Steven R. February 8, 2019
The IEM XIII Katowice Major is almost here and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fans now know which games they can look forward to.
The eight Challengers Stage matches that will kick off the event were revealed by IEM on the event’s official website, alongside the initial seedings for each team. The pairings are the beginning of a Swiss group stage system that will determine which eight teams advance to the Legends Stage.
Though the list of Challengers Stage teams include a number of underdogs some former elites and past major winners also find themselves on the longest road to the main event.
Among that lot is Cloud9. Despite winning the ELEAGUE Boston Major just one year ago, the team is still reeling from that tournament’s aftermath, which included the departures of Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham. The latest Cloud9 roster has shown some signs of life in recent events but needs to make quick work of Grayhound Gaming if wants to start gaining momentum in 2019.
Fnatic finds itself in a similar position. The Swedish squad enjoyed a serious upswing at the start of 2018, but soon found itself in a tailspin that eventually lead to the departure of Robin "flusha" Ronnquist. Strong showings at iBUYPOWER Masters IV and PLG Grand Slam hint that the team may have turned a corner, but it can only confirm this by starting its run with a win over Vici Gaming.
While C9 and Fnatic need to perform well to maintain positioning, ENCE and NRG Esports are two major newcomers looking to earn respect. Both teams enjoyed breakout seasons in 2018. This will be the first major for each, and they will be looking to start this new era with wins over Team Spirit and Winstrike Team, respectively.
The Swiss system will see each side play up to five matches, with teams reaching three wins advancing and teams hitting three losses being eliminated. Matchups from the second round on will be determined by IEM’s “live seeding” system, which will see teams’ ranking shift depending on results.
The Katowice Major begins February 13 with Renegades vs. Avangar and Fnatic vs. Vici Gaming.