IEM Katowice Group A: The Group of Questions

by Steven Cropley

Group A for Intel Extreme Masters Katowice is, to put it simply, the group of questions. Outside of No. 1 in the WWG CSGO Team RankingsAstralis who should be able to handle the group with relative ease, the group consists of five other teams of which four have made a roster move since the ELEAGUE Major.

NIPIEM
(Photo: IEM)

No. 7 Ninjas in Pyjamas are the only team other than the dominant Danes which as not made a roster move in this group, however, it was struggled as of late regardless. NiP failed to qualify for the Major for the first time before following it up with poor performances in online matches and barely making it past No. 9 Cloud9 in the group stage of DreamHack Masters Las Vegas before falling in the quarterfinals. NiP is moving further away from the image of what fans expect of the legendary organization, will Katowice be where it gets back on track?

No. 8 FaZe Clan will get its first match with Nikola "NiKo" Kovac under its banner at IEM Katowice and it should be beautiful. The team's recent results have not been thrilling, however, should NiKo bring the performance he gave in Vegas, FaZe will be quite happy. Out of the teams that made roster moves, this is by far the one that should produce the best results. A playoff berth is certainly expected for this team.

No. 6 OpTic Gaming has a lot of question marks in its current state. The team performed decently well in its first appearance without Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz, however, it still did not look as sharp. Can the addition of Spencer "Hiko" Martin alongside Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu as coach help patch the wound left by the departed player? In a group such as this, OpTic stand a chance although not a great one.

No. 11 Fnatic are a team of nostalgic value, having won IEM Katowice in March of 2016. The return to the previous lineup shows promise but how long does the team get before its considered a lost cause? Fnatic has taken losses to No. 2 Virtus.pro, No. 5 North, and No. 10 Gambit in its last ten maps showcasing spot No. 11 may be exactly where this team should be. Can it break into the top 10? Katowice should tell us where this team will be for the coming months.

No. 13 Immortals have not seen an international competition for quite some time and never with this new lineup including Lincoln "fnx" Lau. The team has won seven of its last ten matches, with two of those losses coming against its Brazilian brothers in No. 3 SK Gaming. They split maps with OpTic last week, showing weakness in a 16-5 loss on Overpass while dominating the No. 6 team on Cobblestone. Immortals have shown signs of being a top 4 team in North America but a lack of international competition leaves question marks around Katowice.