IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage Recap — Astralis and Team Liquid Look to Continue Rivalry

The IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage is over, and it’s time for the final leg of the competition — the New Champions stage where eight teams will be competing in front of live audiences at the Spodek Arena in Katowice for a shot at winning the first CS:GO Major of 2019.

With more best-of-three series’ compared to previous Majors, the IEM Katowice Major 2019 has, so far, gone well.

All in all, there’ve been fewer upsets, and the favoured teams have won more often than not. But, that doesn’t mean we weren’t treated to a few interesting games and unique matchups. In fact, even though the current format doesn’t lend itself too well to one-off upsets, there were still teams who managed to pull off an unlikely series win or two.

Renegades Set the IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage on Fire

IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage

Although Aaron “AZR” Ward was nowhere near as impactful as he was in the previous stage, he was, nevertheless, a constant positive presence for Renegades as he helped his team make it to the playoffs. (ESL / Adela Sznajde)

Most people didn’t really think Renegades would make it this far and for good reason — they were are a relatively weak team coming from one of the weaker regions. Renegades had every reason to falter and go 0-3.

But, they didn’t.

After going 3-0 during the New Challengers Stage, Renegades showed the rest of the CS:GO world that they would not back down. Although they eventually dropped their series against Astralis, it wasn’t before they pulled off an upset win in OT in Game 1 on Mirage.

Moving on, the usual suspects moved on without much of a problem. Astralis and Team Liquid will look to continue their year-long rivalry after going 3-0 during the IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage. They now find themselves on opposing sides of the playoffs bracket — both teams won’t meet until the grand finals — and MiBR, as well as Natus Vincere, were just as impressive with 3-1 records.

Overall, however, it was nice seeing small but real teams stepping it up in the form of Renegades and to some extent, ENCE eSports.

Speaking of MiBR, we’re still not sold yet on whether they’re title contenders already. No title contender should lose 16-3 to any squad. EVER. But their new lineup is starting to show a lot of promise, and while they may not be the favourites to win the Major, it wouldn’t really come off as a surprise either if they end up making it all the way to at least the grand finals, especially with Marcelo ‘coldzera‘ David playing the way that he has.

It’s Back to the Drawing Board for NRG and BIG

IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage

Long time IGL, Fatih ‘gob b’ Dayik, will have to make a number of changes to BIG’s strats if they are to improve on their showing at the IEM Katowice Major. (ESL / Timo VERDEIL)

BIG felt small at the IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage. They were supposed to be a better team now that Can ‘XANTARES‘ Dörtkardeş was on the roster. But, as it turns out, they’re more of a work-in-progress than most people thought.

Ditto for NRG Esports, who rumor has it, are already trying to acquire former Boston Major winner, Tarik ‘tarik‘ Celik.

Both teams faced some high expectations heading into the IEM Katowice Major New Legends Stage, and while they’re not the first to buckle under the intense pressure playing at Major puts on teams, you expect more than an 0-3 showing from teams of their caliber.

Having said that, it’s now back to the drawing board for NRG eSports and BIG as they gear up for the rest of 2019.

Who Were the Best Performers at the IEM Katowice New Legends Stage?

IEM Katowice New Major New Legends Stage

While all eyes are on a potential Team Liquid and Astralis rematch in the grand finals, we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss MiBR and their new lineup. (MIBR)

For the nth tournament in the row, Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz leads all players with a 1.40 rating in five maps, with the HLTV’s #1 player of 2018, Oleksandr, ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev, settling for third with a 1.31 rating in six maps.

Nestled in between HLTV’s CS:GO players of 2018 is Marcelo ‘coldzera‘ David, who’s quietly having his best tournament in a while with a 1.38 rating in five maps as he leads the tournament in kills per round (0.92) and damage per round (96.2). It’s been a while since we’ve seen coldzera take over games, but with a new lineup in tow and a reliable support-style bombsite anchor in Epitácio ‘TACO‘ de Melo, it somehow feels like this is just the beginning.

Egor ‘flamie‘ Vasilyev finds himself in the Top 10 with a 1.23 rating in six maps as he does his best to give s1mple a proper partner with Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov having a relatively mellow tournament so far.

Another standout performer of the tournament, albeit for a team that failed to advance to the playoffs bracket, is Mathieu ‘ZywOo‘ Herbaut, the AWPer of Team Vitality. Although he wasn’t able to successfully lead his team to a deeper run, you can’t really fault him for his efforts. He led all players during the New Legends stage in total opening kills with 42 and was just second to his teammate, Dan ‘apEX‘ Madesclaire, in total kills at 185.

What’s Next after the IEM Katowice New Legends Stage?

With the playoffs bracket now set, the eight remaining teams will now square off in the single-elimination New Champions stage, in Spodek Arena from February 28 to March 3, 2019.

Astralis have so far met our earlier expectations and are likely headed for their sixth straight grand final in a row. The question likely on everyone’s minds now is, who they’re going to face. Narrative-wise, most would probably prefer Team Liquid, as the once-lopsided rivalry between these two top-tier CS:GO teams are finally starting to look like an even matchup as the new-look Team Liquid are starting to gain ground.

Of course, we can’t just quickly dismiss the other squads. If there’s one thing that the Major have proven so far, it’s that we shouldn’t be too quick to pencil teams in, nor count them out.

What do you think was the biggest takeaway of the IEM Katowice New Legends stage? Do you think we’re going to see Team Liquid match up against Astralis in the grand finals? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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