The IEM Katowice Major has finally come to an end, and it ended with a bang. Astralis took home their third Major victory, dismantling ENCE in two maps and equaling Fnatic’s Major record. The Major, however, is much more than the final. Twenty-four teams played in this Major, and we here at ESTNN thought we would highlight some of the most interesting performances. Without further ado, here are ESTNN’s five players that surprised us during the IEM Katowice Major.
JORDAN “NOTHING” GILBERT - COMPLEXITY GAMING
Despite “retiring” almost a year and a half ago, Nothing came back to the scene and helped compLexity defeat NRG 2-0 and take a map off FaZe. Sure, Gilbert wasn’t the most impactful player on coL, nor did he post insane ratings or pull off amazing clutches. That said, Nothing played his part as a stand-in, making minimal mistakes and performing as a dependable member of the team. His veteran presence was surely important to the team, and his famously light-hearted demeanor was an asset to a squad that had the deck stacked against it this tournament.
It’s too soon to tell if Nothing will stick around on compLexity, but the team could surely do worse at the position.
FERNANDO “FER” ALVARENGA - MIBR
Dom and I weren’t kind to fer on last week’s podcast. Now, I’m not saying he heard us, but he certainly played like he did. Fer played like a complete madman in the playoff matchups. With a 1.35 average between the three playoff matchups against NiP, Renegades, and Astralis, Fer was a major force in MiBR’s wins in the stage. Additionally, MiBR showed none of the role confusion that they have shown in the past when they paired Alvarenga with João 'felps' Vasconcellos, allowing Fer's trademark aggression to be on full display.
Fer's performance was surprising (and impressive) simply due to the fact that we haven't seen this fer in a long time. During MiBR's flirtation with an international lineup, the aggressive presence of both Jake "Stewie2k" Yip and Tarik "Tarik" Celek seemed to stifle fer's own aggressive playstyle. It looks like Fallen and Co. have finally figured out how to have fer flip the switch, and this bodes well for their matchup with the other top teams at Blast Pro Series São Paulo later this month.
EGOR “FLAMIE” VASILYEV - NATUS VINCERE
From the Challengers stage onwards, Flamie was one of the most impactful players not just on Na’Vi, but on any team. His performance on Dust 2 against AVANGAR was vintage flamie and including a 1v4 AWP retake on the B bomb site and an ace during a tense A-site defense. Vasilyev often found himself in the perfect position to make the play paired with some tremendous aim to hit the necessary shots. He seemed to be in the zone for much of this tournament, excluding Na'Vi's early games. Because of this, flamie grabs a spot on our list.
Flamie was key to Na’Vi’s deep run at the Major during a tournament that saw s1mple and electronic disappear for long stretches of time. Flamie didn’t make our top two simply because of his team’s poor performance against lesser teams in the tournament. If you want to be in the top two, you have to be consistent. If Flamie can continue this run of form during the upcoming Blast Pro Series in Miami in April, look for him on these lists in the future.
ENCE. 'NUFF SAID.
I know its cheating, but we placed the entire ENCE team at number two. The Finish team brought an unparalleled and impressive effort throughout the Major, taking down some of the best teams in the scene. They looked unafraid against higher-ranked squads, and even when down by huge margins they were able to stay composed and find a way to consistently win against top teams.
If you had to pick one player, look no further than Jani 'Aerial' Jussila. The 25-year-old rifler had an up and down performance at the Major, but his impact against higher-ranked teams, namely Na’Vi and Team Liquid, earned him recognition.
Similarly, Aleksi 'allu' Jalli should be congratulated for the way that he led his young teammates throughout the tournament. Allu often found an impact on the AWP, and despite posting negative ratings in both Na’Vi match and against Astralis, his presence surely helped the young stars perform.
In reality, the entire number two spot on this list belongs to ENCE. They consistently played up to the level of their opponents without cracking on what must have been extreme pressure. In reality, ENCE can't place their Major success on the back of one or two players. The entire roster carried their own weight, propelling ENCE to the Grand Final. While they fell short of the ultimate goal, ENCE has plenty to be proud of.
ANDREAS 'XYP9X' HØJSLETH - ASTRALIS
Let’s be honest, there wasn’t another team that could represent our number one spot like Astralis could. In that same vein, you simply cannot underestimate the impact that Xyp9x had during this Major. While his play is always consistent,
Xyp9x takes the top spot because I refused to not be surprised at how consistent he is in the clutch. It never matters how many players he is up against in 1vX situations, you always feel like Højsleth can pull it off. We could say the same about every single player on Astralis, but Xyp9x takes the number one spot because there’s no one you would rather have alive at the end of a round than him.
Højsleth clutched out several game-defining rounds against his opponents in the playoffs. Against ENCE on Train, Xyp9x was a force to be reckoned with at whichever bomb site ENCE decided to hit. Against MiBR, Xyp9x ended with a 1.49 (HLTV 2.0) rating, showcasing his ability to bounce back after his less-than-stellar performance on Overpass.
Astralis never wins matches off the back of one person; they are a teamwork-oriented team. That said, I need two hands to count the number of rounds that Højsleth won on his own, and that’s what makes an impact.
Think you have one that we missed, let us know on Twitter or in the comments!