IEM Katowice 2019 Closed Qualifiers Preview And Predictions

After finishing all the regional qualifiers from around the world, we already know the 24 teams that will compete in the IEM Katowice 2019 . The first major of this 2019 will have the not insignificant figure of one million dollars in cash prizes.

In the past weeks, several teams around the world in different regions competed in the minor qualifiers of  IEM Katowice 2019, with the intention of participating in the great major of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which will begin in February, and in which a million dollars will be distributed from the prize pool.

In the IEM Katowice 2019 only 24 teams will participate, and at the start there were already 10 classified teams while the rest made their way from the qualifiers.

Will 2019 still be the year of Astralis?

As mentioned, there are already several teams that have secured their participation in the February Major, and these are Natus Vincere, MiBR, Team Liquid, CompLexity Gaming, BIG, HellRaisers, FaZe Clan, NiP, FNATIC, G2 Esports, Vega Squadron, Cloud9 , TyLoo , and of course the great favorite and unanimously proclaimed as the best team of 2018, Astralis , which will be feared by everyone.

The team that managed to secure qualification a few days ago are: ENCE eSports, Team Vitality, NRG Esports, Team Spirit, AVANGAR, Grayhound Gaming, Renegades, FURIA Esports and Winstrike Team.

The Chinese ViCi team was the last team to get the pass to the Intel Extreme Masters after defeating North 2-0 in the final qualifier.

We will see some of the best team in the  competitive world of CS: GO at the IEM Katowice 2019, since the grand final will be held on March 3. This championship counts for the Intel Grand Slam, the prize won by Astralis in 2018.

IEM Katowice 2019 will adopt a renewed format

The ten teams classified through the Minors plus the teams that were between the ninth and fourteenth place in the FACEIT Major will compete in a phase called Challengers Stage. This stage will be played in Swiss, the best of three (BO3) form  and the top eight will qualify for the next phase, where teams wait for the Legends Stage.

In this second phase, formed by 16 teams, eight of them will be classified for the final phase called Championship Stage. The objective of this renewed format is to make the competition fairer, where teams must never base their success on matches in the best of one format.

The days in which the different phases of the Major will be played are the following:

⇒ Challengers Stage: will be held at the ESL studios and will take place in Poland between February 13 and 17.

⇒ Legends Stage: will be held between February 20 and 24 at the ICC Katowice.

⇒ Champions Stage: will be played between February 28 and March 3 at the Spodek Arena.

So will Astralis continue its dominance at the Grand Slam events, or will they slip up? Like they did a couple of weeks ago at the IBUYPOWER Masters. One time will tell.

iBUYPOWER Masters 2019 Preview And Predictions

The iBUYPOWER Masters 2019 will be the first major Counter-Strike tournament of 2019 and will feature a some of the best teams in the competitive world of CS:GO. The competition takes place in Los Angeles, United States, on January 19 and 20. The prize fund of the competition will be $ 200 thousand where the lion’s share of the prize pool $ 100,000 will be awarded to the winner of the competition. Of the top 10 ranked teams Astralis, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid and Fnatic will be competing in LA.

Two Titles In December For Astralis

2018 has been an unstoppable for Astralis. In the month of December, they continued to assert their dominance where they managed to lift a couple of titles. In the mid week of December, they achieved an incredible feat in the Danish town of Odense, in the finals of the eighth season of the ESL Pro League, a triumph against Team Liquid that also made them the first winners of the Intel Grand Slam.

For the second time in the history of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a team has managed to win the two seasons of the ESL Pro League. Fnatic did it in 2015 and in 2018 the feat was achieved by Astralis after beating Team Liquid in the final by 3 to 1 , with a lineup that worked like a Swiss clock and didn’t give options to its rivals. Again,  Nicolai ‘ dev1ce ‘ Reedtz was the MVP of the competition, an achievement he is used to as the player with the most awards of this category in the history of the Valve shooter.

Then a week later, Astralis beat Natus Vincere in the final tournament of the BLAST Pro Series: Lisbon 2018. The meeting ended with a score of 2: 1.  This was the 10th title for Astralis in 2018. In addition, the team became the first winner of the Intel Grand Slam and received $ 1 million. So, with such formidable stats we bid Astralis to be the favourites of the competition.

