IEM Masters Season XIII – Katowice Major 2019, New Legends Stage preview

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The Katowice Major has reached the Legends Stage, with all the top dogs from the previous Major now joining those who came through the Challengers Stage.

The action moves from the ESL Arena to the International Congress Centre in Katowice for what should be a fascinating series of games.

Last year’s London Major winners Astralis are, as always, are the team to beat – Dafabet have them as the 2.080 favourites to win the whole thing – but it will be interesting to see who gets hot as the top teams in the world battle it out.

Can Liquid handle the pressure?

After taking down Astralis earlier in the year at the iBUYPOWER Masters IV event, Team Liquid look primed for a solid showing here despite the lofty expectations surrounding them and the level of competition they will face in Poland.

Liquid have a deep map pool which should give them an advantage during the early best-of-one matches. The addition of Stewie2K has opened up this squad in their minimal appearances, with his skill and versatility being a welcome addition to an already-loaded team.

However, Liquid have always been synonymous with choking under pressure, and there will be significant pressure coming their way in Katowice where they are 2nd favourites for the title at 4.940.

Twistzz is always the main player to watch for this team, given both his impressive consistency and ability to hit a skill ceiling that rivals the world’s best.

MIBR go back to the future

MIBR (11.180) were the team who lost Stewie2K, and they appear all in on making some early magic happen.

They have reverted to a previous line-up with felps and TACO coming in, although perhaps the most important acquisition is that of coach zews. His coaching style is incredibly exuberant at times, but his ability to control emotions and keep the team on track makes him one of the most respected individuals in the game.

colderza was always at his best with TACO alongside him, with TACO anchoring a site and coldzera having the freedom to make plays and even clean up should TACO falter.

While consistent form may not be present among the team’s players, MIBR are a side who could get hot and never cool down.

NRG have momentum

NRG Esports (15.240) came out of the Challengers Stage on fire. After failing to qualify for the last Major in London, NRG pulled out all the stops to perform well.

It has been no secret that NRG have been bootcamping for ages, practising as hard as they can and focusing fully on this event. They have always been well constructed as a five-man unit, with two more-supportive players in daps and FugLy, while the likes of Ethan (formerly nahtE), CeRq and Brehze carry the load of damage as the primary stars.

Brehze, in particular, was brilliant during the Challengers Stage, helping lead NRG to a 3-0 record.

NRG are expected to be particularly good within this Swiss System format, but it is worth remembering they have specifically struggled against Liquid, who they could face off against at some point.

Natus Vincere the wild card

The most difficult team to judge are Natus Vincere, who are the definition of Jekyll and Hyde.

s1mple remains far and away the best player in the world, and that alone can buy Na’Vi a win or two within the best-of-one matches, but best-of-threes will be more difficult.

electronic has not shown his superstar form of the past and the other members of the team generally fall short in this type of situation.

Na’Vi are the type of team who could win the tournament without dropping a single map – they are 13.200 to emerge victorious – or just as easily go out 0-3, and their early matches should be a massive indicator on how the entire event will play out.