The IEM Katowice 2019 Preview: The Returning Legends

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There are eight teams waiting for the new Challengers at Katowice. As ESL prepares the stage for the Legends to clash and prove their supremacy, it is important to note the hierarchy at the event so far. The eight Legend teams secured their position in this Major cause of a strong run during FaceIT London Major 2018. They compete for the Legends Stage and attempt to retain their Top Eight position. 

Here are the eight Legend Teams:

  • Astralis
  • Team Liquid
  • Natus Vincere
  • BIG Gaming
  • Faze Clan
  • MiBr
  • Complexity
  • Hellraisers

Astralis

 

Astralis comes into the Major as one of the most dominant CS: GO teams in history. They were the number one team for the past year and they even won the Intel Grand Slam taking home the prize money of $ 1million. However, it has been a long time that Astralis has remained at the top. They are the subject of every team’s counter-strategy and preparation. Over the past few weeks, we have seen multiple roster changes effectively ensuring many teams start on a fresh slate.

With the Katowice Major as the first big event for many of these events, we can be confident that many teams will prepare with Astralis in sight. However, Zonic has always ensured that Astralis puts in the effort required to stay on top. Reaching the top is easy, staying there is the difficult part. So far, Astralis has remained consistent in its performance. They have always been a team that reaches the Top four of premier events. While they do win the majority of these events, there are instances when some teams are able to defeat the Danish Squad.

Glaive is one of the most effective In Game Leader in his strategy as well as on an individual level. It is not surprising to see Glaive act as the secondary AWPer on the team when Device is not feeling up to the mark. His mid-round calls, especially on maps like Nuke stand out for their speed and precision. The Astralis squad is well-polished and has excellent synergy in their playstyle. They have an understanding of how to positions themselves and have confidence in their aim. The Danish squad is the top seed at the event and remain the favourites to win it all.

Team Liquid

 

Team Liquid has emerged as a strong contender to Astralis. They won the IBuyPower Masters IV tournament very recently.

Team Liquid seemed to be the only team that was consistently meeting Astralis deep in tournaments. However, their pervious roster was almost always unable to move past the Danish squad. With the new changes on the team, they now have an all North American roster. The return of Stewie2k to North America definitely fuels excitement in the Liquid fans.

Their playstyle is unique and presents multiple focal points for any opponent. This team has the potential to put North America at the top of the CS: GO scene on a consistent basis. With AdreN as their new head coach, there is a lot of freedom for the players’ input and collaboration in strategies. There is visible energy in the roster as the players believe in their capability to become a much stronger team.

Their showing at the IBuyPower Masters IV saw them defeat Astralis in the Grand finals. It was a momentous occasion for several of the players since they were finally able to overcome Astralis. The series saw Team liquid bounce back after losing the first map 4-16. Team Liquid is North America’s best and only hope at the Katowice Major. If the IBuyPower Tournament was a glimpse of what to expect from the roster, we can only hope for some exciting CounterStrike in the upcoming days.

Team Liquid plays against Avangar in their opening Legends stage match.

Natus Vincere

A lack of motivation on the Na’Vi squad prevents them from being the #1 team in the world.

 

The CIS team is yet to win a CS: GO Major despite having some of the biggest names in the game on their roster. The current version of the team has two of the best players with the rifle on the team. S1mple and Electronic have proven themselves multiple times on the big stage. However, the team still lacks results and that comes from the rest of the squad failing to live up to the same level as these two. After their Grand final appearance at the FaceIT London Major 2018, Na’Vi had a series of poor performances.

These results were mixed with a few beacons of hope. Na’Vi reached the finals of the EPICENTER 2018 followed with a victory at the Blast Pro Series: Copenhagen. However, the team remained very inconsistent often facing elimination early in the Group stages of events.

Zeus feels that securing a Top eight at the major would be a big achievement for the squad. There is a lack of motivation on the roster and there are several strenuous relationship issues on the team. When the In-Game leader himself has doubts of the team’s preparedness for the Major, the team definitely has a problem. However, one can never count out Natus Vincere from the Katowice Major. With players like S1mple and Electronic on the team, they can defeat opponents simply on their firepower.


BIG Gaming

 

Xantares: The latest addition to Berlin International Gaming.

 

 

BIG Gaming changed players on their team as Nex comes back into the active roster. Meanwhile, Smooya will not be on their active lineup, a huge step forward for the team’s playstyle and composition. For a long time, Smooya was the focal point of BIG’s playstyle and strategy. He was the primary AWPer on the team and his performance had a direct relation to BIG Gaming’s results.

The team has added Xantares to their roster and Nex also moves to the active lineup. So far, BIG looks extremely strong with Xantares leading the team when it comes to the scoreboard. However, the strength for BIG Gaming in the past has always been their tactics and unique playstyle. We have Gob B to thank for continuously helping the players and team evolved into a stronger unit.

With Smooya, BIG always looked like a team which had a high skill ceiling but was extremely inconsistent. Their inconsistency was a big issue for the team as they were unable to continuously emerge as a strong team. With Xantares, they have added one of the most stable yet high-impact players from Europe. We hope to see this new roster develop into a strong unit.

