Team Vitality is one of the most formidable forces in global Counter-Strike, but the Katowice curse continues to keep them adrift of IEM Katowice glory
The Katowice curse has come again to hunt Team Vitality. Arriving on Polish soil as one of the clear favorites, Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and his squad were riding high on confidence after a remarkable year filled with five S-tier titles, including the prestigious Paris Major. Their winning streak even continued into the CS2 era with a victory at the BLAST World Final 2023. However, their stellar form inexplicably faltered at IEM Katowice 2024, culminating in a disappointing 13th-16th place finish – their worst performance in the tournament's history.
Revisiting Vitality's Katowice Curse
Katowice has never been a happy hunting ground for the French powerhouse. Vitality have managed to qualify for the IEM Katowice playoffs once in five attempts. Let's revisit their past struggles in the South Central Polish city and explore what's behind these underwhelming performances.
Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII – Katowice Major 2019
Starting in the New Challengers Stage as a European Minor Challenger, Vitality secured a promising third-place finish with a strong 3-1 record. This earned them passage to the next part of the tournament, the New Legends Stage. Their momentum couldn't be sustained, however, as they dropped three of their five matches in the Legends Stage, falling short of further advancement.
IEM Katowice 2020
Vitality had a flying start to their IEM Katowice 2020 campaign. They made light work of a Ninjas in Pyjamas side, which was missing its core players. Back to back defeats to Astralis and FaZe Clan, however, knocked them out of the group stages.
IEM Katowice 2021
Vitality did not enter IEM Katowice 2021 under the best of circumstances. Longterm captain apEX had just returned from a hiatus, ZywOo was in a rough patch of form, and they had just had a forgettable BLAST Premier Spring Groups campaign. They had a winning start once again as they dispatched OG in their first match, but losing to Team Liquid in the next match led to another premature IEM Katowice exit.
IEM Katowice 2022
Vitality seemed like the perfect package heading into IEM Katowice 2022. They had the perfect blend of proven experience, raw talent, and winning mentality. With dupreeh, Magisk, and zonic joining the core of ZywOo and apeX, Vitality were undoubtedly one of the strongest units in the tournament. Their dominant BLAST Spring Group performance, where they finished as one of the three winners, further solidified their status as favorites.
Although Vitality captain apEX downplayed expectations before the tournament, their dominant first-match victory over MOUZ hinted at more. However, deja vu struck in the next round, as they fell to Heroic and exited the competition earlier than many anticipated.
IEM Katowice 2023
The Katowice curse seemed to finally lift for Vitality as they qualified for the IEM Katowice 2023 playoffs. They triumphed over fnatic in the Group B Upper Bracket Semifinals. However, a defeat in the Group B Upper Bracket Final to Heroic cast a shadow of doubt on their campaign. This doubt materialized as they fell to Team Liquid in the following match, ending their Spodek Arena run in the quarterfinals.
IEM Katowice 2024
Heroic have been Vitality’s kryptonite in Katowice. IEM Katowice 2024 presented Vitality a chance for redemption, but once again they fell to the usual team. The French side put on a strong fight, however, as all of the three maps lasted at least 24 rounds. Vitality, however, could not edge past their Danish rivals to keep their Katowice dreams alive.