The list of participants in the first top tournament of 2023 is finally set. During the play-in phase, everyone was surprised by the exit of FURIA, as well as the advance of IHC and Complexity: such surprises are what we love about this game. After the 16 participants were divided into groups, it was time for the first predictions for the main stage of the IEM Katowice 2023. Here is a list of the key intrigues of the spring main event in the material of Telecom Asia Sport.
Last chance for oSee
Rumors about finding a replacement for the American sniper of the Liquids are becoming more and more frequent in the news. Even deko, who decided to stay at 1WIN, was the subject of discussions just recently. Many top-transfers take place right after failures at big tournaments: the American organization signed YEKINDAR after the exit from home IEM Dallas 2022.
There is no more margin for error for Josh Ohm: being the sniper of a tier-1 team with a rating of 0.98 is a crime that junior, oskar, GuardiaN had also committed back in their time. None of them returned to the top level, so oSee will have to do his best in Katowice.
Cloud9 shows some progress
While the transfers of npl, Buzz, and k0nfig were controversial, the Russian team apparently made no mistakes with Buster. The play-in stage went smoothly despite their fierce rivals. After only losing one map to ENCE, Cloud9 made it to the main stage from the upper bracket. Group A will be a real challenge for the new squad, with Natus Vincere, G2, FaZe, and Spirit among their opponents. Depending on the results, there is a chance to get closer to most of the listed titans of the international rankings.
Of course, no one in Cloud9 will draw harsh conclusions about the benefits of the transfer based on their place in Katowice. On the other hand, a possible successful start will set new limits for the team, which they will try to reach already in the Paris Major.
G2 moves to the top 1 of the world
Apart from the group stage of the BLAST Premier, we can say that the current world champion is G2. The team will go to Poland as the defender of this title, so the burden of responsibility on HooXi and company is high. The team passed the above-mentioned Spring Groups with flying colors and there's no reason to believe that anything will hold them back at the IEM Katowice 2023.
There is a chance that in one week NiKo, huNter- and m0NESY will get the chance to avenge last year's defeat in the final and lift the legendary trophy. Notably absent from the current G2 roster is jks, who crushed NiKo's 2022 title hopes as a stand-in for FaZe.
Will FaZe keep the IEM Katowice trophy?
Speaking of last year's winners, it's worth mentioning the return of rain. The community is divided on this event: some celebrate the team's success with replacements and hint at the Norwegian's dismissal, while others believe in the return of the former stability. Either way, FaZe hasn't seen a major transfer in a while (the last one was ropz), and as Cloud9's experience shows, sometimes a fresh perspective is needed to refresh the game.
Looking at the tournament from this point of view, IEM Katowice 2023 will not only be a test for the rain, but also for the whole team. Probably the result in Poland will determine the need for changes before the summer break.
Headtr1ck is no longer the main mystery for the "ninjas"
Daniil Valitov was unlucky to find himself in a team that continues to rebuild even after the signing of the young talent. The firing of hampus turned out to be a big surprise for everyone, and an even bigger surprise was the signing of k0nfig for the vacant spot. With this lineup, Ninjas in Pyjamas sailed through the play-in phase, taking out both MIBR and the more dangerous Spirit. Still, we have to remember the well-known "NiP factor", when the team has a good game after the transfer, but quickly starts to decline. That's why we can't predict a high position after a good play-in.
The thing that makes this sequence of events more pleasing is the individual performance of the Ukrainian sniper, who made it to the top of the team with a 2.0 rating within a month. If the current roster is the final one for the 2023 season, there is a chance for a slow strengthening of their position in the world top ranks.
KaiR0N- will make another tier-1 debut
We can say that after the replacement of n0rb3r7, the Outsiders team lost a bit of continuity and the status of the current major champion. The lineup with KaiR0N- is already being treated very differently, and given that they skipped the play-in stage, they seem to be the main "dark horse" in Katowice. The results can either improve due to an easier group or fail due to the newcomer's adaptation to the team. There's no middle ground, it's all about our perception.
Despite all the nuances, the Outsiders are currently the fifth team in the world, and the experts expect them to at least make the playoffs. Fnatic will be the first test for the newcomers: The match will take place on February 5th at 14:30 GMT+3.