The biggest tournament of 2021 so far has reached its climax. IEM Katowice 2021 finished its group stage this past weekend. Now, the tournament heads to the playoffs, with the six best teams of the competition fighting for the trophy.
Which teams are we talking about? What are their backgrounds coming to the next stage of IEM Katowice? Let’s take a quick dive and review the competitors below.
Team Liquid has been gone through a journey since the pandemic started last year. The team which fought for the crown of best team in the world once wasn’t there anymore.
After dropping through the world rankings, Liquid finished 2020 benching one of their star players. With Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken gone, Liquid’s future didn’t look very bright at the time.
Yet, Liquid managed a stellar campaign so far in Katowice 2021, partly thanks to Twistzz replacement. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, known for his two Major trophies, has been a positive surprise so far for Liquid.
However, it’s important to note that Liquid success doesn’t fall on a single player. The team has been thoroughly great, with EliGE and NAF performing very well of lately. This chemistry is key for their successes.
As for their next match in Katowice, Liquid will face either Astralis or Virtus.Pro. Both teams will make Liquid play to their fullest, but at the same time, they also give Liquid a fair chance at winning. Reaching the trophy is definitely a possibility for Liquid.
Team Spirit is one of the teams that have been part of the Eastern European resurgence in CSGO. After grinding in the lower ranks last year, they’re coming to the 2021 season as one of the must-watch teams.
Spirit success is due to many factors. First, it’s impossible to deny how high is Spirit’s individual players ceilings. Players like “mir”, “magixx” and “chopper” can turn games by themselves, and they seem really synced to each other.
In second place, Spirit’s map pool is surprisingly developed. Besides Vertigo, which is the team permanent map ban, and Overpass, the team performs very well across all maps.
Besides those two factors, there plenty of small characteristics that give Spirit an advantage. For example, things such as their midround unpredictability can hurt almost every team. So, everything considered, their recent success can be easily explained.
However, while it was clear that Spirit was dangerous, no one expected them to perform as well as they did so far in Katowice. Their last match in the group stage saw them dominantly beating Astralis, and everyone is looking to see them going forward.
Currently, Astralis sits as the best team in the world in the HLTV World Rankings. Yet, the Danish squad knows that their place isn’t stable as it once was. For them to absolutely reclaim their place, Katowice will be a key event.
However, Katowice hasn’t been a smooth ride for the Danes. Astralis lost to Spirit and in that specific game, the team got completely overwhelmed by their opponents.
Now, every opponent will be looking at that game in order to try find weaknesses on gla1ve’s game plan. Of course, Astralis will also look back at that game and try to recover from it, but it will take some time to get back the confidence lost then.
Astralis next match in Katowice is set to be against Virtus.Pro. VP is another squad from the Eastern Europe, and they are one of the most dangerous teams around. Astralis can still win, but considering Virtus.Pro’s recent win streak, it won’t be easy.
Like Virtus.Pro and Spirit, Gambitis another team part of the recent CIS region resurgence. Gambit, however, is a very known name in the scene, as the organization has a Major under their belt.
Since that win, Gambit disappeared from the highest-level competition. With this new roster, however, it was just a matter of time until they were back surprising those who underestimate them.
As we saw so far in Katowice, there’s plenty of things going in Gambit’s way. The team star, “sh1ro”, is an incredible player, and thanks to “Hobbit” and “Ax1le”, he is never alone in the top of the scoreboard.
Yet, Gambit is arguably the weakest team in the playoffs. The team tactically-wise leaves much to be desired, for example. The team also needs to play in more high-tier tournaments to build experience for some of their players.
Their first match in Katowice’s playoffs will be against Natus Vincere. Na’Vi currently sits as one of the best teams in the world, and the favorites to win the tournament. Gambit chances are against them, sure, but they can still surprise everyone.
One team that is quickly rising through the ranks is Virtus.Pro. The squad from the CIS region has been a pleasant surprise lately, and they have been giving fans great matches to watch.
In Katowice, Virtus.Pro got beaten once, by Natus Vincere. After failing to the lower-bracket, though, Virtus.Pro demolished their following opponents, including Vitality and FURIA.
Now, they are looking at their quarter-finals match against Astralis. Thanks to Astralis game against Spirit, VP will have much to watch, and possibly exploit once the match starts.
Like Astralis, there won’t be a single easy match for Virtus.Pro, but no team is an impossible task for them. There’s a real chance that we see Jame & co. taking the Katowice trophy home.
Natus Vincere is one of the best teams in the world without a doubt. After winning BLAST Premier Global Finals, Na’Vi now has a real chance to take the spot of best team in the world.
For them to reach that spot, though, Na’Vi will have to prove their capabilities as a team. In their last match, which was against Liquid, Na’Vi shown that the team still is struggling with their fifth. Flam1e is too inconsistent, and the team’s sixth player, B1T, still isn’t ready for a place in the main roster.
To make things a bit more complicated, teams like Liquid are learning ways to stop Na’Vi star, “s1mple”. When s1mple can’t perform as well as his usual, Na’Vi struggles much more than they should. Their dependence on s1mple is very worrisome for Na’Vi.
So, going to the playoffs in Katowice, Na’Vi first challenge is Gambit. If they win, then they will face Spirit. Both of these teams will test Na’Vi in various ways, and one mistake is enough to see s1mple’s team eliminated.
Now that you’re aware of the six teams competing in IEM Katowice 2021 Playoffs, you certainly won’t want to miss the matches that are coming this weekend. In order to get the best out of each one of them, be sure to check our predictions page here!