IEM Katowice Group Stage Preview 

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IEM Katowice Group Stage Preview 

With the Play-In Stage over, we move on to the next stage of IEM Katowice.

The first S-Tier event of the year is in full swing, and even before meeting the top eight teams, we have already seen the kind of skills that make this a million-dollar tournament. The teams in the Play-In Stage have been playing some scintillating, incendiary CSGO, and we have already seen a number of shock results, along with many powerful teams being knocked out. Before the Group Stage begins, we’re here to tell you what you need to know to have a better idea of the teams involved — both those that got a berth by way of their rankings and those that qualified.

The Group Stage at this tournament — as it is called, anyway — strangely has a Double-Elimination Brackets format, with three times from each group moving onto the Playoffs. The winners of the Upper Bracket will go directly to the Semifinals, while the Lower Bracket winner and Upper Bracket losers will lock horns in the semis. With the brackets fully populated, let’s take a look at how each team stands going into the Group Stage. 

We have already done previews of the teams that took part in the Play-In Stage, so for an extended look at them, check here

IEM Katowice Group A Preview

These are the teams who either made it to or were already in Group A

  • Team Liquid
  • IHC Esports
  • Cloud9
  • Natus Vincere
  • G2 Esports
  • BIG
  • Team Spirit
  • FaZe Clan

Team Liquid 

  • Nick “nitr0” Cannella 
  • Joshua “oSee” Ohm
  • Keith “NAF” Markovic
  • Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski 
  • Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis

After a 2022 full of near misses, Liquid haven’t had the best start to this year either. They were knocked out of BLAST Premier Spring Groups by BIG, and are due for the Spring Showdown where a number of dangerous teams await to try and hamstring their attempts at qualifying to the Spring Finals. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Liquid don’t have the talent required to ace a tournament like this, but it’s their habit of faltering at events like this that makes us worry about their future at this competition. Nevertheless, they should be able to win against IHC Esports.

IHC Esports

  • Garidmagnai “bLitz” Byambasuren
  • Sodbayar “Techno4K” Munkhbold
  • Tuvshintugs “ANNIHILATION” Nyamdorj
  • Baatarkhuu “Bart4k” Batbold
  • Tengis “sk0R” Batjargal

There were perhaps only a handful of people — if any — who expected IHC to make it to the Group Stage. The Mongolian side isn’t short on skills, but they have a fraction of the experience of the two Brazilian teams that they beat in order to make it this far. The wins will give this young team plenty of morale, and knowing that they’ve already exceeded expectations will alleviate any nervousness they may be feeling. While beating Liquid will be a tall order, if they could beat the likes of FURIA and paiN, they’re in with a chance.


  • Vladislav ”nafany” Gorshkov
  • Dmitriy ”sh1ro” Sokolov
  • Timur “buster” Tulepov
  • Sergey ”Ax1Le” Rykhtorov
  • Abai ”HObbit” Hasenov

The Russian-American squad has also had a subpar year, and they’ll be looking to get a good result with the new addition to their squad. Cloud9 are one of the strongest teams at the tournament, and considering the fact that they dismantled IHC and also beat ENCE on their way to the Group Stage, they will be hoping to make it to the Playoffs one way or another. The only real threat to them is that of Na’ Vi being their first matchup, but considering the Ukrainian side’s recent form, a win for C9 would be well within the realm of realism.

Natus Vincere

  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • Denis “electroNic” Sharipov
  • Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy
  • Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi
  • “Andrii “”npl”” Kukharskyi

The 2021 Major winners haven’t been in the best of touches lately. Following the removal of Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev, who was supposed to be a stopgap but spent a good amount of time with them, they haven’t been able to find a worthy addition to their lineup. A slew of mediocre showings have followed, and although they were able to edge past Complexity at the Spring Groups, it wasn’t pretty. Given npl’s evident lack of experience and firepower, Na’ Vi will have to come up with something special to go the distance here.

G2 Esports

  • Rasmus “huNter-” Nielsen
  • Justin “jks” Savage
  • Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov
  • Nikola “NiKo” Kovač
  • Nemanja “HooXi” Kovač

The hottest team out there right now, G2 haven’t lost a series since falling to FaZe Clan back at the start of last year’s BLAST World Final. They look like they’ve found the kind of sweet spot in both form and strategy that allows teams to aim for some major (and Major) silverware, and with HooXi starting to come into his own and pull his weight alongside the rest, that once-far-flung dream might not be too distant anymore. Up against BIG in their first game, they’re far and away the favorites to take the matchup.


  • Johannes ”tabseN” Wodarz 
  • Florian ”syrsoN” Rische
  • Josef ”faveN” Baumann
  • Karim ”Krimbo” Moussa
  • Nils ”k1to” Gruhne

The Germans have shown renewed zeal in recent times, with a few important wins giving them some much-needed morale boosts. That being said, they seem to still be falling short exactly when it matters the most after appearing to be solid early in tournaments. Although they’ve been playing together for a while and seem to have what it takes to be a great team, they just lack the killer instinct to get past that final stretch. Whether they’ll finally break their curse of mediocrity at this event or some other remains to be seen.

Team Spirit

  • Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov
  • Boris “magixx” Vorobyev
  • Robert “Patsi” Isyanov
  • Pavel “s1ren” Ogloblin
  • Ihor “w0nderful” Zhdanov

Spirit has come quite a long way from its humble beginnings, with its players gradually improving and the management making some smart recruitment choices. However, they seem to still be stuck on that strange bit of unmarked land between being good and being one of the best. If they can be more consistent and build up some better strategies, they can become a force to be reckoned with. Considering the fact that their first match will be against FaZe, they’ll have to be at their absolute best to continue in the Upper Bracket.

