The first major of the year which took place in Katowice a few weeks back came to an end with Astralis shining on top once again, claiming their second consecutive major while equalizing Fnatic in terms of the total number of majors won.
But this according to me was not the standout moment of the grand event; rather my mind was blown watching ENCE make their way through to the grand finale. It was indeed a phenomenal run by the Finnish squad who had been working towards achieving success since about a year now.
ENCE without a doubt are the once who have topped this list, but being the obvious victors I would like to take the pedestal away from them and pass it on to those, who achieved quite a lot but not enough to outrun the Finnish glory.
ViCi Gaming was the real dark horse at the Challengers Stage of IEM Katowice 2019. While the discussion was on about how the Chinese squad had managed to defeat North in the Minors 3rd Place Play-In, they went on to bamboozle everyone by taking down both Fnatic and Cloud9.
Although it was predicted that everything would depend upon the talented youngster Freeman and the Malaysian awper Kaze, that was so not the case as the experienced trio of zhokiNg, aumaN and advent made their presence felt in plenty of tight situations.
The aggressive playstyle that ViCi had adopted was proving out to be a massive problem for their adversaries. They were impossible to stop after gaining momentum, especially due to their unconventional setups and sudden drop in pace inbetween rounds.
While the team in itself had us rooting for them pretty hard, it was Kaze’s awping that was the absolute highlight of every discussion involving them. Though ViCi could not make it through the Champions Stage, they did have quite an impact, turning out to be worthy contenders.
NiP were not in the best form while coming into the Majors and though they made it all the way to the Champions Stage, the journey was not all that jazz.
They were struggling throughout the Challengers Stage, scraping past teams like Vega and ViCi while dropping their match against Winstrike. But something certainly changed during the break leading up to the Legends Stage cause NiP were a completely different team.
They held their own taking down strong contenders like NRG and VItality who were predicted to make it to the top eight, though they could not survive for long in the final playoff, they surely outlived their predicted expiration date.
NRG who missed out on the FACEIT Major London 2018 had worked really hard to make their way to Katowice. They were one of the favourites going into the Major, holding the fifth position on the global leaderboard.
Everything was merry for the NA squad as they finished first in the Challengers Stage but they tumbled hard in the next round, dropping all the way down to the last position losing out to AVANGAR and Complexity, something which came as a big shock for everyone.
Brehze, the American prodigy was in top form stepping up for the side when required with a consistent performance throughout. He carried his side hard, holding a respectable overall rating of 1.19 but lady luck was not abiding by their side as they crashed out of the Major.
Image Credit: HLTV
Renegades are not new to majors and this was supposed to be just another run around the ballpark but the team from down under had other plans. Renegades rivalled NRG in the Challengers Stage, following the American squad from not dropping a single map all the way to the round difference.
Image Credit: Liquipedia
The Australian squad was on fire as they went ahead all the way to the Champions Stage losing just a single game against Astralis. They were also the only team who got a map off Astralis in the entire Katowice major.
Everyone was in great form, it was especially refreshing to see AZR and jks playing together as a unit, running rampant through the opponent's line-up. It was really great to see the team from down under do so well at the event and I truly believe that it was mostly because of the famed handlebar moustache.
By far the biggest let down of the major was to see the Swedes crash out of the event without doing anything. And they actually did nothing, even the games that they lost have no valid things to point out.
The team was in disarray right from the very start. Ranked sixth on the global rank list while coming into the majors and also attaining the highest seed according to the votes received by their competitors, Fnatic were in for a lot of hate after losing to both ViCi and Winstrike in succession.
Image Credit: Intel Extreme Masters
Fnatic who used to hold the record for the maximum number of majors won by a team are now sharing it with Astralis, will they let the Danes supercede them or will the necessary changes be made in time?
These were the moments that stood out, peculiar from the proceeding of the Major. Hope you enjoyed the read and do comment below if there are some other moments like these that I might have missed out on.