Look into Brazil

Brazil will be represented by Luminosity Gaming, which recently replaced yeL by boltz . The competition marks the debut of Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip for Liquid. The former MIBR player was involved in an exchange deal where the North American team gave zews and TACO to the Brazilian team.

AdreN is 5th?

After much anticipation, a few hours ago FaZe has confirmed the announcement of the 5th man. As AdreN, ex-Gambit player, has joined one of the most successful teams in the competitive landscape. The new coach of the team is Yanko YNk Paunovich.

Rumors about signing AdreN appeared in late December. Many fans in the community took the news of the transfer as a joke. However, now the player himself has confirmed his transition. They will be aiming for a strong finish at iBUYPOWER Masters 2019.

Odds on bet365

  • Astralis – 1.66
  • Team Liquid – 6.00
  • FaZe Clan – 7.50
  • Fnatic – 15.00
  • CompLexity Gaming – 17.00
  • Cloud9 – 17.00
  • Luminosity Gaming – 21.00
  • Ghost Gaming – 34.00

CSGO – DreamHack Open Winter 2018 Preview

Sweden is all set to host one of the most anticipated competitions of 2018, The DreamHack Open Winter 2018 CS: GO. In a matter of day we will be seeing some of the most talented lineups of CS:GO in the West.

$100, 000 dollars will be on the line, form which the winner will get the lion’s share. Jönköping, Sweden will be hosting the DreamHack tournament from 30th November to 2nd December. Six teams have been invited by the organizers while two teams have made their way through the regional qualifiers. Bravado have emerged from the NA qualifiers, while from the European qualifiers, we will see x6tence Galaxy. One of the interesting facts is that the lineup of Bravado is based on all South African team but the teams still based in West and choses to compete in NA tournaments. Meanwhile x6tence Galaxy made their way to the main stage by beating one of the invited teams so don’t underestimate the composure of the European side.

Now let’s have a look into the format of the competition. The first stage will be the group stage, where the eight competing teams have been divided into two groups, consisting of four team in each of them. The matches of the first day, the opening match and the winner’s matches are set to follow the Best-of-one format. While the elimination and the tiebreaker matches will be played in the Best-of-three matches. Only two teams from each group will progress to the playoffs stage including the grand finale of the competition which will follow the traditional Best-of-three single elimination format.

Let’s have a look at some of the teams that are the favourites to win the competition:

ENCE eSports

Ence eSports is one of the favourites to lift the title and the have all the right to do so. Since the mid of 2018, the team have been performing quite impressively.  In 2018 they won three titles, ASUS ROG Finnish Championship 2018, StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 6 and Assembly GameXpo 2018. They even finished Runner ups in the DreamHack Open Montreal 2018. So it time for them to take redemption of the grand final defeat.

OpTiC Gaming

The other candidate for the title is Optic Gaming. The Danish lineup hosts some of the most talented players of the game. However, the team has not lived up to its expectations. The biggest achievement of the side this year is finishing at 2nd place at the cs_summit 3. They are rated as the favourites in this competition, because it hosts emerging teams and since Optic is a well experienced team, they will be looking to beat the rookies and make their way to the grand finale.


The last true candidate for the title in our opinion is Heroic. Since on the minor level the team has shown impressive results all year long. They won the TOYOTA Master CS:GO Bangkok 2018 and Games Clash Masters 2018. The team includes one of the most experienced players of the game, Friberg who will surely be looking to lift another title this year.

Odds on

  • ENCE – 3.75
  • OpTic – 4.5
  • LDLC – 4.5
  • Heroic – 7.5
  • complexity – 8.5
  • G2 – 9
  • x6tence Galaxy – 15
  • Bravado – 30

Hellraisers – AVANGAR, EPICENTER 2018 prediction

These two organizations will face off against each other in the quarter-final match of Epicenter 2018. I think that AVANGAR does not really know how in the world did they pass the group. On the other hand, Hellraisers are going strong in this tournament, as they only lost to Natus Vincere in a close match.


