IEM Katowice CIS Minor
With the first Major of 2019 coming up in just under a month, it is yet again time for us to take a look at the Minors and figure out which teams will be moving onto the main event. All four will be taking place in Poland, and two teams from each minor are guaranteed a spot at the Major. On top of these two spots, there is a new stage called the “Minors' 3rd Place Play-in”. Each team that finishes in 3rd place will have one more chance to battle it out on the 27th of January. There are many promising teams spread out across the different Minors and the level of competition will be even higher with this new 3rd place stage of the Major process. Over the next 11 days we will be watching teams from all over the world compete and I will be informing you of the competition and who to expect to make it out of each Minor.
Outside of Spirit, AVANGAR is the only team that has had their roster together for more than a few months. In fact both these two are the only ones who have a roster that have played more than roughly 40 maps together. It is clear that the CIS scene has been making lots of changes and because of this a lot of them haven't been able to showcase a level of play that could compete against the two teams I mentioned at the beginning. A factor that can either make the Kazakhstanian team’s path to a major spot incredibly easy due to everyone else's lack of skill, or very hard due to the potential surprise factor behind their opponents. Like most favored teams, AVANGAR are going to have to be incredibly causes and not take any team for granted that they will be facing in Poland. Dozens of teams make the mistake of underestimating opponents, AVANGAR most recently demonstrated this very act at the PLG Grand Slam. To be fair it was a “shit show” given all the delays and technical problems, but after going neck and neck against some of the best teams in the world at EPICENTER to losing to forZe and a struggling G2 roster was an outcome well below the communities expectations and their abilities.
Like the rest of the CS:GO scene, the team has had a month or so to regroup and reset. They also have the obvious advantage of prior encounters with a majority of the opponents they’ll be facing. Despite the not so clean finish to their 2018 year, everything prior to the StarSeries qualifiers and the PGL Grand Slam was impressive. AVANGAR only have 26 LAN maps played with their current roster, but the small sample size we have seen is more than enough evidence to prove them worthy of taking down anyone that may cross their path to a major spot. Across the board, everyone's been putting in pretty equal numbers and stepping up to the plate. The only notable outlier being, Jame, their AWPer, who has improved a miraculous amount individually. Besides just looking at his stats, which have notably gone up a large margin for a player who spent most of his time in 2018 losing before the addition of fitch, the way he plays has become much smoother and more impactful. Even at the PGL Grand Slam, which AVANGAR finished 9th-12th, the 20-year old staked his claim in the top five of just about every leaderboard possible. Something we’ve seen him consistently doing more and more for the team. In my eyes, AVANGAR will almost certainly be taking home at least one of the two guaranteed major spots being offered at the CIS Minor this week.
This Russian lineup is no stranger to minor qualifiers and are a pretty obvious pick to claim one of the two major spots at the CIS minor, in fact given the competition I think the most interesting part of the CIS event will be the battle for that 3rd place play-in spot. Sadly everyone outside of Spirit and AVANGAR just haven’t shown enough for me to feel confident in them beating either of these teams, let alone taking a first or second place spot from them. Especially seeing as most have been together for very little time, and have lost numerous match-ups to opponents well below the caliber of these two teams. Despite my confidence, and presumably the teams as well, upsets are always possible. Especially with rosters that are as new as most of the CIS Minor ones due to their less put together play style that comes with a new team. Either way, Spirit will be looking to secure their second major attendance in a row, and they are most certainly in a very good position to do so. No LAN games have been played by Spirit since the FACEIT Major, but they have been winning in their online qualifiers when it counts, especially during their run at the StarSeries qualifier. It may of been online, but incredibly fun to watch nonetheless, the Russian team ended up winning every single Bo3 they played.
Just to give a quick rundown, they beat Red Reserve, Winstrike, OpTic, DreamEaters, and Vitality to secure themselves a spot at the next StarSeries event. Looking at the players who managed to survive past 10 maps in the qualifier, COLDYY1 did incredibly well. Obviously unable to outmatch ZywOo who ended with a whopping 1.42 rating, but coming respectively in as the second best player of the event with a 1.22 rating. Both him and somedieyoung have been the primary heavy hitters of this lineup for quite some time, however outside of the CIS Minor Closed Qualifier, COLDYY1’s partner in crime had been playing at a lower level then we are used to seeing. By no means was he terrible, but looking at the StarSeries qualifier specifically, it isn't usual to see both DavCost and Dima above the 21-year old in terms of impact and individual performances. Online games are obviously nowhere near as important (in terms of individual performance) as offline, but it's still amazing to see the Ukranians take down teams like OpTic and Vitality without a major carry from both of their star players. Besides the obvious experience advantage that Spirit has, it is clear that they have been practicing hard since the FACEIT Major. They will be looking to go further then just the main qualifier this time around, and what better way to start their IEM Katowice run then with a dominant claim over one of the two spots up for grabs in Poland.