Catch up on IEM Katowice 2017

IEM Katowice played host to three major tournaments this past weekend: the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and StarCraft 2 IEM Season XI World Championships, as well as the Heroes of the Storm Western Clash. Here’s how they went down.

StarCraft 2

Unfortunately for many Polish fans who wanted to see victory on home turf, the group stages whittled away most of the non-Korean players. One of the dark horses people wanted to see do well, Kazakhstani player PiLiPiLi, at least made waves by taking a series against Nerchio. Otherwise, though, the favourites of aLive, ByuN, Dark and others did exactly as expected: phenomenally well.

Photo credit: ESL/Maciej Kolek

Photo credit: ESL/Maciej Kolek

As with just about any StarCraft 2 tournament, though, there were some big upsets as things went on. Fan darling ByuN got knocked out by Stats in the quarter finals, resulting in an emotional reaction from both him and his many fans. Similarly, aLive, after going undefeated in the group stages, lost to INnoVation after a full best of five series.

The finals came to Stats—the current #1 ranked player in the WCS—and TY, a player who only won his first major tournament very late last year.
Stats took the first game, showing off map awareness that TY couldn’t compete with, but TY returned the favour in game two. Both players fought to turn games against their opponent, going back and forth to trade wins until they reached the final game in the best of seven series, tied at 3-3.

Throughout the series Stats had used early Robotics Facilities to gain map control with observers, forcing TY to spend resources on removing that. In game seven, TY countered that strategy with a tactic he hadn’t used before in the series. With this, he had successful early aggression, and managed to translate that into a victory, gaining first place at the StarCraft 2 IEM Season XI World Championships.

Photo credit: ESL/Patrick Strack

Photo credit: ESL/Patrick Strack

TY has taken home a seed at the WCS Global Finals for this year, a not-too-shabby $100,000, plus 3000 points to count towards his standing in the WCS this year. Being TY’s second major victory in 2017 so far, it’s a good sign for his future in StarCraft 2, and he’ll be one to watch at the next major tournament. Now, Stats and TY are fighting for first place in the WCS standings.
Stats, though, will be looking to further prove himself in the 2017 Global StarCraft 2 League as he plays Ryung on March 18th. Despite losing out at IEM Katowice, he’s still ranked #1 in the WCS.

Heroes of the Storm

The Western Clash is a new Heroes of the Storm tournament for 2017, pitting EU and NA teams, plus one from the Oceanic region and one from the Latin American region, against each other. This was also the first major tournament for this year in Heroes of the Storm, and so presented an opportunity for North American teams to prove themselves after a poor performance at Blizzcon last year, with smaller regions also getting a shot at showing off their potential.
Nomia managed to cause a slight upset towards the start, being Australia and New Zealand’s representative who were expected to perform poorly. They managed to win one game in a best of three against Misfits, the team almost everybody expected to win. Both of the teams from smaller regions got knocked down to the loser’s bracket in the first day, though, getting knocked out in elimination games against Team 8 and Gale Force eSports.

On day two, Team Dignitas had a major issue: Snitch, one of their players, fell ill during a best of five series against Misfits, who swept Team Dignitas 3-0. Alongside Tempo Storm, who lost to Fnatic, they were pushed down to the loser’s bracket. Team 8 knocked Tempo Storm out of the competition, and were the last remaining North American team entering the final day, with Team Dignitas managing to stick in the competition by beating Gale Force eSports, as Snitch recovered.

On the final day, Fnatic took the first series, securing a finals position by beating out Misfits. Team Dignitas, though, faced the challenge of 3 best of five series in a row if they wanted to come out on top. They decisively beat Team 8—not one North American team managed to beat a European team—and faced Misfits. In the first two games, Team Dignitas lost, but they reverse swept the tournament favourite, coming out on top 3-2 and securing the second place in the finals.
Here, Team Dignitas—and especially their Warrior player JayPL—played a trump card, Stitches. A hero not heavily played since Blizzcon 2016, Stitches was the key to two victories against Fnatic.

Photo credit: ESL/Maciej Kolek

Photo credit: ESL/Maciej Kolek

This was eventually countered in game three, however, and Fnatic continued playing well until game five, where the teams were tied up in the series 2-2. With superior objective and map control, though, Team Dignitas came out on top, securing $30,000 and the glory of coming first among all European, North American, and relevant minor region teams. With a poor performance from North America, the Mid-Season Brawl at Dreamhack Summer will offer the next opportunity for them to prove something.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

In the group phase, group A came out with three teams tied at 4-1, FaZe Clan, Astralis, and Immortals only separated by tiebreaker games, while group B was the same with teams tied at 3-2 for the first three qualifying spots.

The story of the tournament really was FaZe Clan and Astralis, however. In group A, Astralis came out on top in their game, but FaZe Clan managed to win the tiebreaker they were forced to play. This all led up to the finals, though, as both FaZe Clan and Astralis qualified for the best of five series that would play out on the Sunday evening.

FaZe Clan managed to take the first game of the series, but Astralis were not put off: in the next three games, Astralis swept, coming out first at the tournament. With that, they take home $100,000.

In May, the next IEM Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament will take place in Sydney, Australia. SK Gaming and Renegades are currently the only teams invited, but more invited teams and qualifiers will be announced soon.