Third Party Tournaments March 8, 2021

IEM Katowice 2021: The Most Popular Teams

The IEM Katowice 2021 CS:GO tournament ended rather unexpectedly, showing the hidden potential of the Gambit Esports team, who took the main prize. It is noteworthy that in the quarterfinals, Gambit Esports defeated the beloved champions Natus Vincere (2:0). But these are not only amazing moments of the tournament that have left a lot of questions and food for thought to the esports community.

One of such hot topics is several teams from the CIS at once in the final. It all started with the Russian team Virtus.pro, who beat Team Liquid (2:0) in the semifinals. Earlier, Gambit won the match against Team Spirit. These victories brought two teams from the CIS to the grand final of the Major.

Then came the turn of victory from the «bears», who won against the Danes Astralis (2:1). After that, Gambit Esports had announced themselves, defeating the general favorites — Natus Vincere. Such turns of the tournament had a much greater impact than it might seem, but more on that later.

IEM Katowice 2021: New Times Are Coming

One of the main innovations of this year's tournament was its format: if in 2020 everyone was surprised by the empty stands in the grand final, this year the games were held from home. This has likely affected the popularity of the tournament among the audience because the action and emotions of the players are as important as the results of the grids. This tournament has become the least popular in the history of matches, for comparison, the peak number of viewers in 2021 barely exceeded 550 thousand, while in 2019 it was more than 1 million.

Another surprise was the entry into the final of four teams from the CIS, which is why the final was dubbed the CIS triumph. Of the popular english-speaking teams, only Team Liquid made it to the semifinals, while everyone's favorites Natus Vincere and Astralis were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Speaking about the national division of viewers, there were also some changes against the background of last year: the number of russian-speaking and english-speaking viewers decreased, while thanks to the streamer Gaules and the player FalleN, the share of Portuguese and Brazilians increased significantly.


Photo credit: ESL

The preferences of viewers from the CIS were mainly reduced to Na'Vi, so even at rather mediocre meetings of the team, there were bursts of interest from the fans.

As for the general statistics of popular matches, there was also a decline in interest closer to the grand final, since several popular teams did not even make the playoffs, among them: Fnatic, Cloud9, NiP, EG, and even Vitality. The greatest interest was expectedly aroused by the meeting between Na'Vi and Liquid, and it was interesting to users from all countries without exception. Ironically, the match between VP and Gambit turned out to be the least popular and demanded.

CIS triumph at IEM Katowice 2021

The strength and success of teams from the CIS can be explained both by the popularity of esports in the region, and the coherence of work within the teams, which have achieved certain victories and continue to hold positions in the same roster. So they were able to develop a high-quality map pool, against which many teams have nothing to oppose.

The most important favorites from the CIS in esports, as always, remain Na'Vi, and Alexander «s1mple» Kostylev in particular. Only two teams were able to overcome the 200 thousand people indicator — Team Liquid and Astralis. The list of teams from the CIS that reached the final includes Virtus.pro, Natus Vincere, Gambit Esports, and Team Spirit.

For a long time, the CIS was represented in esports mainly by the Na'Vi team, and they ascended the podium even before s1mple has appeared in the team. In 2017, another team, Gambit Esports, achieved the top spot in esports. It was then that they reached the playoffs of the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major and then won PGL Krakow altogether. After that, Gambit went through hard times and returned to the clip in 2019 with a new lineup. As for Team Spirit, their loss in the semifinals meant little, since this was preceded by enchanting victories over G2, BIG, Heroic, and even Astralis.


Photo credits: HLTV

Although Natus Vincere lost, one should not put an end to their skills and potential in general. The team has shown a stable game over a long period, so one defeat can hardly speak of a trend. Maybe the victory at BLAST influenced the favorite's loss, after which the guys relaxed. Besides, the human factor, in the form of subsidence of certain players, for example, Denis «electronic» Sharipov.

In recent years, the Virtus.Pro team has achieved considerable popularity. If in 2019 the team was considered mediocre and could not boast of outstanding achievements, by the end of 2020 Virtus.Pro broke into the top 10 of the HLTV rating, having received the approval of colleagues and fans.