The Introductory Guide to IEM Katowice 2019 Pick’em Challenge First Stage

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Once again, as the next CS:GO Majors gets close to its start, Valve reintroduced the Pick’em Challenge. This time, we have a couple of changes on how to join in and a bunch of new teams to pick. Worry not – everything will be explained here.

What is the Pick’em Challenge?


If you’re new to CSGO, the Pick’em Challenge is a mini-game linked to the Major itself. Here, fans pick teams which they think that will be advancing until the grand-finals. Before, the prize was a Pick’em medal that you could display in your profile.

This time around though, there’s more to it. Due to Valve changes in how the Pick’em is made, players also are playing for a Souvenir Skin.

This is right, instead of having to watch games and counting on sheer luck to get an exclusive item drop, now you are guaranteed to get those with the Viewer Pass. Buying the Viewer Pass for $10 (or your regional equivalent) warrants you a ‘bronze coin’.

Afterwards, you will upgrade your coin by making the right Pick’em choices and watching matches. You automatically get an exclusive souvenir skin once you gather enough points. There’s a total of 4 levels including bronze, so you can get up to 3 skin drops.

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How do I play the Pick’em Challenge?

Instead of buying individual stickers like in the past Majors, now you can only join the Pick’em Challenge by activating a Viewer Pass in your CSGO account.

However, this time around you won’t be required to buy any stickers at all! Once you activate the Viewer Pass, you can make your choices right off the bat.

Also, you also get an infinite graffiti to use in-game and a flair to show off your love for your favorite team in Steam.TV. You can get a Viewer Pass in-game or in the Steam Market, and once purchased they can be activated immediately.

So, how does the Pick’em works?

Just like the Major, the Pick’em Challenge is divided in three different phases. Here’s a brief rundown of how it plays:

  • For the first and second phase of the mini-game, you will be picking a total of nine teams:
  • One team which you do believe that will advance through the Challengers stage with a perfect score (3 – 0). One that will be eliminated without a single victory. Seven others that will advance with either 3 – 0, 3 – 1 or 3 – 2 scores.
  • In the third and final phase, you will pick the full semi-final and grand-finals placing. This mean that one wrong pick can make the so desired ‘Diamond Coin’ impossible.

Some observations that are of importance here. The Major format still follows the Swiss system rules. However, every elimination and qualification match will be a BO3. Teams that heavily relied on the BO1 format to pull upsets will have a much harder time around.

Also, let’s take a look at the opening matches:

Time to pick: our 3 – 0 winners

There’re three clear favorites to make through this initial stage of the Major. ENCE, Vitality and NRG are all teams capable of making a clear sweep and they can be picked here.

However, more veteran players know very well that sometimes, it’s better to pick an underdog team in the 3 – 0 category. Why is that, you may ask?

It’s clear that all three aforementioned teams will make through this stage one way or another and you aren’t awarded more points by making a correct 3 – 0 pick.

Picking them amongst the seven teams that will advance by any form means that you’re guaranteed 3 of the 5 required correct picks to get a coin upgrade. For the 3 – 0 winner, we will be picking FURIA. FNATIC could also be a good pick for this category.

Which team will be eliminated without a single win?

This time around, we have two favored teams to make to the 0 – 3 pick. Both Grayhound and Vici are the weakest teams in the competition and we don’t see them booking a win here.

Still, we have to remember that ViCi Gaming reached the Major after beating North in the Major 3rd place play-in, after being eliminated from their regional Minor, where they lost even to Grayhound.

We will be going with ViCi as if it comes to it, we do believe that Grayhound has an upper hand over them.

The Seven Remaining Picks

Now, with four points guaranteed, there’s only need to one more correct pick and you should be eligible for a coin upgrade.

Let’s make sure to get the best picks here:

  • Vitality: as said above, Vitality is one of the favorite teams to make through this stage. After the Minor, we saw apEX slowly returning to his old form and along with the young superstar ZywOo, there shouldn’t be no stopping point for this team.
  • NRG: one of the ten best teams in the world finally qualified for the Major. To make things look good for NRG, their first match will be against Winstrike, who only qualified in the Major 3rd place play-in.
  • ENCE: winners of the Europe Minor, ENCE has been showing a great playstyle and balance between firepower and tactics lately. Their first match will be against Spirit, which shouldn’t be a challenge at all.
  • FNATIC: the Swedes haven’t been to brightly later so we expect them to scrap a 3 – 2 record. Still, JW, KrimZ and Brollan are making for a great trio and Xizt just need to place the right pieces in the right position.
  • Cloud9: there’s a lot unknown about this Cloud9 roster with Zellsis. Still, even with ‘flusha’ taking the in-game leader role out of ‘Golden’ who is benched due to medical complications, they have already shown some promise.
  • NiP: the Ninjas are back for another Major and just like last time they should make a decent showing there. We do expect them to make with a 3 – 1 record and out of a possible encounter against the three favorites, they shouldn’t have issues.
  • G2: the second-best French team had a mix of results lately but they are much better than what they did for mostly of 2018. While they should have problems depending on the drawing they get, we expect them to make through here.

Concluding Thoughts

This time around, it’s much easier to get a golden coin. After all, Valve ditched the point system in favor of a concrete number of correct picks you have to get. Still, getting the diamond coin is a challenge and if you want it, it’s better to stay tuned.

The Major will be starting this week, so make sure to make your picks at least a few hours before the first game. After all, once the first match starts, the Pick’em Challenge will be locked.

Also, make sure to follow us as every Pick’em stage will be covered with the best picks. Last time we managed to grab the rarest coin of the bunch, and we’ll be looking to the same this time around.


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