IEM Katowice CS:GO World Championship – Day 1
Intel Extreme Masters XIV – World Championship is set to begin this Monday, February 24, featuring some of the best CS:GO teams in the world, who will duke it out at one of the biggest esports events of the history.
IEM Katowice will mark the first “Big Event” of the year and it will field 16 CS:GO teams from all corners of the world, who will duke it out for the lion’s share of US $500,000 and the prestigious title of the Katowice champions. In all six iterations of this event, only three teams have ever hoisted the trophy – Astralis, Fnatic and Virtus.pro, all of whom will be present at the event. While the ambitions to repeat their success will be there, the road to the summit won’t be a cakewalk.
IEM Katowice 2020 will feature all of the top-10 teams based on global rankings, which is something that wasn’t seen in any of the big events throughout 2019, including both Majors, where there were at most nine out of the top 10 teams in attendance. What’s more, IEM Katowice 2020 will also be without a single Brasillian team for the first time in five years, seeing how MiBR, INTZ and FURIA all failed to make it out of the North American qualifiers.
There are many reasons to be excited about the upcoming event and a plethora of exciting fixtures on the schedule. In this betting preview, we will take a look at the opening six matches and provide our take on how the teams stack up against each other.
Astralis vs Cloud9
The best team in 2018 and 2019, Astralis, opened their 2020 season with two disappointing loses against Complexity and Natus Vincere at BLAST Premier: Spring 2020 Regular Season.
In the opening match at BLAST event, Astralis dropped the ball against Complexity, who swept them 2-0, with a commanding 16-11 win on Dust2 and 16-12 on Vertigo. In their meeting with Natus Vincere, Astralis got off to a strong start and won on Train, but failed to deliver on the last two maps. The Danes got outclassed on Nuke (9-16) and suffered a close 14-16 defeat on Inferno. It was not the performance you would expect from Astralis, and we can probably attribute those losses to the season just starting and the teams not being fully in their element.
Cloud9 earned their spot at IEM Katowice via the NA Closed Qualifier, where they played a total of four matches and dropped only two maps out of 11 played (one was awarded to them in the finals as the came from the upper bracket). They won 2-0 over Riot Squad and INTZ, 2-1 against Complexity and 3-1 in the finals against MIBR. The two wins over Complexity and MIBR are way more impressive than the first two, but considering that was on an online event, you can’t rate them as high as you would if they were played in a proper LAN environment.
Cloud9 attended the DreamHack Open Leipzig about a month ago, a proper LAN tournament this time, and while you have to give them some credit for beating the new Virtus.pro roster, their two defeats against Renegades confirm their status as a »nothing special« Tier 2 team.
There is only one way this match can go and it is the Astralis way. 2-0 for Astralis is expected and anything else would be a huge upset.
Prediction: Astralis 2-0 Cloud9
Betting Pick: Astralis -1.50 Maps, 1.427 Pinnacle
Alternative Betting Pick: Under 2.50 Maps, 1.398 Pinnacle
Ninjas In Pyjamas vs Team Vitality
Ninjas in Pyjamas started their 2020 camping with a 2-0 loss against rejuvenated FaZe Clan, a team they beat without any issues at the last year’s BLAST finals. They followed their loss with a 2-1 win over MIBR, but they could not reproduce their efforts against the NA giants Team Liquid, who eliminated them out of the tournament with a fairly competitive clean sweep, 16-10 on Vertigo and 19-17 on Mirage.
F0rest has left the team to join his old teammates in the new roster under the Dignitas banner, with nawwk joining Ninjas in Pyjamas as his replacement. Björn “THREAT” Pers has returned back to his coaching position and considering this team is young and quite »moldable«, Ninjas in Pyjamas have the potential to grow into one of the top 10 teams. THREAT is probably one of the best Swedish coaches and this is definitely the team to follow in the future.
Vitality opened the new season with a convincing 2-0 win against Natus Vincere but fell short against Complexity. It was a humiliating 2-0 loss that sparked some interesting comments from their IGL. In short, Alex indicated that the playstyle of Complexity is not sustainable and he is probably right. Complexity does remind me somewhat of FURIA, which is another team with a bombastic entry into the Top 10, but shortly drifted back into the top-20 realm. The French lost the next match 2-0 against Natus Vincere, a team that got a confidence boost from their triumph over Astralis.
Vitality are heading into the match priced around 1.40, which is about right. They are the rightful favorites and even if there is still some rust and doubt, this is still early season and they should have no problems beating a team such as Ninjas in Pyjamas.
These two teams played a total of three maps in 2019 and surprisingly Ninjas in Pyjamas won all three of them, 16-10 on Dust2 in Cologne 2019 and 2-0 in the ESL Pro League Season 10. Two players moved since these two results, so it is probably not wise to put much of importance on these results. 2-0 for Team Vitality is an expected result, but I would not touch the -1.50 Map handicap this early in the season, because we cannot fully understand what to expect out of the new NIP project.
Prediction: Ninjas in Pyjamas 0 – 2 Team Vitality
Betting Pick: Team Vitality to win, 1.467 Pinnacle
In-Play Suggestion: Back Team Vitality to win the match if they lose the first map
Alternative Betting Pick: /
Natus Vincere vs Faze
Probably the most exciting match of the Day 1, especially if FaZe manage to carry over their form from the BLAST tournament, therefore making this match a massive coin-toss in terms of betting on a winner.