This organization is rated as the 11th best team in the world, all based on their recent performances. They are playing on an outstanding level so far in this tournament, and they truly deserve to be in quarter-finals of Epicenter 2018.

They enjoy playing a mixture of passive and aggressive style, which can cause a lot of troubles for teams who do not play much against Hellraisers. Furthermore, most of their plays are based on the individual achievements of ISAA and woxic, who are a very strong duo. The only reason Hellraisers are not in semi-finals to is their early challenge, Natus Vincere. They were even able to take the map out of them, but s1mple and his crew are too big of a bit to chew so early in the tournament.


There is not much to say about this team. Somehow they passed the group, as they were able to beat Ninjas in Pyjamas. I do not think that they know how they pulled it, but the fact is they have a chance to advance to semi-finals. They are lacking when it comes to firepower, while ISAA and woxic are fired up. Furthermore, they were annihilated by team Liquid, and that says a lot of the level they are on.


Hellraisers and AVANGAR play against each other for a total of 4 times. AVANGAR was not able to get a single win versus them. It is clear that Hellraisers enjoy playing against AVANGAR’s style of play, as they got all 4 wins against them. Hellraisers won on Cache, Dust 2, Train, and Overpass. On the other hand, the only map AVANGAR can compete on is Mirage, and they have not played on it.

Furthermore, Hellraisers have deeper map pool than their opponents. I think Hellraisers will ban Mirage, as they do not feel comfortable on it, and they will probably go for Overpass as their map pick. I can see AVANGAR going for Dust 2, as they won a lot of their matches there, but mostly against lower tiered teams.


I think that Hellraisers are one division above AVANGAR in every way possible. Mainly, they have better individuals, not just in woxic and ISAA, but bondik and ANGE1 as well. On the other hand, AVANGAR definitely lacks firepower and skill to compete versus those guys.

Furthermore, map pool will cause a lot of problems for AVANGAR, as they are capable of playing 2 maps in total, and there is no way that they are going to play both of those maps tomorrow versus Hellraisers.

To conclude, Hellraisers are a better team, they have better individuals, and a deeper map pool. I can not see in what way is AVANGAR able to endanger Hellraisers in this match-up.

HELLRAISERS TO WIN  – 1.38@ggbet


Another exciting match at EPICENTER 2018. This time group B winners’ match will decide who will go to the semi-finals, and who look for their trophy shot through the harder stage, quarter-finals.


Kazakhstani based CS:GO organization. They are not so known in the higher tiers of Counter-Strike:Global Offensive. Somehow they were able to defeat Swedish legends Ninjas in Pyjamas. They were able to edge out NiP in three maps, as buster and Jame stepped up massively. Avangar has been on fire lately. They stormed past team Spirit and Imperial in the Epicenter 2018 CIS qualifiers, and meanwhile, they even defeated Kinguin. At the moment they are on 5 win streak, and they are looking really solid.


A North American organization, rated as the second-best team in the world. They have been on fire lately, but somehow they always fall short once they have to play against reigning kings, Astralis. Liquid did not have to play qualifiers, as they were invited to the tournament by the hosts, unlike their opponents who had to battle it out to come this far. Their best player, Twistzz and NAF are playing on a different level, and there is no one able to stop them from producing frags. Their team play is on another level as well. Trade frags are always there, utility usage is on point, everything seems really on time for this team.


These two teams played against each other only 4 times. The North American organization got the best of AVANGAR 3 times, while AVANGAR won only once. AVANGAR was able to win on Mirage, and, they have also pushed Liquid to the limit on the same map, as Liquid edged out the win with 19-15. They also played on Dust 2, where Liquid stomped them. Liquid has also beaten them on Cache.

When it comes to Liquid’s map pool, it is pretty straightforward. They are comfortable on Cache, Inferno, and Overpass, but they are struggling on Dust 2 and Inferno, and lastly, their Mirage is average. On the other hand,  AVANGAR has really strong Mirage and Dust 2. They are average on Train, Cache, and Overpass, and their Inferno is not really good.


