Three favourites and a BIG Clan

Sebastian Lalic
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The IEM Katowice Play-In has produced fairly few shocks for anyone but FURIA.

Yet there was still electric Counter-Strike on display, so if you’ve missed the last few days of games, then lets get you back up to speed 👇


The Russian favorites avoided a BO1 upset in their first game against IHC (aka Tyloo 2.0) who didn’t show much talent.

On the flip side, Ax1Le and sh1ro made the game a fun one to watch as they tried to one-up each other's kills for sport. They both ended with a 24-11 KD but Ax1Le took home the trophy by putting up a 1.83 HLTV rating, beating sh1ro by .11. Margins.

IHC’s most notable moment came from sk0R who managed to win the clip competition with this outrageous effort.

Next up came the BO3 decider against ENCE. C9 started the series off strong by winning Anubis – a map they looked like they had prepared well for. However, all that prep might have led to them to forget about Inferno, where ENCE lived up to their music kit taking a solid 8-16 win.

You might have noticed that we haven’t said a word about buster in this debut event for Cloud9. Well it’s because his presence in the server had been rather unremarkable so far.

But, on Mirage something magical happened: buster topped the scoreboard and carried Cloud9 over the line.

One favourite qualified, three more to go.


The Ninjas came into this Play-In with plenty to prove, and a lucky draw saw them become favourites to make it through to Katowice’s main event.

NIP faced off against a feisty MIBR. Their BO1 took place on Nuke and despite NIP’s favoured status, the game was a close 16-13. You could see why they signed a fighter in k0nfig.

On paper the Ninja’s BO3 decider against Spirit was gonna be tough. But when NIP destroyed them 16-7 and 16-8, they showed why they belong amongst the big boys.

Still no upsets, two more spots to go.


This one got wobbly. On paper OG were the favourites although they did have some challenging opponents ahead of them. We’re not talking about EG, rather Sprout and fnatic who could prove to be potential pitfalls for an OG that can go missing sometimes.

The Red Bull boys cut it very close in their opener where they had to go OT against Sprout. Still, in overtime, they rallied and closed with a clean 4-1 (19-16).

Their decider game was set to be against fnatic who looked good against EG, although that doesn’t say much. fnatic showed up in good form taking the first map. It looked like we could finally get an upset. But NEOFRAG and nexa decided otherwise and sent the series to map 3.

To make matters worse for fnatic, someone got a lighter out and lit some FlameZ who, with a 2.2 K/D Ratio, burnt Inferno down (forgive us) and made sure OG moved on.

Okay, well Furia is in the final bracket, so the next heading has to be…


Wait, what? Okay, saying BIG wasn’t a favourite might’ve been slightly wrong.

After all, they have a habit of dropping out of one qualification only to win the next. And since they just failed to make it out of BLAST Spring Groups, we were due for a win.

That said, we would have put our money on FURIA to make it out of this side of the bracket.

But BIG did it again.

Their first game was relatively straightforward, beating Complexity 16-12. A scoreline only that close due to the T-sided nature of Anubis that basically gifted 8 rounds to COL.

Next up, BIG faced FURIA.

As the BO3 started, it almost looked like BIG was going to steamroll FURIA. They won the CT side on Anubis for Christ's sake. But FURIA did the same, with a 9-3 masterclass. I know we called it T-sided but FURIA was just that good.

Too bad it didn’t matter. BIG did what BIG does and showed some German efficiency. Taking both Mirage and Ancient from FURIA with 16-9 scorelines.

So, in the end, we got three favourites. And BIG.

Qualified Teams:

  • Cloud9
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • OG
  • BIG
February 2, 2023

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