(Image: Inside the Spodek arena © Helena Kristiansson – esportphoto.com)
The Intel Extreme Masters Katowice CSGO Major 2019 kicks off this Wednesday in Katowice, Poland.
Over the next three weeks, twenty-four of the best teams from all over the world will compete to win the most prestigious title in CSGO and their share of a million dollar prize pool.
The event starts with the New Challengers Stage at 1200 GMT on Wednesday. The teams which placed 9th-14th at the last Major and ten teams from qualifiers will play in a Swiss-style round robin format. The first eight teams to win three matches will qualify for the top sixteen, known as the New Legends Stage.
Reigning champions Astralis secured the FACEIT Major trophy in London by beating Natus Vincere 2-0 in the final. If they retain their title, the Danes will join Fnatic to become the second team in history to win three Major championships.
Astralis are considered favourites by many but will have to overcome American upstarts Team Liquid, European powerhouse FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere’s Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, voted PC Player of the Year at the 2018 Esports Awards. These four teams, at the rest of the top eight from London, will enter the tournament at the New Legends Stage.
The 11,500-seater Spodek arena will host the playoffs, known as the New Champions Stage, from the 28th February to the 3rd March. The victors will take home $500,000 and the IEM Season XIII Katowice Major 2019 trophy.
This tournament will also mark the start of Intel Grand Slam Season 2. The first team to win four out of ten ESL or DreamHack Masters events will win a $1,000,000 prize. Astralis won the first season, securing the bonus at the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals in Odense.
A full listing of Wednesday’s matches can be found below:
Renegades (AUS) – AVANGAR (KAZ) @ 1200 GMT
Fnatic (SWE) – ViCi Gaming (CHN) @ 1200 GMT
TYLOO (CHN) – Team Vitality (FRA) @ 1310 GMT
Cloud9 (USA) – Grayhound Gaming (AUS) @ 1310 GMT
ENCE Esports (FIN) – Team Spirit (RUS) @ 1420 GMT
G2 Esports (FRA) – Vega Squadron (RUS) @ 1420 GMT
Ninjas in Pyjamas (SWE) – Furia Esports (BRA) @ 1530 GMT
NRG Esplorts (USA) – Winstrike Team (RUS) @ 1530 GMT
Round 2 will be drawn after round 1 has concluded and will commence at approximately 1705 GMT.