Liquid has stronger pool once compared to AVANGAR, except Mirage, which I think will be a permaban for North Americans. Furthermore, they are more skilled than their opponents in every way possible. They have better individuals, better strategies, and overall their team cohesion is great. I was not able to find anything that stands out for AVANGAR, and I can not see them winning a map in this match-up. In my book, this is an easy 2-0 for Liquid.

LIQUID TO WIN 2-0 – 1.75@ggbet

FaZe Clan – Natus Vincere, EPICENTER 2018 prediction

These two contenders will face off in the group A winner’s match. This is a very important match for both FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere, as the winner will advance to the semi-finals, while the loser will have to play quarter-finals.


So far in EPICENTER 2018, FaZe played one game, a total of 3 maps. Their opponents were Finish organization Ence eSports. Ence has been on fire lately as 4 out of 5 matches prior to this tournament. However, they were stomped by FaZe, mainly because of their individual skill. Another important thing in the last FaZe’s match is the defeat on their map pick, Inferno, where they played really bad. As I mentioned above, FaZe Clan is primarily focused on winning aim duels, and that can get them through most of the lower tiered teams, but once they face a real challenge, they struggle.


The Ukranian organization has always been on top of the CS:GO scene. At the moment they are a force to be reckoned with. Natus Vincere showed how good they are versus upcoming roster Hellraisers, as they beat them in 3 maps.

Most of their gameplay is based on individual skill, but they have Zeus, a very capable in-game leader who can read many different scenarios that his opponents will present him with. At the moment, Natus Vincere seems more dominant than FaZe Clan, as FaZe has been in a slump for a while now.


Needless to say that these two teams faced each other a lot in the past. A total of 21 matches was played between them, and Natus Vincere has the slight edge against FaZe Clan. The Ukranian organization won 13 times while FaZe Clan managed to win 8 times.

Furthermore, out of their last 7 meetings, Natus Vincere won all 7 of them. They have been dominating FaZe Clan on Overpass, Inferno, and Mirage.

If we are to compare their map pools we could see a lot of similarities between these two titans. The only sold map for FaZe in the last 3 months is Train. They have been average on Mirage, and really bad on Overpass, and Inferno. On the other hand, Natus Vincere has been thriving on any of the maps they played. Their best maps are definitely Dust 2 and Mirage. They have been average on Inferno and Train, and their Nuke is pretty bad.


Even though this is a match-up between two Major contenders, I do not think that is true. On the paper both of these teams are strong, but in reality, we can see that FaZe Clan is really struggling. They simply can not get going, as they even tried to change in-game leader.

I also feel like Natus Vincere has a stronger map pool once compared to FaZe Clan, except Nuke, but I think that will be a permaban for Ukrainians. Furthermore, Natus Vincere also has mad fraggers on their roster, in the likes of electronic and s1mple. If they are on the level they are capable of being, I think that FaZe Clan stands no chance against Natus Vincere. I got Na’Vi in this one.


NATUS VINCERE TO WIN – 1.71@unibet

Spirit-Fragsters, ESEA MDL Season 29 Europe

These two teams will face off in the ESEA MDL Season 29 Europe. Both of these teams are not as popular as they belong to the tier 2 level. However, there are a couple of reasons why I fancy this match-up.


This Russian CS:GO organization has been around for a while now. Most of their roster is based on experienced players, such as DavCost and Dima. Furthermore, they enjoy playing loose and aggressive style of Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, and their strategy is mainly based on them getting picks and following up with an execute on one of the bomb sites. Their best player somedieyoung has to put a lot of effort into every game they play because he is the guy who has to get impact kills for team Spirit. But he has not been thrilling as of late, if he struggles, the entire team will struggle as well, just because they are heavily relying on him.


Another Danish organization that enjoys playing structured, methodic and slow style of CS:GO. Furthermore, they mostly play as a unite, as they always go in pairs to trade each other out. And as you know trades will always favor the Terrorist side, and Fragsters are an excellent T-side team. Furthermore, if they run into a brick wall, there is always refrezh to get them out. He is a prospect for the future, a very talented player who will always step up once called upon, the only thing he is lacking is experience, which he will get over time.


