ESL have announced the groups and initial matches for the IEM Katowice 2021 event, with 16 teams bracing for a chaotic 10 days of combat. The 16 teams include 8 direct invites and 8 who had to fight it out in the Katowice Play-ins. The 16 are now split into two well stacked groupings, which are;
Both groups have obvious underdogs, and teams that'll be saddled down with many expectations from fans.
Jumping in for a deeper look, Group B has the two best performing CIS teams as of late, Virtus.pro & Natus Vincere, as well as the new FaZe lineup which includes the former mousesports in-game leader Karrigan, hoping to bring his skills back to his old playground.
Group A has Astralis, who have been a constant threat for all Counter Strike teams since 2017, hopping in and out of the top 3 for going on 4 years now. Gambit & Spirit both flew past the Play-in stage looking strong, without needing to tire themselves out with any lower bracket plays, so they may be fresher faced than some of the other teams who had to play an extra match or two in the early stages of the tournament to qualify for this main event.
It's worth noting that, all 16 teams will spend four days fiercly fighting for a place in the playoffs. Group winners go straight to the semi-finals, and runners up & third place of each group will be entered to the first round bracket.
Here are the matches & schedule already announced at this early stage of the competition;
1100 Evil Geniuses vs Gambit
1100 G2 vs Spirit
1430 Astralis vs mousesports
1430 Heroic vs BIG
1800 Vitality vs OG
1800 FaZe vs Liquid
1100 FURIA vs NIP
1100 Natus Vincere vs Virtus.pro
All future matches will be determined from those initial match results, with Friday 19th having an extra 4 matches than just those noted above, an action packed weekend means Saturday & Sunday 20th & 21st sees 6 matches each, before a 4 day break is given to teams, before they come back for the quarter finals on Friday 26th, with the weekend of 27th & 28th seeing the semi finals & grand final.