ESL has announced that one of the annual favourites in the CSGO calendar, Intel Extreme Masters: Katowice will take place without a live audience, as happened this year, due to the pandemic.
In a tweet, ESL said the competition will be in a studio environment, and not at its regular home in Katowice, the Spodek Arena. Michal Blicharz, who manages Intel Extreme Masters also tweeted, saying "It's a great shame to go without an audience two years running, but it is what it is." He also suggested they'll be back to Spodek Arena as soon as permitted, which hopefully will be in 2022.
This years run of IEM Katowice was the first major disappointment of the pandemic in the CSGO scene. When at the last moment, the local authority of Katowice revoked the competitions licence to hold a public event to protect the city from any unintended consequences. This meant the competition occured in Spodek, minus the audience, giving the playoffs an eerie feel all around.
Already confirmed for IEM Katowice, are the following teams; FURIA, Astralis, Heroic, Vitality, Na'Vi, Evil Geniuses, FaZe & G2 heading straight to groups, and Illuminar, Complexity, Liquid, Renegades, OG, TYLOO, BOOM, Chaos & Fnati at play-ins. With another 6 wildcard invites, and the winner of EPEC Winter 2020 still to be determined.
The prize pool is expected to remain at $1M, and the dates of 16th to 28th February to remain accurate. Follow up tweets suggest that hopes are for a LAN event, but naturally it is very difficult to know for certain until much closer to the dates. It is also possible the confirmed team of Chaos may be replaced, given recently announced plans to discontinue that CSGO group by its owners.
Hopefully the pandemic will be rangled under control in time for the second of the annual favourites, ESL One Cologne, which is due to take place in Germany in July, 2020.