These two teams played against each other 2 times. Both times, Danish organization came out on top. First on Mirage, where they dominated team Spirit, secondly on Dust 2, a real nail-biter, which ended up with 16-14 scoreline. So far in ESEA MDL Season 29 Europe, team Spirit played a total of 11 games, as they won 4 and lost 7. On the other hand, Fragsters only played 6 games. They won 4 and lost 2.

If we are to compare their round differences we can easily see that team Spirit is getting dominated. They have a huge minus when it comes to round difference, a total of -34, while Fragsters have a +9 difference. Fragsters only lost to LDLC(1st place at the moment), and versus team Flow, a 4rh ranked team in the league. On the other hand, team Spirit lost to numerous bad teams, and it is clear as day that they are in a slump, as their best player is struggling.


Once I have compared these two teams, I can see a huge potential in Fragster. They have a better map pool, they are playing much better in the league, and they are playing as a team, not as individuals. However, team Spirit is always relying on one guy to get them the win, as they severely lack firepower. In my personal opinion, Fragsters will dominate team Spirit today.


VITALITY – SPROUT, Europe Minor Open Qualifier 1 – IEM Katowice 2019

As most of you know, Vitality is a new formed French roster, basically a super team. They have been formed not even a month ago, and they are already terrorizing their opponents. Vitality opponent’s for today’s match is going to be German roster Sprout. A  team whos form is mostly hot and cold, and they are very unpredictable.



As I mentioned above, this is a newly formed team, who has to play all the minor qualifiers in order to attend the Major. They have some of the best French players in their roster, and one of the biggest CS:GO prospect in 2018, Zywoo. They are also filled with experienced players such as NBK, Apex, Happy, and RpK. At the moment, this is probably the best French Counter-Strike:Global Offensive team. However, they have to prove themselves against the best teams out there. I do not think that there is a team in this Minor Qualifiers who is capable to win aim duels against these guys, as they are just so much better than the competition in the Minor Qualifiers.



This German roster is filled with veterans, who have enormous experience. They have been in good form lately, as they have 4 out 5 wins in their last 5 matches. But, mostly against lower tiered teams. They rely heavily on their executions and game plan, as they are not the best when it comes to firepower. However, they are certainly able to deliver, as it has been proven in the past, they managed to beat some of the best teams in the world. However, they do not know anything about the newly formed French roster. They have no clue about their strategy, play style or anything similar, and there is always a Zywoo factor, a guy who will just annihilate you.



Both of the teams are in pretty good shape, as they both have 4 wins out of their last 5 matches. However, Sprout played versus Vitality not so long ago, in the DreamHack Open Atalanta qualifiers, and they were dominated, as they lost the match, 2-0. Even worse, they only managed to win 15 rounds throughout both the maps. Furthermore, their best player, Zywoo, did not even had to be at his best.


When it comes to the map pools, there is not much to say about Vitality’s veto. They are just out aiming their opponents on all of the maps, with an exception of Mirage, where they were dominated by Optic Gaming. All the other maps are a safe pick for Vitality. On the other hand, Sprout has a very limited map pool. Their Mirage, Dust 2, and Train are very bad as of late. They are average on Cache, and they have a solid Nuke and Inferno. I could easily see this match-up ending on Cache.



There is not much to conclude about this match-up. Vitality is simply so much better than German squad. They will out aim them on any map, as they are marching towards that Major spot.


VITALITY TO WIN – 1.30@betway

G2 – FaZe Clan, ECS SEASON 6 Europe

Another ECS Season 6 Europe match is in front of us. G2 will face off against FaZe Clan. Both of these teams have been in a slump lately, and this is the match where one of these two teams will have to step up.



Ever since shox demanded a roster switch, and SmithZz and Ex6TenZ were brought into the squad to replace NBK and Apex, things did not go as planned for French roster. They were not able to win a single tournament with this line-up, and something will probably have to change, or their main AWPer, and best player, could actually leave. G2 is trying to base their game plan on a structured plan, that will eventually lead to an execute on one of the sites. However, they really lack firepower, because SmithZz and Ex6TenZ are kind of old school type of player, they are not really a match for future prospects.