FaZe got their IEM Katowice ticket via the Closed Qualifier, where they bested Arcly 2-0 and ENCE 2-1. Losing a map against ENCE is not something you should do these days if you want to compete for the top places, but then again, it was an online match and pretty much anything can happen online.
A lot of hype around FaZe now, 2-0 against NIP and 2x 2-0 against Team Liquid at BLAST are quite respectable results. Still, there were a lot of upsets at the first LAN tournament in 2020 and most of these teams will fall off when all the top teams wake up from their player break slumber.
Natus Vincere lost their first match at the BLAST tournament against Team Vitality 2-0, but found their footing and beat the number one team in the world, Astralis. The win gave them a massive morale boost, which helped them stomp Team Vitality 2-0 in a rematch. They played the final match against Complexity, won 2-0 and successfully qualified for the next part of the BLAST league.
There are no recent matches between the exact two rosters that will play in this match, the closest one being the match back in November 2019 at the Blast Pro Series Copenhagen, where NaVi lost 9-16, but they were still playing with the Guardian then.
Navi are known to sometimes start the tournament slowly (like the old VP back in the day) and backing FaZe Clan to win the first map doesn’t look like a bad bet, which leads to our in-play predictions. Should NaVi win the first map, back Faze Clan to win the match and vice versa; back NaVi to win the match if they lose the first map.
Faze are coming into the match as favorites, priced around 1.70, which overrates them a bit. There is a big IF they managed to perform like they did at the BLAST and even then Natus Vincere are not a team you can just rollover. Value Bet on Natus Vincere!
Prediction: Natus Vincere 2 – 1 Faze Clan
Betting Pick 1: Natus Vincere to win, 2.21 Pinnacle
Betting Pick 2: Over 2.50 Goals, 2.11 Pinnacle
In-Play Suggestion 1: Back Faze to win the match if they lose the first map
In-Play Suggestion 2: Back NaVi to win the match if they lose the first map
Alternative Betting Pick: FaZe Clan to win Map 1, 1.769
Renegades vs Fnatic
Renegades cruised through the IEM Katowice Oceania Open Qualifier with four wins and only one lost map out of nine played. Again, it was an online tournament so it is not wise to put much importance on these matches.
They reached the Grand Finals at the DreamHack Open Leipzig 2020, but fell short against the home team, BIG Clan; 5-16 on Mirage and 12-16 on Dust2. They also lost 8-16 against BIG in the group stage. Their wins came from beating 2x Could9 and an impressive 2-1 victory over MAD Lions.
This is a match that will be probably closer than the odds suggest. There were a lot of upsets at the recent BLAST tournament and with Fnatic yet to play and official LAN match this one could prove a tricky one for the Swedes. Renegades (previously known as Grayhound Gaming) were one of the teams that were quite successful in their games when the top teams were either jetlagged or tired in their opening matches. The recent removal of Oliver “DickStacy” Tierney is definitely a positive, as he was objectively the worst player in their previous team.
Bet on Renegades to win at least one map, odds of around 1.80 are definitely worth it! Expect a close match with Fnatic eventually coming ahead in the end. If you are looking for big odds, 3.40 on Renegades is not a bad bet either, especially as they are probably the only underdog that can get a win on Day 1.
Prediction: Renegades 1 – 2 Fnatic
Betting Pick: Renegades +1.50 Maps, 1.775 Pinnacle
Alternative Betting Pick: Over 2.50 Maps, 2.34 Pinnacle
100 Thieves vs G2 Esports
These two teams met about two weeks ago and although G2 came out ahead, their 2-0 win does not tell the whole story. In their meeting, 100 Thieves held the lead, but threw it all away on both maps, turning a game which the Australian squad should have won into a match to forget. The game ended with G2 pulling away on both Dust2 (16-13) and Vertigo (16-12).
Expect 100 Thieves to bounce back and take revenge for their humiliating defeat or at very least put up enough resistance to make this fixture an entertaining one. In terms of what to expect for the final score will show, 2-1 for either team seems like the most reasonable outcome and 2.17 for an over 2.50 maps looks like a great bet.
Odds of 1.675 on G2 overrates them quite a bit, as they are definitely not as good as the odds imply – value on 100 Thieves.
Prediction: 100 Thieves 2 – 1 G2 Esports
Betting Pick: Over 2.50 Maps, 2.19 Pinnacle
Alternative Betting Pick: 100 Thieves to win, 2.48 Pinnacle
Mousesports vs TyLoo
This match has the same characteristics as the Astralis vs Cloud9 one, featuring a top-3 team facing against a huge underdog.
Mousesports did not attend the BLAST League, but they did appear at the ICE Challenge 2020 in London and what an amazing an easy tournament win that was for them. Two clean sweeps (2-0) against Mad Lions, 2-0 against Virtus Pro and a constable 3-1 win against Natus Vincere in the finals was all that was needed to hoist the trophy for the European-mix. Should they continue to play with this form and somehow Astralis continue with their shaky display, mousesports have a legitimate chance to win this tournament or at least make it to the finals.
There is no point talking about TyLoo too much here. They recently lost their best player BnTeT to Gen.G and are here only because ViCi gaming forfeited their spot as they were unable to secure their visas, which is why I highly doubt TyLoo had any real preparation for this tournament.
As the odds suggest, this should be an easy 2-0 for the Europeans and anything else would be a huge surprise.
Prediction: Mousesports 2 – 0 Tyloo
Betting Pick: Mousesports -1.50 Maps, 1.411 Pinnacle
Alternative Betting Pick: Under 2.50 Maps, 1.343 Pinnacle