4 “Major” Questions That iBP Masters IV Can Answer Before IEM Katowice

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4 “Major” Questions That iBP Masters IV Can Answer Before IEM Katowice

The iBUYPOWER Masters IV kicks off this weekend, Saturday, January 19th, and because we are so close to the IEM Katowice Major, we can use this tournament to give us a  preview of what we can expect at Katowice from the top teams in attendance. Understandably, the “saving strats for the Major” meme is alive and well, so we might not see flashy strats and pocket map picks, but there are still things we can learn if we ask the right questions. 

Group A

  • Astralis
  • Fnatic
  • Cloud9
  • compLexity Gaming

Group B

  • Team Liquid
  • FaZe Clan
  • Ghost Gaming
  • Luminosity Gaming

Let’s take a look at four questions that the iBUYPOWER Masters IV can answer for us, starting with Team Liquid.


How will TL utilize Stewie2k?

While the Taco for Stewie2k trade has already been covered and analyzed to death, this tournament will be the first chance for us to see how TL and their new coach, former Team Liquid IGL Eric “adreN” Hoag, have decided to work him in. While there is actually significant overlap in the positions that Taco and Stewie played, there are a few spots that we should watch out for. For example, on Mirage Stewie has always been the explosive A-site player, while Taco is the dependable B-site anchor. Keep an eye on whether the team keeps Stewie on the A-site and moves Twistzz or Elige to B with NAF or whether they have him fill the now vacant B-site anchor role.

Likewise, Stewie2k has never been a Nuke player, so does Liquid simply stop playing that map (which would be shortsighted, as Liquid’s map pool is a glaring weakness in an otherwise strong team) or does adreN manage to find a spot where Stewie2k is comfortable?

Working Stewie2k into a natural role in this roster is essential to his success, and if TL doesn’t, well, just ask MiBR what happens when you take Stewie out of his comfort zone.


Will Astralis come out strong?

Where to begin with the Danish super team? Their 2018 run was enough to cement CS:GO firmly in the Astralis era, and with no changes coming through to either the lineup or the coaching staff, it is not unrealistic to assume that their dominant form will continue. That said, towards the end of 2018, Astralis had some slow starts in the waning tournaments of the year. They started to drop a map here or a map there to inferior competition, often early in the group stages, but always finished strong. Look to see if that trend continues this weekend.

FaZe Clan

Can FaZe beat the teams they’re supposed to beat?

This seems like an odd question, but by the end of 2018, FaZe Clan looked nowhere near as dominant as they did in the span between late 2017 and early 2018. Early this year, the team decided to shake things up, benching IGL Finn “karrigan” Andersen and coach RobbaN. In their place, the team is trialing Dauren “ AdreN” Kystaubayev in the IGL role and has picked up ex-MiBR coach Yanko “YNk” Paunović.

That’s a few new faces, but against when you have a team that has Guardian, Olaf, rain, and Niko, there really can’t be any excuses against the lower tier teams in the tournament. As much as we would like to give them a break due to the recent roster shakeup, anything less than a semi-final appearance from FaZe would be disastrous, and no “but they had a stand-in!” could save them from that. The match results are our answers here; if FaZe can take care of the lesser team in their group and keep their (probable) match against Team Liquid close (or win it), we can start believing in FaZe again.


Is Golden's time on Cloud9 running out?

The C9 Boston Major win so long ago I feel like I dreamt it, and Cloud9 is a shadow of their former selves. Just before the New Year, Cloud9 added Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro to replace Maikil “Golden” Selim, who has struggled with his health for several months now, and C9 coach valens is slated to retire at the end of the Katowice Major. With Team Liquid and NRG the undisputed top NA teams, how long is C9 willing to wait for Golden to recover?

While we probably won’t see C9 win the iBP Masters this weekend, a strong showing in the group stages might be enough to restore some hope in this beleaguered lineup and cement them as the third strongest team in NA. Watch for strong team play between Autimatic and Rush, and pay close attention to how Zellsis performs and how much leeway the team gives him as it could be an indicator that Golden is on his way out. There have been several top commentators and analysts calling for C9 to give Golden until after the Major to get healthy, and this tournament could help decide his fate.


Nick Johnson
Nick "Lesona" Johnson is an esports journalist with a focus on CS:GO and the OWL. His interest for esports started with CS:S and grew into a career as both an esports writer and an avid fan, giving him a unique perspective on both the casual and professional scenes. Twitter: @Lesona_