IEM Katowice European 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.
The mixed EU team is by far the most favored set of players to take home one of the two spots up for grabs at the IEM Katowice EU Minor, and rightfully so. They have yet to have a run like their first place finish at ESL One New York with STYKO back on the lineup, but they have been playing quite a bit more consistent. While with snax, mouz would go from placing 3-4th to placing dead last at a LAN event in just a weeks time. The once outstanding rifler always seemed to be dragging the team down, unable to get himself situated into the support role mouz desperately needed filled. Snaxs rapid decline in skill wasn't anything new, the legendary player had been struggling for quite some time. What was most concerning about the five man roster was the fluctuation in both chrisj’s and oskar’s performances. It was clear they struggled to get into the flow of things without their usual Slovakian support player to set them up for prime fragging positions. Now that the holidays are over and mousesports have had a bit over a month to prepare for the minor, the pressure and attention of all the spectators will be on them. It is clear that everyone's LAN performances have gone up since STYKO’s return, granted we have only seen three events so far, it's obvious that the 22-year old’s return to the roster was a smart move.
Looking at the opponents that the 4th best team in the world will be facing, there are very few that will be much of a challenge for mousesports to handle. However, like we saw with NRG during the NA minor last year, being the favorite can really mess with your game mentality and the pressure can be overwhelming. Obviously mousesports consist of a much more experienced roster, and can easily handle the pressure of being favorites. They still need to keep themselves focused and not take any opponent for granted. For example, just a few weeks ago we saw them go neck and neck against Vitality, the newest French experiment consisting of several older pros and young star ZywOo. They won in a close Bo3, 2-1, during the EU Minor Closed Qualifiers. Just a few wrong moves and their 1-4th place finish could have easily left them barely holding onto one of the final two spots available for this very Minor like Vitality did. Mousesports are more than capable of making out of their group, despite how stacked it is, and my guess is that they will be the team that finishes in the #1 spot of the minor.
The Danish scene has been the most dominant region of 2018 in CS:GO. Especially since they are home to the best team in the world; Astralis. North have found themselves shadowed by the beast that is Astralis for quite some time, always known as the #2 team in the Danish scene. Especially with all the changes they have made this year, this is the first time we have seen them with a roster that feels like it is here to stay. This will also be a key point in the organization’s journey to proving why removing MSL was a good idea, especially since he left the team with two first place finishes in a row. By no means do I doubt cadiaN’s abilities to take over the role, but removing an IGL like MSL was a shocking move considering the success the team seemed to be heading towards. With just four LAN events under the new roster’s belt, things have looked very inconsistent. Much like mouz with snax (which I mentioned above), the team has been very up and down. Placing 3-4th at the ECS Season 6 Finals just to finish 13th-16th at the EPL Season 8 finals. Especially with their 0-2 loss to a team like Sharks, they have a lot to prove here in Poland.
Luckily the Danish team somewhat redeemed themselves from their harsh EPL Final losses during the EU Closed Qualifier, 2-0’ing both ex-SS and Sprout. Not huge wins, but enough to prove their hunger and determination to make it to the Major. Individual performances have been far from expectations as well - aizy especially has dropped off with the change of leadership, but with the big changes that have happened within the roster these lackluster performances are to be expected. A new leader means a new gameplan, and for players to adjust to the new roles said gameplan makes it takes quite a bit of time. It has been roughly four months since the addition of cadiaN and the return of gade. They won't be perfect, but they should in theory have more than enough of a plan put together to grab the “New Challengers Status” at the IEM Katowice Major. Especially since they get to dodge mousesports, vitality, and OpTic until after the group stage.