16 teams battling it out for 1 000 000 dollar prize pool – it’s the first big CS: GO tournament of 2023, and it is the legendary IEM Katowice. We already had a little taste of what’s to come in 2023 from the early group stage of Blast Premier, but this event will truly test the mettle of the best. Which teams to look out for, who are the main favorites and other equally important questions are still in the air, so let’s try to clear up the image.
Who is the Nr. 1?
That’s a tough question to answer. If we look at the overall rankings, then currently the number one position belongs to Heroic, but if we look at the current form of teams, then the likes of G2 or FaZe would seem like safer picks. We also didn’t have Cloud9 in Blast, so they are certainly another team that can’t be overlooked. If anything, this will be one of the closest tournaments we’ve had in a while.
The momentum of G2
G2 ended their last season with a bang, being victorious in the Blast Premier World Final 2022. Their stellar performance was no fluke either because coming into 2023, they went on to have a perfectly clean 6-0 map score in the Blast group stage. They looked dominant, composed, and deadly, and even the GOAT of CS couldn’t stop them. If all right cylinders are firing, then it seems like nothing can stop the duo of Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov. If G2 can keep the same composure, then they are surely destined for finals.
FaZe are no strangers to winning ways, so on each tourney, they are expected to go all the way to the final. It’s one of the most complete line-ups in CS currently, loaded with talent and experience. They too had an almost flawless run in the 2023 Blast Groups, overall dropping only 1 map, while playing with a stand-in. Yes, they may have lost to G2 the last time they met, but when these two teams go head-to-head, it’s anyone’s game. Last year 4 out of 5 FaZe players were included in the yearly TOP 20 ranking, which no other team managed to accomplish.
The woes of NAVI
Natus Vincere is the oldest organization in CS, and this Ukrainian-based team has always been inside the tier 1 scene, but lately, they have experienced some significant challenges. 2021 was a dominant year for NAVI, but after unexpected roster changes, due to global unrest in the region, they’ve been scraping to find solid ground. In the 2023 Blast Group stage, NAVI lost two Bo3s to G2, and even the best player in the world Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev was left shaking his head. Of course, eventually, NAVI managed to get out of the groups, but we’re still only seeing the shadow of the once-great organization. If NAVI manages to fix their internal communication issues and finally settle down on a solid 5 man line-up, then surely we’ll see the old magic returning.
Ninjas in Pyjamas with k0nfig
It seems like NIP simply can’t catch a break. In the last year, this team has had multiple roster changes, due to various circumstances. Their suspected star Awper Nicolai “device” Reedtz decided to leave the team after a year of hiatus. NIP struggled to find their missing piece, and after things started to look promising, they once again lost another player. This time Hampus “hampus” Poser took an unexpected time off due to personal reasons. Only a few days later, NIP announced that for the time being, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke will fill in the spot. By now, almost every CS fan knows the controversy that follows k0nfig, but this time we won’t get into that, instead, we’ll look at the positives that this move can actually bring. Kristian is a mighty force inside the server. He is known for his relentless ability to open up rounds with entry frags, and generally speaking, his ceiling of potential is high. The main problem so far has been consistency. One day he can easily drop 30 frags, the other he is at the bottom of the scoreboard. If k0nfig can fit into the Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen’s created system, then NIP is a force to be reckoned with.
North America’s last hope
Some far all the teams that we’ve mentioned come from the European region, and it’s no secret that European teams have been at the top of the food chain, but there is one North American squad that has refused to wither away, often dubbed North America’s last hope – it’s Team Liquid. Although going into their 2023 campaign, Team Liquid has acquired the services of a legionary rifler Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis, but the core is still full on NA. There was a lot of hype surrounding this new roster, and the team did go through the initial honeymoon phase, but their performance in Blast Groups was worrisome, to say the least. For now, it’s hard to say what Team Liquid needs to change up, but we think that this current event will either make or break this squad.
Watch all the action live!
More stories and highlights will follow, as the IEM Katowice event progresses, so stay tuned for additional coverage. Remember that you can follow all games live and make your own predictions at the OlyBet website. Good luck and have fun!