The Katowice Major is down to just four teams and we have Astralis, ENCE, MiBr and Natus Vincere in the top Four. Astralis are the favourites to win the entire Major, they have dominated the CS: GO scene for much fo the past year. They won almost every premier tournament in CS: GO and were even the winners of the Intel Grand Slam Season 1.
However, unlike during FaceIT London Major, Astralis is no longer the clear favourite at this Major. The past few months have seen roster changes and a lot of gameplay changes by some of the top teams. The usage of Aug has increased significantly during this period and it is a change that Astralis will have to adapt.
Any changes to the game do not benefit us at the moment because we are currently the best team in the world. I haven’t put much thought into that, I’m still working under the same conditions as before the AUG meta. I think we are still in the phase where we have to see what happens.
Danny “zonic” Sørensen.
For the Danes, the addition of Aug is not a big change. However, they have not had much competition in the past few months. They have only participated in one tournament before the IEM Katowice Major. They lost the event to Team Liquid in the Grand Finals.
To put their position in context, the Astralis team has not played against any Top five team except Team Liquid in 2019. They lost their match [ The IBP Masters IV Grand Finals] to Team Liquid.
Out of the top five teams, only Na’Vi and Astralis have not made any changes to their roster. We have seen roster changes for Faze Clan, Team Liquid and MiBr in the past few months. Playing against these teams with the new rosters, possibly new strategies and approach to the game will be a novel concept for Astralis. If anything, the Danes are the best five players when it comes to adapting to the opponent. However, for such an important tournament, their adaptation will have to be near instantaneous.
This is the single biggest advantage for teams like Na’Vi and MiBr. With Team liquid out of the Major, these teams stand a realistic chance of upsetting Astralis and winning the Major.
The Na’Vi squad has only one aim and that is to win the Major. Do not be fooled by Zeus’ statements which are meant to throw opponents and fans off-guard. Zeus loves to play with fans and in this way and yet his dedication to improving the team and their playstyle is unopposed.
— Monster Gaming (@MonsterGaming) March 1, 2019
The image below shows Na’Vi’s performance in 2019 on LAN matches. As expected, S1mple leads the charts for the CIS Squad. However, it is the margin of his lead over his teammates which is surprising. This was the reason for Na’Vi not being a strong competitor to Astralis. Their gameplay relied excessively on S1mple and Electronic putting up big numbers for the team. It was an unsustainable playstyle for the team, especially against better opponents.
However, things are changing at the IEM Katowice LAN event. We are witnessing an evener distribution of frags for the players. In fact, at IEM Katowice, Egor “flamie” Vasilyev is the player with the highest frags for Natus Vincere.
The fact that Flamie has stepped up to the occasion has definitely helped Na’Vi in their Major run. The team looks much more balanced and has a good chance of reaching the Grand finals and possibly winning the Major. With an even distribution of frags, there is less pressure on the likes of S1mple and Electronic in their matches.
Na’Vi might be peaking at just the right moment to challenge Astralis. If they would win this major, it would be a fitting result for an orgnaisation that has dominated the CSGO scene for years without winning a single Major. It would also be a feather in the cap for Zeus as he would be the person to lead two CIS teams to a Major victory.
The Made in Brazil roster is back to one of its old iterations. The fully Brazilian team will see Wilton “Zews” Prado back in the role as the team’s coach. His addition to the team definitely adds a perspective to the team as they compete at the Major. The previous lineup did have communication issues and they came forward at the very end. With this team speaking a common language, we can expect a smoother playstyle, one that will aid the team’s aggressive gameplay.
This is the first event for the team in 2019. They have not yet faced a Top five team at the Major, so we have to take their results with a grain of salt. However, Coldzera is leading the charts when it comes to MiBr by a margin. If he regains some of his past performance, we can expect Mibr to breeze into the next stage with confidence. Unfortunately for the Brazilian squad, they don’t have any room for error. They will play Astralis in the semifinals of the IEM Katowice Major. This is their toughest opponent of 2019 and also their first Top 5 competitor at the Major.
It will require some classic Fallen aggression as well as unique MiBr strategies for the team to topple Astralis. They do have an advantage coming into this match as Astralis have little to no information about the new MiBr’s playstyle. Wilton “zews” Prado does have the advantage of going up against Zonic at a strategic level. However, individual players will still need to step up to the level of Danish professionals.
IEM Katowice Semifinals continues on the 2nd of March. All the matches will be streamed live on Twitch.