FaZe Clan

There is a lot of going on in and around FaZe Clan. There are rumors about upcoming roster changes, that would suit them. Ever since Niko took over the in-game leading role, karrigan lost his spot in the team. The main question is, what can karrigan offer to the team if he is not being an in-game leader anymore. Not much in the terms of firepower. The team is in a very big slump at the moment, and they have to start grinding. FaZe tends to play an aggressive, loose style of CS:GO. If they gain momentum, they can stump everyone, as they have proven that in the past.



G2 and FaZe Clan faced each other a lot, 26 times to be more exact. FaZe came up victorious 20 times, which say a lot about this match-up, while G2 only won 6 times. As we all know, they will face off on Inferno, which was a decent map for both of these teams. Between themselves, they played Inferno 5 times. G2 won 3 times, while FaZe managed to edge out 2 victories versus French roster. In their last meeting on Inferno, FaZe Clan got dominated by KennyS alone, who had 30 kills in 25 rounds. Inferno is a hard map for an AWPer because there are so many angles to cover, but this is KennyS, the best AWP player in the world.



Both of these teams are decent on Inferno, however, just because of how good KennyS played in their last match on this particular map I would favor G2 to win this. FaZe and G2 are both in a slump, changing your in-game leader can affect a team, especially a superstar team, where everyone wants to play their own game, without any plan or strategy. Even though it may seem that FaZe enjoys playing versus G2(20-6 head-to-head), I do not think that they are comfortable against French roster on Inferno. To conclude, both of the teams are in pretty bad form, but I think that calls and rotations called by Niko will give a lot of free kills to KennyS.

G2 TO WIN INFERNO – 2.95@betway


The legendary team, Virtus.Pro will play in the opener versus 5POWER, a Chinese based organization. 5POWER is kind of an unknown fact, as they have never participated in a similar tournament. Both of the teams are out of form lately, and there have been roster changes happening lately, mainly in Polish roster.



There is not much to say about this team, at least of what is left of it. 3 of their 5 players either retired or switched organizations, but PashaBiceps, and Neo stayed. Their latest additions snatchie and morelz have been brought in to restore their legacy, but they have not shown much. Virtus.Pro enjoys playing slow and patient rounds, however, they also combine it with aggression. For most of tier 1 teams, they are a read book, but for a lower tiered team like 5POWER, they are probably too big of a cliff to climb.



As I mentioned above, there is not much to say about this Chinese roster. However, they have been very active lately. Let’s take 20.10.2018 as an example. They played a total of 11 maps that day, which is crazy. Furthermore, if they are competing so much, they barely have any time to practice their strategies and prepare for upcoming matches, and I can see them struggle in this match-up.



These two teams faced each other twice so far, both times, Virtus.Pro was able to edge out a win. However, the Chinese squad did bring it close, both of the times. The first time, they lost in a 16-14 thriller, while the second match had to go to overtime.


If we are to compare their map pools, we could see a lot of differences and similarities. Lately, Virtus.Pro has been decent on Inferno, Dust 2, and Train, but they are really bad Cache, and their Mirage is not on the adequate level as well. On the other hand, 5POWER is able to perform really good on Mirage, Dust 2, and Inferno. Cache, Overpass, and Train are not their best picks, as they are avoiding those maps for most of the time. In the end, 5POWER has a decent Nuke, but this is mainly Polish permaban.



Even though both of these teams have similar map pools, I would give a slight edge to the Polish roster. They have been on stage for a long time now, PashaBiceps and NEO probably have more LAN experience then entire 5POWER roster combined. Furthermore, Virtus.Pro has always been playing versus some of the best teams in the world, which I can not say about 5POWER. Asian CS:GO scene is not on a European level, and I could see them struggle versus Virtus.Pro. To conclude, Virtus.Pro has a similar map pool when compared to 5POWER, so they can not be surprised with the map pick, and they are also more skilled than their Chinese opponents. I got Virtus.Pro in my books.