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IEM Katowice Preview

By Irena 'curlychan' Pencheva
Jan 18, 2013 01:04

ImageThe first major eSports event of 2013 will take place in Katowice, Poland between 18 and 20 January. 8 teams from Europe, North America and Korea will enter the battle for $ 50 000, so let’s take a closer look at them.

IEM’s manager Michal “Carmac” Blicharz fulfilled his dream of bringing the tournament to his homeland of Poland and it seems that he and the whole crew behind it have outdone themselves. On top of the beautiful venue, the groups for the tournament look formidable and going out of them will be a hard task for almost every team. All of that speaks of an event that will be more than worthy to open up a year that promises to be even bigger for League of Legends than 2012, so I hope you have the next three days freed up for some eSports awesomeness.

Group A

Group B

1. PL Absolute Legends


After the ghosting fiasco with the last North American team of Absolute Legends, which they had to stop supporting because of it, they picked up yet another new team and for the second time it is consisting only of Polish players. They are relatively unknown players and this will be their first offline event. What’s more, they have one of the toughest groups that a newcomer can get. It’s a tough luck, but their chances of getting out of the group seem pretty slim. The experience they could gather from playing against teams like Azubu Frost though is immeasurable, so let’s hope they will use it well in the future.

2. EU Fnatic


Fnatic had a pretty successful run in the end of 2012, taking 4 top 2 spots in only 2 months. At the time though they had SE Martin 'Rekkles' Larsson and he’s no longer with them. The team has been practicing with Yellowstar for the majority of time after Christmas and even had a week long bootcamp just before the IEM. Despite that even the players themselves say that they could have prepared better and practiced more. Fnatic will have to count on the old synergy between Yellowstar and nRated to be still alive, but most of all xPeke and sOAZ will have to show the same level of play as they did at IPL 5 and IEM Cologne and carry the team towards the victory. A top 2 spot with all the strong teams attending the event would be considered a success and a great warm-up for the Season 3 Qualifiers. First they have to go out of the group though and even that may be a challenge itself.


3. RU


In case you don’t know who Gambit Gaming is, you missed some of the news from the past couple of days. As Moscow 5 couldn’t support their League of Legends team anymore due to their CEO’s problems with the law, Alex Ich and company were on the lookout for a new sponsor. They found him in the face of Gambit Gaming, an unknown for now organization. If the Russians haven’t lost their sharp skills though, we can be sure that they will make it famous enough in no time. They didn’t have the best end of the year with 4th places at the Season 2 World Championship and IPL 5. Even though many would call that a success, the Russian boys are used to winning and they probably spent a lot of time analyzing their mistakes and trying to get back to their old top form. It would be very interesting to see if they succeeded in that and considering the tough group they are in, IEM Katowice will definitely prove to be a worthy challenge for them.


4. PL MeetYourMakers


The other Polish team attending the event, MYM, is no stranger to offline events anymore. This is their third IEM tournament in a row, and they got one 1st and one 3-4th place in the previous two. They are definitely in the tougher group out of the two but they already sent one big name home in the group stage at IEM Cologne, namely MYM relies a very strong level 1 aggression and if any of the non-European teams are not aware of that, they might get painfully surprised. Unless the Season 3 changes to the game took some of the Polish team’s strengths away, they have their chances of making it out of the group stage, even more so with the public cheering for them.


5. EU SK Gaming


SK were laying low ever since the Season 2 Championship and Tales of the Lane, trying to reform their roster and improve their team play. They brought back long-time member CandyPanda and acquired a new jungler in the face of HyrqBot and as soon as the Season 3 patch hit the live servers they started practicing hard on it. Team captain Ocelote claimed that since it promotes much more aggressive play style, it fits him and his mates and they will soon find their way back among the best teams in Europe. One thing that might stop SK in their tracks is the hard group that they are about to face in Katowice, but it is time for them to back up their words with actions and after their week long bootcamp at the G Data house, all their fans certainly have their hopes up.

6. US Team Curse


All the way from sunny California where they just qualified for the Championship Series, Curse are now in snowy and cold Poland ready to defend the American honour. They had a very good showing at the NA qualifiers (yes, against arguably not so strong teams) and should be in top shape. There’s only one problem though – their AP carry US Chenglong 'Nyjacky' Wang couldn’t get a visa for Poland in time and will be replaced by the team’s sub Rhux. The rather new to the pro scene player was initially a top laner and has played as support for Curse, so it is unknown how good he would be in the mid lane and what the team synergy with him would look like. The NA team is in a pretty tough group, which includes Azubu Blaze. With Curse being the only squad from their region ever taking a game off them, could we see this happen again?

7. KR Azubu Blaze


The Korean powerhouse sets foot in Europe for the first time along with its “brother” team Frost. They just lost to them in the OGN semifinal last week for a second season in a row, but it would be hard to believe that crashed their fighting spirit. Blaze will be a huge threat to every team in their group at IEM Katowice and they probably want some revenge on ex-M5 for taking them out at IPL 5. What’s more, they have been playing competitively on the Season 3 patch for more than a month and know all of its strongest points. Blaze are definitely one of the teams to look for in the tournament and are expected to make it out of the group stage, and probably even all the way to the final.


8. KR Azubu Frost


Last in this list, but probably the strongest team out of all 8 attending the tournament, Frost comes with one thought in mind – to take the trophy. It’s nearly impossible to outban any of their players, each of them excels in so many champions. The other Korean teams know that very well as Frost are on a row in “The Champions”, taking out KR CJ Entus in the quarter-finals and Blaze in the breath-taking semifinal. Frost may not have the easiest games against Fnatic or SK, but losing is rather unlikely and they will most probably advance as #1 in their group. They are widely expected to win the whole tournament or in the worst case (for them) at least to reach the final.



18 January, Friday
Gambit vs Azubu Blaze - 14:00 CET
MYM vs - 15:15 CET
Gambit vs - 16:30 CET
MYM vs Azubu Blaze - 17:45 CET
Gambit vs MYM / vs Azubu Blaze - 19:15 CET

19 January, Saturday
SK Gaming vs Azubu Frost - 14:00 CET
Fnatic vs - 15:15 CET
SK Gaming vs - 16:30 CET
Fnatic vs Azubu Frost - 17:45 CET
SK Gaming vs Fnatic / vs Azubu Frost - 19:15 CET

20 January, Sunday
Semi-final #1 - 12:00 CET
Semi-final #2 - 14:45 CET
Finals - 17:45 CET

The tournament will have yet again a set of great casters, which includes Joe Miller, Jatt and Deman (are you hoping for a tri-cast, too?), as well as ButButButILY and Panky on the analyst desk. The first event of 2013 promises nothing but pure awesomeness. Are you tuning in?

Pictures courtesy of Fnatic, Gambit Gaming, ESL, ThisIsGame and Azubu.



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