With the completion of IEM Global Challenge, Intel Extreme Masters has announced the invites to complete the play-in stage invite list.

The invites are based upon the ESL World Ranking standings, at the time of announcement.

This means that those invited are Virtus.pro, Gambit, Cloud9, mousesports, Spirit & BIG.

They will join the teams who earnt their place through the ESL Pro Tour, and related competitions. They are TYLOO, Liquid, BOOM, Chaos, Complexity, fnatic, OG, Illuminar & Renegades. It is worth noting of course, that the placement of Chaos may change come next year, as announced plans see Chaos possibly being left behind in 2020, as their owning company plan to disband the team.

The play-in will be a hotly contested event, occuring over a tightly scheduled two day event, February 16th & 17th. With 16 teams in attendance, there is only one team left to be decided, which will be the winner of the ESL European Championship, which will occur in mid-January. This will be fought between eight teams, which are LDLC, MAESTRO, Elites, Sangal, KINGZZZ, Endpoint & Movistar Riders. The final spot in this contest will be the winner of the Meisterschaft competition, which won't be known until shortly before the kick off of the European Championship.

Once the play-in is complete, the top eight will be drawn into the main Katowice group stage, which occurs immediately after play-ins, between 18th & 21st February. FaZe, G2, Astralis, Vitality, Natus Vincere, FURIA, Heroic & Evil Geniuses are already qualified for the group stage, waiting in the wings to meet their extra eight opponents blocking their path to victory.

You can read the relevant tweet from the IEM twitter account here.

Much like this year, next years Intel Extreme Masters: Katowice will occur without an audience, being hosted in a studio environment. Despite the lack of extra revenue from paying audiences and their usually plenty purchases of official merchandise at the arena, the prize pool remains firm at the $1,000,000 previously promised.