Gob B will rely on the strength in Nex and Xantares. While Xantares has maintained a very consistently high performance for several years now, Nex has been in and out. It will be interesting to see how Nex adjusts to being back in the server and with the rest of the team. BIG is a relatively new roster and they will require time to get their act together. They already played in the Eleague CS: GO Invitational where they secured the third place. But the stakes are higher, the competition is tougher and the prize is bigger at Katowice.

Faze Clan

 

Faze Clan recently won the Eleague CSGO Invitational 2019

The Faze Clan team was once called the best team in the world, on paper. Obviously they did not live up to their expectations and in fact, have been struggling for quite some time. The team is led by Niko, one of the best CS: GO Players in the world right now. His vision of how the game should be played is visible on the rest of the squad. With veterans such as Olofmeister, Guardian on the roster, they do not lack experience or the will to move forward. Despite not having the best results, Faze Clan has always tried their best to win their matches.

As we approach Katowice 2019, Ynk will have had enough time with the team. We will be seeing his impact on the International roster. With Karrigan gone, the roles on the team definitely saw a change. They brought on AdreN to the roster, an experienced player who will provide excellent synergy with Guardian. AdreN has proven himself on multiple CIS teams including the PGL Krakow Major winners Gambit Gaming.

However, Faze Clan requires the veterans in the team to show up in a big way. Whenever we see Guardian and Olofmeister performing well, the team shines and provides us with a glimpse of their potential. However, the players have been inconsistent and there is always a doubt of which Faze Clan is present in the server. Faze Clan has played two tournaments in 2019: The IBuyPower Masters IV and the Eleague CS: GO Invitational. While their performance at IBP was nothing to write about, they did win at the Eleague CS: GO Invitational. This event had the likes of BIG Gaming, Cloud9 and Complexity. But can they repeat a similar performance against stronger teams at the Major?

MiBr

 

The Brazilian squad has Zews as their coach, can they become a dominant force once again?

The Mibr team made changes to their roster when they brought in TACO and Zews. The addition of Zews provides a fundamental change to the core roster. The current bunch of players have a lot of experience playing against each other. They will not have any of the communication problems that the team experienced during their previous edition.

This Brazilian squad relies on amazing individual confidence to boost their performance. They take risks and these risks are often rewarded with great results. However, of late, the members like Fallen and Coldzera have adopted a more passive style of play. It does not suit them and it forces the team to play into the pace of the opponent.

With TACO and Zews coming back into the team, we expect a fundamental shift in their playstyle. Hopefully, it is one which will catapult them into a contender for the Major title. On paper, this team has all the ingredients necessary for victory. The team has not played since the Blast Pro Series. It has been nearly two months since we saw them live in action. This is a team that is capable of defeating Astralis with ease and will come into the Major as the unknown entity.

Their first match is against Cloud9 on Wednesday. It should be a very easy matchup for the team since Cloud9 is not really a strong roster. However, as we move further in the tournament and they face off against stronger opponents their synergy and playstyle will be put to test.

Complexity

 

Complexity might be the weakest link amongst all the current Legend teams. The famed organisation which has deep roots in Counter-Strike will return to the big stage for IEM Katowice 2019. They were a big surprise with their performance at FaceIT London Major.

The Complexity team has N0thing as a stand-in for the Major. The veteran North American player has not had an impact on the Tier One scene for quite some time. He is awaiting his turn in the roster shuffle post the Major. Despite being the weakest team on paper, Complexity does have a few good maps. Most notable amongst them is Inferno, a map which single-handedly enabled them to proceed further and further during the last Major. Coming into Katowice, Complexity’s fate still remains tied to the individual performances of players. With multiple players not performing up to their level, Complexity will be hard pressed to move past into the next stage of the Major.

Hellraisers

 

The Hellraisers team remains in a very similar position as they were during FaceIT London Major 2018. The lack of any notable big tournament performances that they are not the ideal choice to move to the next stage. However, the team has potential and we have repeatedly seen it during the “WePlay Lock and Load!” tournament as well as during the IEM Sydney qualifiers. They lost to Vitality in the early part of the year at the WePlay! Lock and Load tournament. It was a Zywoo show all around, but Hellraisers still put up a decent fight. They won their matches against BIG Gaming in the semis and Furia in the quarterfinals.

Their time post the FaceIT major saw disappointing results. They had to make changes which saw Hobbit joining the active roster. It is an opportunity for the player to prove his worth in the CIS region. The team does not have a wide map pool and that could be a big reason for its undoing. In addition to this, they also need their young players such as Woxic and ISSAA to put up big numbers. They have a very high skill-ceiling, however, there is a distinct lack of depth to their CS: GO tactics.

A lot can happen for the team as the Major often brings out the best in some players. Being in a LAN situation on such a big stage would be some players punching above their weight. Hellraisers remain a wild horse with minimal expectations coming into the tournament.

 


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