CS:GO’s ESL One Katowice last weekend drew more than a million viewers at its peak, a record viewership for any version of professional Counter-Strike. If you hold that number up against the number of people who gathered around League of Legends late last year (11 million concurrently) it looks slim, but it’s a significant milestone for the FPS genre, which has struggled for decades to pull a large audience around its various competitive scenes.
Granted, the fact that spectators could earn rare editions of CS:GO weapon skins by watching might’ve had something to do with Katowice’s popularity. I’d rather credit that excitement to its matches, the majority of which were excellent through the four-day event. Coming into Saturday, the semifinals were stacked: Polish home team Virtus Pro was matched against Fnatic, who’s considered the most-skilled team in the world. On the other side of the bracket, Dreamhack Winter 2014 champs (as Team LDLC) Team EnVyUs faced off with Swedish stalwarts NiP.
I recommend jumping into the “Watch” panel in CS:GO to watch some of the final matches in-client, but if you're short on time, here are some of my favorite clips from the event.
Katowice's early rounds included more than a few blowouts, but this video collects some of the best moments from early play
GeT_RiGhT pulls an insane 4K on de_dust2
Neo and Pasha make a memorable moving boost on Cobblestone
Device patiently lines up two NiP in banana on Inferno
Good breakdown of Pronax’s strategy in some key rounds against NiP and VP
Friberg pulls a crazy double-kill on a single AK spray on the final map of the Katowice finals to keep NiP in it
Another great breakdown of Cloud9’s T-side pistol round execution against TSM on Nuke
MojoOnPC pulls in teams' in-game voice chat to share some of the funny moments from the competition, including team kills