It is the dream of every professional CS:GO player to qualify and play at a Major, and the recently-concluded IEM Katowice 2019 Minor saw ten teams and fifty players make their wildest dreams come true.
But, as hard as these teams tried, not all of them are made equal. Some are inevitably better than others, while others harbor far more untapped potential.
Below, we ranked the ten teams who qualified via the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor.
10. Vici Gaming
— 13th-16th place at ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals
Kudos to Vici Gaming for beating notable teams like Team Envy (at least with Finn ‘karrigan‘ Andersen on it) and North at the play-ins stage, especially the latter, who most had all but expected would qualify for the Katowice Major one way or another.
Composed of players of what could be considered a Chinese “supersteam”, Vici Gaming’s biggest asset is that other teams will have little to no knowledge about them, a fact that they used against North. However, with most teams spending weeks to prepare for the event, Vici Gaming will find every strategy in their book dissected, and that can be hard to adjust to for a team with relatively little experience against international competition.
9. Grayhound Gaming
— 3rd-4th place at ESEA Season 29: Global Challenge
— 2nd place at ESL Pro League Season 8: Oceania
If there was a metric for raw talent and teamplay, Grayhound Gaming would definitely be ranked higher. But, there isn’t, and for all the relative potential that this team has, they haven’t really had much to show. Not to mention, none of their players have any Major experience, which makes an already uphill climb even steeper for the Australia-based squad.
With more than two weeks to prepare for the clash in Katowice, Grayhound Gaming will have to use every opportunity that they can to close the gap between them and the rest of the teams that they’ll be facing.
8. Team Winstrike
— 3rd place at Rivalry.gg Rising Stars
Team Winstrike were just a tad too inconsistent to qualify via the CIS Minor, but at the very least, they found a way to play at what could be considered their “best” form at the play-ins stage with Jan ‘wayLander‘ Rahkonen and Kirill ‘Bombl4‘ Mikhailov leading the way for the squad.
The 17-year-old, David ‘norb3r7‘ Danielyan, is the most inconsistent of the squad, with his performance often coming and going. If he can pick up his play while both wayLander and Bombl4 are also on point, Team Winstrike should hold the most potential for upset of all the teams who qualified via the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor.
7. FURIA eSports
You know that a squad is talented when a world-renowed team like MiBR was willing to pay a huge some of money to poach one of your players. Had FURIA eSports asked for a realistic amount of money for Kaike ‘kscerato‘ Cerato, FURIA eSports wouldn’t have been here and their superstar rifler could’ve been rubbing shoulders with the likes of Marcelo ‘coldzera‘ David.
But, alas, that didn’t happen, and at the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor, we saw a glimpse of what FURIA eSports could do, and they could pose a serious problem for anyone they end up facing in Katowice.
Unfortunately, for all their player’s collective talent, FURIA eSports are severely lacking in experience, and because that’s not changing anytime soon, we can only hope that they don’t let the moment get to them once the Major starts.
6. Team Spirit
— 17th-19th place at FACEIT London Major
— 2nd place at ESEA Season 27 MDL Global Challenge
This might just be too high of a ranking for Team Spirit, especially when you consider the strength (or the lack thereof) of their opponents at the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor and how they seemed to struggle at times.
But, while most teams here recently went through a significant roster change in recent months, Team Spirit stood spat and there’s some value to be had for a team that sticks together despite some rough showings at various tournaments.
Team Spirit flashed some serious potential throughout 2018 and with Victor ‘somedieyoung‘ Orudzhev setting some lofty goals for himself this 2019 — he reportedly wants to make it to the HLTV Top 20 — there’s no better time time to start making a case than a strong run at the Katowice Major.
— 5th-6th place at ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals
— 5th-6th place at IEM Sydney 2018
— 5th-8th place at StarSeries i-League Season 4
— 9th-12th place at ESL One Cologne 2018
Of the teams who qualified via the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor, Renegades boast one of the most well-rounded rosters, who also have had plenty of experience playing against international competitions in what would be considered as “big events”. Sure, they weren’t wins, but playing against some of the top teams in the world is a win on its own, even if it doesn’t really translate to a deep run.
Renegades may have spent far too long as the biggest fish in the small Oceania pond, but with Jay ‘azz‘ Trgillgas and Sean ‘Gratisfaction‘ Kaiwai on the roster, they might just have the right mix of young talent and experience to finally swim with the sharks.
— 1st place at Bucharest Gaming Week Invitational
— 1st place at MSI Gaming Arena
— 3rd-4th place at EPICENTER 2018
There exists a noticeable gap between AVANGAR and other CIS teams — and a gulf between AVANGAR and Natus Vincere, the No. 1 CIS team by a huge margin — and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
With a 3rd-4th place finish at EPICENTER 2018 sandwiched between wins at Bucharest Gaming Week Invitational and MSI Gaming Arena, AVANGAR have proven themselves capable of going all the way and taking out opposition considered better than they are.
3. NRG Esports
— 1st place at CS Summit 3
— 1st place at IEM Shanghai 2018
— 2nd place at Supernova CSGO Malta
— 3rd place at StarSeries i-League Season 6
— 3rd place at ESL One New York 2018
For a team who made so many deep runs (and won a couple of tournaments), you’d think that NRG Esports didn’t belong here, but they do, and it’s because of their failure to show up when it counts the most.
The memory of failing to qualify for both the Majors at Boston and London is still likely fresh on the minds of most of NRG Esports and they’ll be looking to redeem themselves in a couple of weeks.
Can or will they do it? Maybe. Maybe not.
NRG Esports have a pretty interesting record against similarly skilled teams and those ranked above them. Considering that they’re set to meet a couple of those during the New Challengers stage of the Katowice Major, you can’t really blame us for having a couple of reservations.
2. Team Vitality
— 1st place at DreamHack Open Atlanta 2018
We might be ranking Team Vitality a bit too high here, but there’s really no taking away how well they performed against their competition at the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor.
Valiance, mousesports, and OpTic Gaming make one hell of a trio, and Team Vitality absolutely crushed them. Of course, we saw the relatively new squad run out of steam eventually, as they started to show their lack of relative LAN experience together once they found themselves in close games. But, the improvement they’ve shown in just a couple of months is scary, and there’s no telling just how well this team will do once they’ve spent more time practicing together.
If Team Vitality continue improving at this rate, the French CS:GO fans will have another squad to cheer for deep into the Katowice Major.
1. ENCE eSports
— 1st place at StarLadder i-League Season 6
— 1st place at DreamHack Open Winter 2018
— 7th-8th place at EPICENTER 2018
— 7th-8th place at ESL One Cologne 2018
Growth has come relatively easy for the Finnish team, who’s doing better than ever with Jere ‘sergej‘ Salo leading the way.
The 16-year-old wunderkind has been a revelation for ENCE eSports, topping the team in both K/D and ratings in their wins at the StarLadder i-League Season 6 and DreamHack Open Winter 2018. The former is especially noteworthy as they finished way ahead of teams such as Mousesports, North, and NRG Esports, ultimately escaping with a 3-2 win over Vega Squadron in the Grand Finals.
Judging from their current form, it somehow feels like it’s only a matter of time before ENCE eSports bursts into the top 10, if not the top 5. But, even if they fall short, it’s only fair to expect ENCE eSports tpull off a couple of upsets here and there and turn a lot of heads at the Katowice Major.
What do you think of our rankings for the IEM Katowice 2019 Minor teams? Do you think we did the teams justice? Which team do you think we ranked too high? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.