- The New Challengers Stage begins February 13
- Which teams are a shoo-in to advance?
- Value picks to make it to the New Legends Stage
You can almost smell it in the air; IEM Katowice is right around the corner.
The long qualifying process for the year’s first Major has come to an end, and with all the teams set it’s finally time to take a look at what teams will advance from the New Challengers Stage to the New Legends Stage in Poland.
Odds to Qualify for New Legends Stage
|Team||Odds to Qualify for New Legends Stage at Bovada|
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||-400|
*All odds taken 2/10
It’s a Lock
First let’s take a look at some teams that should be an absolute lock to make it through the first stage of IEM Katowice.
Fnatic is a team that I believe will for sure make it through. Led by three former Major winners, and legends in the Counter-Strike scene, Fnatic simply has more experience than pretty much every team in the New Challengers Stage.
This will be Fnatics first major since bringing in twist and 16-year-old standout Brollan to the roster. As long as the veteran leadership of Xizt, Krimz, and JW is present, I don’t see this team having too much of a problem advancing in the opening stage.
The next team I think breezes through is ENCE. The Finnish side, led by veteran Allu, are a very good team. I could see ENCE making a run into the playoff stage of the Katowice Major. I think that they may even be a pretty good pick for the team to go 3-0. (More on that later.)
Cloud9 is another team that I think will roll through the New Challengers Stage. After a year of ups and downs, it looks like the North American/European hybrid roster has once again found their footing. After solid performances at Blast Pro Series Lisbon, IBP Masters, and the ELEAGUE Invitational, it looks like C9 is finally back.
Another squad I would say is a lock to advance through the first stage is NRG. At times NRG has looked like a top-5 team, and after missing the previous Major I think they are going to come out in Poland and show everyone why they can be so dominant.
The last team that I think will make it through the New Challengers Stage fairly easily is AVANGAR. Led by AWP/IGL Jame, the CIS side has shown that they can compete with some of the big dogs of Counter-Strike.
Teams on the Brink
There are some teams that in theory should make it, but have serious potential to choke and bow out of IEM Katowice early. I would say that G2, NiP, and Vitality are three of the teams that fall into this category.
G2 has been more or less a disaster for the past year – multiple roster changes and under performing constantly. They are a team that I would say is a coin flip to advance. They certainly have the talent to, it just depends on whether they can put it all together in Poland.
Today, the #Reshuffle begins.
— G2 Esports (@G2esports) November 26, 2018
NiP is a team that everyone loves, but they always seem to break hearts. Known to be inconsistent, they have the ability to make it through the New Challengers Stage, but they just have to play at the level they know they can.
They have a tendency to play to their opponent’s level, so if they just pretend they’re playing Astralis every game, the Swedes should be fine.
The last team that falls into the “should-but-may-not” category is Vitality, led by veterans, but carried by the young gun ZywOo. It really all depends how big of a backpack ZywOo brings to Poland for Vitality to advance. If apEX is able to also semi-carry, and veterans NBK and RpK are able to have at least decent performances, then Vitality should make it to the next stage of IEM Katowice.
Value Picks to Advance
Like I said before, it’s the best of the best teams when it comes to Majors, and there are definitely some sleeper teams that could see themselves in the New Legends Stage later this month.
Furia is a team that is relatively new to the big stage of Counter-Strike, but they have some insane talent in Yuurih and kscerato. At +325 the Brazilians should be looked at to move forward.
The other two teams I would recommend taking a look at to advance are Spirit and Vega Squadron, each sit at +375. Both teams have major experience, and one thing that I have learned watching CS:GO is don’t bet against CIS teams.
Picks: Fnatic (-650), NRG (-650), Cloud9 (-500), ENCE (-400), NiP (-400), Vitality (-190), AVANGAR (+100), Furia (+325)
Odds to go 3-0 in New Legends Stage
|Team||Odds to go 3-0 in New Legends Stage at Bovada|
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||+500|
Who Will Start Off Hot?
For my money, there are only three teams that I would even look at to start out 3-0 in Katowice: NRG, Cloud9, and ENCE.
I said before, when NRG are on, they can look like a top-5 team in the world. It just depends on what version we see in the opening stage.
Cloud9 has looked pretty good so far in 2019 against top teams. They should carry some momentum into the opening stage after coming off a second place finish at the ELEAGUE Invitational.
ENCE is just a very solid team. Though they have yet to play at a Major as a team, I can definitely see them going undefeated in the first stage in Katowice.
Pick: Cloud9 (+175)
Odds to go 0-3 in New Legends Stage
|Team||Odds to go 0-3 in New Legends Stage at Bovada|
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||+700|
Bowing Out Early
There are two teams that will end up 0-3 when all is said and done, and I think they both will come from the Asian Region.
The first team that I think will go 0-3 would be Grayhound. Though they have one of the most beloved players in Counter-Strike in DickStacy, I don’t have much faith in the Aussies. They just are’t quite the highest caliber team, and have struggled against tier 2-3 teams.
ViCi is another team that I can see not picking up a notch in the win column. Qualifying to Katowice with one of the two third-place spots, they just don’t have experience playing world class teams, and I expect it to show during the New Challengers Stage.
Pick: ViCi Gaming (+200)
Most Played Map in New Legends Stage
|Team||Most Played Map in New Legends Stage at Bovada|
The last prop we’ll be taking a look at for the New Challengers Stage is the most played map. To be honest, there isn’t much value outside of the top two: Mirage and Inferno.
One of the two maps is played pretty much every best-of-three series recently, and I would expect the same in the opening stage of the Major. For the added value, I would lean more toward Inferno for the most played map.
Pick: Inferno (+110)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.