The direct invitations to IEM Katowice 2020 have been sent out, fleshing out much of the competitive field for the event.
10 teams have been penned into a spot at the tournament. There are few surprises to be had, as the invitees to IEM Katowice likely stand as the top-10 ranking for most Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pundits:
Three of those teams earned a spot in the tournament by winning other events attached to the ESL Pro Tour. Fnatic’s invitation came as a result of winning DreamHack Masters Malmo, Astralis took its spot by winning IEM Beijing 2019, and mousesports was further rewarded for winning ESL Pro League Season 10.
The other seven teams were given invitations by ESL based on other unspecified metrics. For the most part, the invitations make sense. Most of the teams have won various larger tournaments over the last six months or have placed well in events attached to the ESL Pro Tour.
While there is some debate to be had regarding which teams were invited, the two biggest surprises attached to the event are Virtus.pro and Ninjas in Pyjamas
Virtus.pro posted a breakout performance in the summer under the Avangar umbrella by taking second place at the StarLadder Berlin Major and following that up with a win at BLAST Pro Series Moscow. But they’ve stumbled badly at other large events in the months since, which makes it hard to pin down whether they happened to get hot at the right time or if they were rocked by their brutal schedule, a schedule that many other top teams also had to endure.
The biggest snub is FaZe Clan. The team placed top four at IEM Beijing 2019 and won BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen. Beyond FaZe, cases can also be made for ENCE and ForZe being deserving of a spot in the event.
Teams that weren’t given a direct invitation to IEM Katowice 2020 can still earn a spot through the regional qualifiers. There will be four sets of qualifiers, with Europe receiving three spots, while the Americas, Oceania, and Asia compete for one each.
The European qualifiers should be competitive, with a lineup of teams that includes FaZe, ENCE, G2 Esports, Heroic, and more. As noted, some of these teams were arguably snubbed for receiving an invitation, which should make for an exciting affair.
While the EU qualifiers are competitive, the North American qualifiers should be a bloodbath. A slew of solid teams including MiBR, Furia Esports, Complexity Gaming, and the new Cloud9 will be facing off for just one spot. This will undoubtedly leave some worthy competitors at home in February.
Oceania will likely see Renegades get the better of a standard roundup of other Australian squads, while Asia will see the usual staples such as TYLOO and Vici Gaming looking to punch a ticket into the event.
The IEM Katowice 2020 qualifiers for Asia and North America begin on January 7, while the European qualifiers kick off on January 9. Things wrap up with the Oceania qualifiers, which start on January 14.
IEM Katowice is scheduled to take place from February 25 to March 1.