FaZe Clan

  • Håvard “rain” Nygaard
  • Helvijs “broky” Saukants
  • Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken
  • Finn “karrigan” Andersen
  • Robin “ropz” Kool

With their hands all but closed around the Intel Grand Slam prize, FaZe can finally make it theirs if they manage to win at Katowice. After a high-flying start to 2022, the multinational superteam, FaZe have been struggling to put their crown back on in the last half a year or so with Vitality, Outsiders, Heroic and finally G2 passing the status of being the best CSGO team between them. This event will be a big test as far as the longevity of FaZe’s current lineup goes, especially with some of the players nearing or being past the usual retirement of the esport.

IEM Katowice Group B Preview

The following teams make up Group B: 

  • Heroic
  • Complexity
  • OG
  • MOUZ
  • Team Vitality
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • Fnatic
  • Outsiders


  • Martin “stavn” Lund
  • Casper “cadiaN” Møller
  • René “TeSeS” Madsen
  • Rasmus “sjuush” Beck
  • Jakob “Jabbi” Nygaard

Heroic might still be number 1 on the rankings, but they look far from how imperious one would expect a team in that position to be. They have been dropping games left, right and center, and not always to other top teams. This tournament will be a big test for them as well, because not only is their top spot in the crosshairs of many other teams, but their entire momentum in the scene depends heavily on it. Up against Complexity in their opening match, Heroic are one-sided favorites, but COL has been in good form lately, so anything’s possible.


  • Johnny ”JT” Theodosiou 
  • Justin ”FaNg” Coakley
  • Ricky ”floppy” Kemery
  • Michael ”Grim” Wince
  • Håkon ”hallzerk” Fjærli

There have finally been some signs of life in the halls of this storied CS clan. After years of being down in the dumps, it seems as though COL may have found some solid ground to stand on. There’s still undoubtedly a long way to go as far as being a force in the CSGO world is concerned, but they now have a few sparks of hope and a few good recent performances to look back at fondly where a few months ago, they had none. 


  • Shahar “flameZ” Shushan
  • Nemanja “nexa” Isaković
  • Adam “NEOFRAG” Zouhar
  • Maciej “F1KU” Miklas
  • Abdulkhalik “degster” Gasanov

Arguably the team that has undergone the biggest improvement over the course of the last quarter of a year or so, OG have surprised many with its rise. They are still far from being a top team, and they will have to work heavily on being consistent and remaining undaunted in the face of more experienced, higher-level opposition, but like COL, their recent performances have been a godsend for their morale. With their first opponents being MOUZ, we can expect a brilliant clash between two young, talented teams that frequently punch above their weight.


  • David ”frozen” Čerňanský 
  • Christopher “dexter” Nong
  • Ádám “torzsi” Torzsás
  • Jon “JDC” de Castro
  • Dorian “xertioN” Berman 

The current MOUZ lineup is that frustrating squad that seems to be poised for greatness, but just can’t find the tenacity to grab it when it’s at hand. They have five excellent players who are individually capable of dominating any opponent in the world on their best days, but they rarely fire on all cylinders at the right time. They have also been out of top-tier action for quite a while, with their last appearance at an S-Tier event having been at the Rio Major, so they’re a bit of an unknown quantity at the moment. 

Team Vitality

  • Dan “apEX” Madesclaire
  • Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut
  • Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen
  • Emil “Magisk” Reif
  • Lotan “Spinx” Giladi

One of the strongest teams on paper, Vitality is an interesting mix of aging superstars who often lose their cool. Talented to no end, the French organization and its mix of local, Danish and Israeli talent who are no strangers to beating the strongest teams, but they also can’t be ruled out of losing to a team that should have no business beating them. They will play their opening game against Swedish underdogs Ninjas in Pyjamas, and, considering the state of NIP’s affairs, should be able to win.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

  • Fredrik “REZ” Sterner
  • Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen
  • Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke
  • Danyyl “headtr1ck” Valitov
  • Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin

NIP ended last year on a bit of a high, but their team has been in turmoil in this one. Their new recruit has been decent, but before they could gather enough experience as a quintet, they were broken apart by issues in the personal life of one of their own. After failing at the Spring Groups as a result, they will now play Katowice with a player with an undoubtedly higher pedigree, but a substitute nevertheless. If they can beat Vitality, though, nothing can be ruled out.


  • Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson
  • William “mezii” Merriman
  • Nico “nicoodoz” Tamjidi
  • Fredrik “roeJ” Jørgensen
  • Dion “FASHR” Derksen

Fnatic lost in their Upper Bracket match against OG in the Play-In Stage, but managed to squeeze into the tournament by way of getting a relatively easy matchup against MIBR. They have a bevy of young talent that seems poised on the brink of greatness, but might just lack the strategy required to take their team to the next level. Speaking of which, they will be up against the dangerous Outsiders in their first match, and will need every bit of strategy against the big-brained team.


  • Aleksei “Qikert” Golubev
  • Dzhami “Jame” Ali
  • Evgeniy “FL1T” Lebedev
  • Aleksandr “KaiR0N-” Anashkin
  • Pyotr “fame” Bolyshev

The surprise Rio Major winners ended their year on a sour note with an unceremonious exit from the World Final, but don’t let that fool you — they are still a very powerful team. They will hope to not just come back with a bang at Katowice, but also return to the top spot in the rankings as well as close in on FaZe in the hunt for an Intel Grand Slam. They will unquestionably be one of the most closely-watched teams at the event, especially with the addition of a new face to the lineup.

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IEM Katowice Group Stage Preview 
The Old One
When he's not sighing at sub-standard teammates in Dota 2 and CS2, The Old One is writing about those two games (among other things). If you see his name around the site too many times for your liking, well, the guy just never stops writing. Yes, we've tried an intervention.