The final stretch of the Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII - Katowice Major 2019 is upon us as the New Champions Stage will begin today at the Spodek Arena.
8 steams stood strong among the 24 participants in a bloodbath that started over 2 weeks ago. Usual suspects have made their way towards the final leg of the Major but new ones also emerged as they work on their respective Cinderella runs.
The festivities will begin with Natus Vincere taking on Faze Clan – arguably one of the better quarterfinal pairs in the single elimination bracket. Faze Clan were in dilemma prior to the beginning of the Majors with one man down until they added Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev as a stand in. The new lineup then faced a 1-2 threat at the New Challengers Stage but managed to claw their way back 3-2 in exchange of kicking out former Major winners Cloud9.
Navi meanwhile saw a steady performance with a 3-1 card – only losing to Team Liquid. What makes things interesting for their quarterfinal bout is a recent HLTV interview from in game leader Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko stating that a top-eight finish at the Major would be a "decent result" for the team. Regardless, the team is looking to be on shape with their decent performance so far and it can only be proven if they take the win against the all-European squad.
Following them will be Team Liquid and ENCE Esports. The all-Finnish squad will be tested immediately by none other than the 2nd best team as per world rankings in Liquid. The Aleksi "allu" Jalli led squad came all the way from the European Minors. From being a dominant force at the Minors and the New Challengers stage, ENCE saw themselves in a 0-2 hole before rallying with three straight BO3 wins to book the last seat of the Major’s culmination.
For Liquid though, all things are operating normally as they swept the New Legends Stage 3-0 along with rivals Astralis and they kept their status as one of the heavy favorites for the Major title by doing so. This match will be a match between experience and newcomers as ENCE never had a player who made it to a playoff of a Major with the exception of allu.
The matches for MIBR versus Renegades and Astralis versus Ninjas in Pyjamas will be played a day after the first two series.
Renegades will come as a dark horse of the tournament after stellar runs all the way from the Asia Minor – not to mention that they only dropped a single match whole tournament long and that was against Astralis themselves. The Australians are also the lone team in the tournament that managed to take off a map against the defending Champions. Surpassing expectations from fans and analysts while making a history of their own, Aaron "AZR" Ward’s boys are sure to be an interesting sight as they take on the all-Brazilian MIBR group that brought together the all-star lineup of the 2017 SK Gaming.
The return of the Ninjas will wrap up the quarterfinals but immediately facing Astralis won’t be easy – just like the majority of their campaign in Poland. The Swedes started rough at the first stage with a 3-2 record against lower-tier competition. Entering New Legends, the group went on another shaky venture but still managed to pull off a 2-1 win over Vitality to finish with another 3-2 record. This will be the first time that NIP will claim a Legends status since MLG Columbus 2016.