IEM Katowice 2022: The contenders for the title
Who will come out on top?
The playoff of IEM Katowice 2022 starts tomorrow, and six teams will battle for the championship of one of the most prestigious events of the year.
Heroic should be mentioned first. The team surprised the fans on the group stage. During their performance in the group, the Danish team have lost only one map. This map was lost to OG in the opening round of the group, and this game wasn’t catastrophic for Heroic as they were competitive, losing the map with the closest score positive - 16-14. At the moment, Heroic are the main contenders for the title. However, the Danish team often have problems in the important stages. The last significant event Heroic won was ESL Pro League Season 13.
The second team, starting the playoff of IEM Katowice from the semifinal, are Natus Vincere. However, the CIS team didn’t show confident performance in the group stage, nearly losing two out of three matches. The biggest surprise for the community was the match against ENCE. The Finnish team didn’t look like a worthy opponent for the CIS team, but they gave problems to NaVi, destroying them on Nuke and nearly winning the decider. Another controversial standoff was the group final. NaVi faced FaZe, and all the maps were tight, but the last game was the most thrilling. NaVi came back from 10-15 and won the decider in overtime with a score of 22-19. Degradation in the form of the CIS team is noticeable. However, NaVi are known for their outstanding performance in the playoffs of the big events, and it might be the case at IEM Katowice.
Virtus.pro showed an unexpectedly high level of performance at the start of the group stage. However, they collapsed in the group final. The CIS team eased past Copenhagen Flames, overcame NIP, but were destroyed by Heroic 2-0. At first, Virtus.pro looked like one of the main contenders for the title, but they tarnished these hopes in the group final. Although, the CIS team might have lost their focus due to taking the spot in the playoff and didn’t show their best performance in the last standoff of the group stage.
Virtus.pro will face G2 in the opening match of the playoff. G2 look like a squad of unstoppable rockstars who have one of the highest level of individual performance and the Finnish mastermind in their lead. However, they lost their first match in group B to fnatic, and it was a surprise for the fans as fnatic didn’t manage to qualify for the playoff. Although, after that failure, G2 didn’t flinch and entered the quarterfinal through the lower bracket. The most demonstrative standoff was a match against Astralis in the lower bracket final. European mix lost the first map but didn’t give any chance to their opponents in the last two games, finishing them 16-5 and 16-1, respectively. G2 disappointed the viewers in their opening match but regained the status of one of the main contenders for the title in the lower bracket of group B.
The other part of the playoff bracket features another CIS team. Gambit fought for the spot in the playoff from the first round of the lower bracket. Current champions of IEM Katowice 2022 lost to NIP in the opening round of group A but returned to the game in the single-elimination matches. Gambit demonstrated the regaining of their form, taking revenge on NIP in the lower final, winning the match 2-0. However, the current champions didn’t look like real contenders, but they might boost their form before entering the playoff of IEM Katowice and successfully defend their title.
Gambit will meet FaZe in the opening round of the playoff. FaZe were looking forward to taking part in the big event with their new roster. However, the problems started to appear even before the tournament. Robin "ropz" Kool reported that he was tested positive for COVID-19 and wouldn’t take part in the early stages of IEM Katowice 2022. He returned to the team just before the upper semifinal of group B against fnatic. However, alongside good news, the bad news came. Håvard "rain" Nygaard was tested positive for COVID-19 and finished the group stage in the isolation. There is still no information if he will take part in the playoff. Talking about performance, FaZe did a good job, despite outside problems. However, they didn’t manage to overcome NaVi in the group final, losing the decider from 10-15. Their performance in the playoff will depend on rain's appearance, and the information on that will be available tomorrow.