After taking a closer look at the teams from group A, it’s now time to check out the group of Virtus.pro and way more title winning teams. Starting on Thursday, we will get to see the local heroes taking on double Major winners SK Gaming, ESL One New York champions Natus Vincere, ESL Pro League winners Cloud9 as well as North and Heroic. Who can stand out in this packed group and make it to play on stage in Spodek Arena?
The Brazilians are heading up this explosive group, and looking to improve on their slump of recent months. After internal disagreements led to changes, with them bringing in fox as a stand-in for a limited time, their final roster is secured. Bringing in 20-year old felps from Immortals, a roster move that was on the cards for many a month, they now have a full squad of talent and power. After a strong display with their new player at DreamHack Las Vegas last weekend, coming second after a close series with Virtus.pro. With Fallen and co. not having won an IEM event since it's return to the Counter-Strike series, they're hoping they can improve on their finishing from this time last year, where they were overcome by Fnatic.
The big boys of Poland are back at it again, and it seems like there's nothing to stop them. The longest standing roster in CS:GO, they've been through slumps and come out the other side more or less unscathed. Being one of the teams with the strongest form coming into Katowice, a stronghold of their support, they're looking to be steady favourites. Casting revenge over Major champions Astralis and then displacing SK Gaming in the final at DreamHack Las Vegas, they're surely on winning form. Will they be able to bring it coming into Katowice and claim their first IEM title of CS:GO, hoping to perform better than their 5/6th finish last year?
Denmark's second side are next up in the Red Group, and they're looking to keep a run of improving form going. After a QF finish at the Major, they moved onto a Semi-Final placing at the recent DreamHack Las Vegas, where they lost to SK Gaming. A slow but steady improvement from the Danes is currently on the cards as they once again attempt to overtake their brethren in Astralis, a feat they managed in October last year. They're also seeing themselves return to a full Danish line-up, as the squad brings in aizy to replace RUBINO, who stood down.
The Americans are here. Their current roster hasn't been in the best of form since October last year, where they picked up the ESL Pro League Season 4 title, and are looking for redemption. A failure to qualify for the Major meant their first display this year was at DreamHack Las Vegas, where a group performance against NiP was close but not good enough to advance from their group. It's certainly going to be an uphill battle for the team as they try to bring their North American form to the international stage.
Na`Vi are saddling up for some strong game play as they attempt to shrug off the issues they've been having recently. A difficult battle against their rivals in SK led them to dropping out of DreamHack Las Vegas in the quarter-finals, which just adds to the list of issues they've been having recently. Not picking up a tournament win since ESL One New York in October, they've only breached the top four of a tournament once, at EPICENTER. A strong showing from their stars in s1mple and flamie at the same time are needed for this team to aggressively show they are worthy of taking the IEM crown.
Finally, it's Denmark's third team – Heroic. One of two teams at this group who weren't in attendance at the Major (Cloud9 being the other) and the only one not at DreamHack Las Vegas, they've had time to develop their play over the past months. Their last LAN attendance was at DreamHack Leipzig, where a top four finish was placed onto them. Recently bringing in young AWP'er JUGi into the lineup from Tricked rounds off their roster, as they both cement their spot in Denmark, and try to break into the position North currently holds.
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!