IEM Katowice 2021 kicked off with the play-in stage, where 16 teams fought for the last eight spots in the event.
IEM Katowice 2021 will be the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event of 2021 to this point, with 16 of the best teams in the world competing for their part of a $972,000 prize pool and one of the most prestigious championships in esports. Unlike most other tournaments, IEM Katowice 2021 has a play-in stage to give new and fringe-level teams the opportunity to compete on a grand stage. Eight teams were already qualified directly for the main event, leaving eight spots open for the play-in teams to fight for. Here’s how it went in the IEM Katowice 2021 play-in stage.
That was it for the play-in stage! We have seen some incredible CS and some insane comebacks today 😳
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) February 17, 2021
The IEM Katowice play-in stage started out great for the CIS region, as both Gambit Esports and Team Spirit cruised their way through the upper bracket. It only took the teams two matches each to secure a spot in the main event. Both teams have performed great for a while in different online tournaments, but they weren’t exactly fan favorites to take two of the first spots to the main event.
For Gambit, the play-in started out with a quick best-of-one win against Team One. The Brazilian squad was one of the easier opponents in the play-ins and Gambit took complete advantage of that. In dominating fashion, Gambit won with a 16-5 scoreline on Train. Gambit got to start on the CT side, which resulted in a big streak of rounds. With a solid defense, Gambit took 12 rounds in the first half and didn’t take long to close it out on the T side.
After beating Team One, Gambit was up against mousesports in a best-of-three for a direct spot in the main event. The newly updated mousesports squad with Christopher “dexter” Nong managed to take Dust 2, but then Gambit turned up the pace. With fairly decisive wins on both Inferno and Vertigo, Gambit secured the berth and sent mousesports to the lower bracket. mousesports would, later on, beat Complexity and get a spot as well.
Just like Gambit, it only took Spirit two games to secure a spot at the main event. Spirit started out against Cloud9, who didn’t show up as expected. This was punished by Spirit in a quick 16-7 win on Inferno. Spirit continued the momentum against BIG, where the team pulled off an unexpected 2-0 victory by winning Overpass and Mirage.
While the CIS region impressed with two quick qualifications, two big names didn’t make it through. Both Fnatic and Complexity failed to qualify for the main event, despite both being highly regarded teams.
Fnatic had the worse performance of the two, getting knocked out without a single win. Starting out with a loss to OG in the opening match, Fnatic couldn’t find any sort of momentum against MiBR in the do-or-die match. This resulted in a disappointing 0-2 loss, which leaves the Swedes out in the cold.
Complexity had a better run but fell short in its elimination match against mousesports. The winner would move on to the main event, while the loser was sent packing. Unfortunately for Complexity, the star-packed roster fell short on the third map and let a strong lead slip away.
With 16 teams participating at the main event, there will be a lot to keep an eye on during the tournament. Eight teams qualified directly to the main event during the “Road to Katowice” qualifiers back in 2020, and they have been booked against opponents from the play-in stage. The opening matches for the group stage are as follows:
Group A matches
Group B matches
The IEM Katowice 2021 main event will start on February 18 and run until February 28 where the final will be played. Prior to the main event, the IEM Katowice 2021 play-in stage was played over two days from February 16 to 17.