- Astralis is heavily favored to reach the finals at IEM Katowice and win the event
- Can anyone dethrone the Danish kings of Counterstrike?
- Can Team Liquid take down Astralis again, just like they did at IBP Masters?
With the first major of the year just around the corner, it’s just about time to look at what teams stand a chance at dethroning the Danish kings of Counterstrike; Astralis. Coming off of the most dominant year for a team ever in Counterstrike, everyone will be looking to knock the Danes down a peg in Katowice.
Over the past year it was almost assumed that if Astralis was in any tournament they would be walking away with the trophy. It somehow feels different this time. With all the new look teams, it may not be so easy for the Danes this time around.
First, let’s take a look at the odds to reach the finals at IEM Katowice.
Odds to Reach Finals at IEM Katowice
|Teams||Odds to Reach Finals at IEM Katowice at Bovada (02/12/19)|
Another Walk in the Park?
Astralis are coming off a year that saw the squad compete in 12 grand finals, coming out on top 10 of those times. Casually strolling through every tournament, the Danes are once again expected to do the same in Katowice, as they come in as the odds-on favorite to make the finals.
Astralis are coming off a year that saw the squad compete in 12 grand finals, coming out on top 10 of those times.
Though they were dominant in 2018, carrying over their success will prove to be a big feat. They already have one tournament under their belt this year, competing at IBP Masters. There Astralis fell short to the new look Team Liquid, the world’s consensus number two team who seemed to fall short every time the two met in 2018.
Though I expect the Danes were withholding some strategies at the lower end tournament, sometimes you just need to see them bleed to know they’re mortal. The world’s number one should make it back to the finals once again, but they may have a tough road to get there depending on how the bracket shakes out.
It’s hard to imagine Astralis not making the finals coming off of the year they just had. I wouldn’t say it’s for sure a lock of a pick, but it’s as close to one as possible. The Danish squad should be one of the two teams remaining come time for the Grand Final.
Who Will Join the Danes?
With the other spot in the finals up for grabs, there are a few teams that should be looked at to round out the final in Katowice. Liquid, FaZe, MiBR, and NRG, are all teams that I can see filling out that second spot.
Liquid was the world’s number two team for the majority of 2018, and continues to hold that title. After bringing in Stewie2k, they have formed arguably the strongest North American team ever. They were finally able to get it done against Astralis at IBP Masters, but doing it on the Major stage is a different story. Regardless, to make the finals, Liquid should seriously be looked at.
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) December 21, 2018
FaZe also have an event win in 2019, after coming out on top over Cloud9 at the ELEAGUE Invitational. Though you shouldn’t hold much stock in the victory as there was only four teams there, and they were the highest seeded team at the tournament. Maybe it was enough to boost their confidence though, and maybe we see 2017 FaZe in Katowice.
MiBR is the biggest question mark for me heading into Katowice. We kind of already know what we’re getting with the other big teams that made roster moves as they have pretty much all played so far in 2019, but MiBR has yet to show their cards. Heading back to the all-Brazilian SK Gaming lineup of past, it’s assumed that they will be a threat.
Will they be back in the form that they once held? That remains to be seen, but if they are able to get back to their old ways, they should be seriously looked at to make the finals in Poland.
Who else is excited to see @mibr on the server for the first time in 2019? 🇧🇷
— betway esports (@betwayesports) February 11, 2019
NRG are my sleeper pick to make the finals, because when they are on, they are seriously on. After missing the previous major, failing to make it through qualifying, the North American side should come out strong in Katowice.
NRG has managed to win some smaller tier events over the past year, and have put up some good performances against top teams. If you are looking for more value here, look no further than NRG.
Picks: Astralis (-225), Liquid (+165)
Odds to Win IEM Katowice
|Teams||Odds to Win IEM Katowice at Bovada (02/12/19)|
A Third Major on the Horizon for the Danes?
In what should come as no surprise to anyone, Astralis come into Katowice as the favorites to win back-to-back majors. Though it is hard to imagine them losing a top tournament, as it’s been so long since they’ve done so, Katowice may not come as easy as some expect for the Danes.
Liquid were able to show the world that Astralis are indeed beatable, after taking IBP Masters 2-1 in the final over the worlds number one team. Sometimes one win is all it takes to ignite the spark and create a different atmosphere in a team.
Liquid were able to show the world that Astralis are indeed beatable, after taking IBP Masters 2-1 in the final over the worlds number one team.
Another thing to keep in mind is how long teams have had to prepare for this major. With a long stretch of no premier tournaments, there is a high possibility that teams bring out some wacky strategies that have never been seen before.
It’s easy to write this one off with Astralis coming out on top, but it may just be the perfect storm for someone to finally topple the Danish titans. New rosters, a long time to prepare new strats, there may just be potential for an upset in Katowice. I have a lurking suspicion that Astralis will find a spot in the Grand Finals, but won’t be the ones to hoist the trophy when all is said and done.
Look for Liquid to finally get it done against their rivals in Katowice, and claim their first major for the organization.
Pick: Liquid (+450)
Region to Win IEM Katowice
|Region||Region to Win IEM Katowice at Bovada (02/12/19)|
Number Two for NA?
As I previously stated, I think this time around Liquid finally gets it done against Astralis, and comes out of Poland with their first major. Though it is quite possible that the winner comes from EU, I’m all in on the Americas to win their second major as a region.
Cloud9 did it at the previous winter major, it’s now Liquid’s turn to put on for NA.
Pick: Americas (+250)