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We’ve gone a bit Kato-crazy this week, largely because we’re in Katowice and the alcohol is very, very cheap. At least compared to the Stockholm Major. Didn’t catch the games? Let’s catch you up.
Katowice is a unique place for a Counter-Strike tournament.
Between the comparably cosmopolitan Cologne and the comparably warm and sunny Stockholm, Katowice stands as a harkening back to a previous era where esports was confined to the nooks and crannies of the big countries.
It’s a city that is so obviously not meant for esports. And yet, it’s a cornerstone of Counter-Strike; the centre of the city adorned by the shadow of the looming Spodek is littered with IEM Katowice marketing, largely ignored by the locals.
The Spodek itself is magnificent, magnified by the backdrop on which it exists. It stands above the city as if it were an old-timey colosseum, a place to forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a post-Soviet factory town and be someone else for a day.
The juxtaposition is what makes Katowice such an intriguing place for Counter-Strike.
Being here feels like being out of place, and yet you’re surrounded by people just like yourself in a town that looks bewildered at your presence.
It’s beautiful in its own way. The architecture and the bizarrely still-present Christmas market (that one can only assume is omnipresent, such is the frost and sub-zero temperatures that slap you in the face at every given moment) are lovely — if that’s what you’re into.
We suspect the average CSGO player (and fan) isn’t that into it.
This year’s edition of IEM Katowice was the first in which Impact was included, and indeed drew a pretty respectable crowd. The expo attached to the Spodek was pretty consistently blessed with footfall, and Impact drew many a piqued interest.
Whilst the level is clearly different from what the main stage showed - let’s face it, these women have had four tournaments, and one year, of organised competition - the ideas and set-ups are oddly familiar.
CLG Red might have gone out in day one, but some of their CT set-ups on Ancient were very interesting. A mid-round triple push through the red room smoke with a pop flash caught NAVI Javelins completely off-guard, but sadly they couldn’t deal with the mechanical difference that Javelins had.
Javelins, in their home country, made the final over B4, incidentally. The other semi-final was a barnburner, and it drew the crowd to match. A packed house saw a composed Nigma Galaxy overpower on Nuke, but a stunning show from Olga equalised against the de facto favourites.
Seriously. Olga went berserk. At 15-8 she had more assists than she had deaths. And she had 29 kills. On a map FURIA never really play.
Many will have missed map three — for there was a marginally bigger game happening a mere 100m away - but those who stayed were treated to the aNa show.
Olga vs aNa has become a bit of a ZywOo vs s1mple debate in Impact, but when it came down to it the Romanian took over and eviscerated FURIA. FURIA battled back to force OT with some crazy retakes, but NGX’s interplay and organisation, combined with their superstar’s takeover performance, was too much.
That semi-final was a replay of the last few finals, leaving NAVI Javelins with the unenviable task of finally cutting down NGX on LAN. Naturally, the aforementioned mechanical difference they had over CLG was non-existent vs the best team in the event.
They did push Nigma to OT in map two, but Nigma Galaxy are inevitable.
Who doesn’t love a good anti-climax?
Final standings at ESL Impact:
You know when we all decided that s1mple wasn’t toxic anymore?
Turns out it was just because he was winning every match.
Just after Heroic handed NAVI a spanking, the GOAT delivered not one but two scathing interviews about his teammate.
To Banks on stream, he said that “some players are shitting their pants on stage.” He then didn’t even bother turning up to receive the ESL Player of 2022 award, sending his manager instead.
During that ceremony, HLTV gave him a chance to wheel back on some of his criticism. Naturally, he doubled down instead: “it's not only one player, sometimes it can be even two or three players. The person just locks himself inside and he stops communicating.”
He also commented on NAVI’s peculiar role swaps, which included moving npl to Connector on Mirage and b1t to the B Apps. “You should ask B1ad3 because I ask myself some of the same questions” — a real vote of confidence.
We get it. He’s frustrated. After having competent teammates for about 3 months in 2021 he’s tasted what CS can really be like.
But it’s not like prime s1mple was in the server against Heroic, only posting a 0.93 rating. It was another sign of weakness after a very mortal 6 months for CS:GO’s reigning demigod.
But, for us at least, this drop-off says more about his lack of faith in NAVI than his actual ability declining. He’s a winner and expects the best from his teammates. He’s Michael Jordan, not Michael Scott. Why would he put in the hours when his team are so clearly in transition?
It’s sink or swim, not cuddle o’clock.
And when his team sink, s1mple — like any GOAT, in any sport — isn’t going to be someone you want to spend time around.
When you’re that good at something, it’s hard to understand why your teammate isn’t. And, that’s going to manifest negatively sometimes.
But it clearly correlates with something special, something in s1mple and Jordan’s brain that just makes them superior to the average player. He’ll be back, and so will NAVI. Eventually.
In Jame’s most recent video he asks YEKINDAR a lot of in-depth questions about his time as a player and playing in NA. But if you don’t have 29 minutes, here’s the TL;DR:
The new Revolution case is out, adding 24 new skins to the game with a *cough* very clear influence.
It’s not all bad though… Well, it’s not all good either. A lot of people (the weebs) have been loving the designs with a heavy Asian theme and there are a few other standouts.
But what about the bad? So far 2 of the skins have been exposed to be using stolen artwork, those being the M4A4 | Temukau and the AWP | Doodle Lore. Maybe we’ll see some new contraband skins? Naaaaah, Valve won’t do that.
Source: G2 Esports
G2 are undoubtedly the best team in the world.
Their winning streak might have been cut ‘short’ at just 21 map wins in a row, but their indomitable aura remains scarily intact.
An opening map win on Nuke felt ominous - when things got tight near the stretch, G2 found another gear and pulled away. Even without NiKo firing on all cylinders. huNter-, in his stead, was phenomenal; a trend which continued.
m0NESY had moments throughout where he was magic, and though the fairydust was quicksilver, it appeared from time to time. huNter-, of course, was a consistent threat. A superstar performance from map one to the unstoppable tide of G2 on map four, huNter- was the best player on the stage in the biggest game.
It was m0NESY who took control of Mirage when things got dicey, but it was so often huNter- who twisted the knife that m0NESY planted in Heroic.
Inferno went to Heroic, and it was a crumbling dam erected in front of G2. Their streak might have been stopped, but their victory could not be.
huNter-, again, felt unkillable on Ancient. A brick wall on the CT side and a katana on the T side. It felt close at the half, but G2 ran away from Heroic with surprising ease.
It was a truly great Grand Final, and in the greatest matches the best players stand tall.
G2 are the best team in the world.
Who’d have thought we’d have been saying that four months ago?
🐦 Irreversible life choices outed on the bird app
🔁 Team mania
😮 Too iconic to ignore