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Astralis, Fnatic and more to compete in CS:GO group A at IEM Katowice

Michael Moriarty
Contributing Editor
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The CS:GO IEM World Championship is upon the horizon, and twelve of the world's greatest CS:GO teams are set to be in attendance. With six teams placed in each round-robin group, there's a lot of CS to cover. We're taking a look at Group A today, featuring some of the strongest CS:GO sides of the past year. It's set to be explosive!

Astralis

The Major champions are back in action at the IEM World Championship, and looking to keep up an impressive top four run that stretches back into November. Having taken an unfortunate fall in the Semi-Finals at DreamHack Las Vegas to the side they met in the Major Final, Virtus.pro, they're looking to keep their run going. After going close at two IEM events before, in Season X, they'll be hoping to pass the second places and take the win. With the tactical master-class everyone knows g1ave can show, they could take the crown this event.

OpTic Gaming

The plucky Americans have lost their explosive run of form from the end of last year. After winning ELEAGUE Season 2 and then facing Astralis again in the ECS Season 2 Final, where they came second, it's not been the best for them. Winning only one match at the Major, their steam appeared to be out. Changes in personnel for DreamHack Las Vegas meant that they brought in experience IGL Hiko to try and turn the ship around, but so far no dice, heading out of their group after a defeat to North. With a bit more preparation time, and working with new coach peacemaker, could see them return to the form they had at the end of 2016.

FaZe Clan

The European mixture is back in action once again, and this time they're in a lineup they've been searching for. Bringing in NiKo after aizy left to North, they've now got one of the world's greatest players sat in their roster. After narrowly missing out on getting through the groups at DreamHack Las Vegas, they now have a chance to show the world what moves they can make with this new, fixed roster. The tactical skill that karrigan brings to the table is also important for how the young Bosnian plays, in order for this side to push for a deep tournament run.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

The once giants in NiP aren't at the level they once were. After their win at IEM Oakland in November, they went on a major slide. Quarter-Final finish at ELEAGUE Season 2 Finals was then followed by a memorable failure in the Major Qualifier. Taking time out of offline competition since then, their first tournament back was DreamHack Las Vegas. There, they made a Quarter-Final finish. Can the Ninjas make a comeback to their form of old, in order to claim all the CS:GO events of this IEM season?

Fnatic

Easily the greatest CS:GO team in history is back together. After splitting the side up into two parts, with the firepower being in two separate teams, the performance of either side was nowhere near their former heights. Now back together, can they achieve the heights they found in 2015? Their recent performance at DreamHack Las Vegas isn't a good sign, as they failed to get out of groups. But can they bring out a big performance to reclaim their IEM World Championship crown that they claimed this time last year?

Immortals

Brazil's second team are gearing up for their first offline appearance of the year, as they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Major and then a shock loss to compLexity in the DreamHack Las Vegas qualifier led them to miss that as well. But with a strong performance into qualifying for a spot at Katowice, the skill of newly transferred fnx was on show. With them still developing his place in the team and the time they've had to perfect, it should be a strong start to their new roster's life.

The World Championship kicks off on March 1st, where the top sides from each group will battle it out on the Spodek stage, for the main share of $250,000. With so much at stake, who'll be the top performing side? Make sure to follow IEM on Facebook and Twitter for highlights, updates and more live from Katowice!