At the group stage, the team managed to defeat NAVI but Bears won a rematch from NiP and later they pointed at the exit to such contestants like Team Vitality and FURIA Esports. Having proceeded to the playoffs, VP did not stop at what they had achieved and continued to devour their opponents. When Astralis won one map while fighting with VP, Liquid took the role of wheat that fell down in front of the harvesters from Virtus.pro. They lost 0-2.

It was extremely interesting to watch the performance of the CIS beat at the championship. Additionally, it was rather tense. We are almost sure that pharmaceutical companies can be grateful to fans of Virtus.pro for the good money that they made last week as those must have bought lots of sedatives to watch the matches of their favourites in peace. The team must have been against playing in the upper bracket and preferred matches in the lower bracket in both Play-In and group instead. The team always started with a failure but then they worked their way to defeat all their opponents in the lower bracket. As we can see, this approach was successful if we consider not only their victory but also their participation in the grand final of a tournament with the prize pool of $1,000,000. To become the vice champion of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2021 is a very good result and the monetary reward with $180,000 must cheer up the players that lost in the final.

Kinslayers from Gambit

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If Virtus.pro specialized on killing foreign opponents, Gambit Esports have deserved the status of kinslayers at the championship. In the playoff, Dmitry ‘sh1ro’ Sokolov and his teammates managed to outplay NAVI at the quarterfinals and Team Spirit at the semifinals. In both cases the team did not lose any map and the victories over Natus Vincere and Team Spirit might be considered worthy results. NAVI is one of the strongest teams in the world and Spirit got into good pace at the championship and even beat Astralis at the decisive match in Group A.

The first map while fighting with Virtus.pro ended up with a failure for Gambit Esports, however, the other three were taken by the team easily. Let us mark the fact that even Vertigo was durable for Gambit as they took 14 rounds there. Dust 2 and Train finished with 16-6 and 16-4. The decisive Overpass ended with 16-12. Perhaps, if VP had advanced to Mirage, the meeting would have gone a bit differently and Virtus.pro would have taken the top but history does not accept amends. Gambit Esports have deserved to become the champions of IEM Katowice 2021 and got the main reward of $400,000.

Results of Intel Extreme Masters 2021