Third Party Tournaments March 5, 2021

Retrospective of IEM Katowice 2021

IEM Katowice 2021 came out rather ambiguous and surprised the audience not only with its results but also with its low popularity among viewers. Even the final game between Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro turned out to be the least viewed event in all five years of the IEM Katowice championships. One cannot ignore the fact that this is the first championship that was held entirely online, which could also affect the audience's interest.

The Intel Extreme Masters Season XV – World Championship in CS:GO was held from February 16 to February 28, bringing together 24 teams, four of which represented the CIS (Virtus.pro, Natus Vincere, Gambit Esports, and Team Spirit). The total prize pool was $1 million. The first top 3 teams got $ 400,000, $180,000 and $80,000, respectively. 

IEM Katowice 2020 vs. IEM Katowice 2021

Natus Vincere came out on top at last year's IEM Katowice championship, although this can hardly be called a surprise. Na'Vi is a strong opponent with a reputation as a winner, and in the final of IEM Katowice 2020, the team successfully defeated the french team G2 Esports with a score of 3:0. On the way to the championship, «born to win» beat Team Liquid in the quarterfinals, Astralis in the semifinals, and G2 Esports in the final. The team's statistics looked impressive: on two out of three maps, Natus Vincere had complete superiority.

By the way, the title of the MVP of the tournament then went to Aleksandr «s1mple» Kostyliev from NaVi. On s1mple's list of personal achievements, this has become the tenth MVP award from HLTV.org. Earlier, Na'Vi had already won the championship title in 2010, albeit with a different line-up.


Photo credits: HLTV

2020 became a turning point for all public events, and IEM Katowice was no exception. Last year's matches of the final stage were already held with empty stands. Measures against the spread of coronavirus this year left the players at home altogether, completely transferring the championship to the online format.

How IEM Katowice views stata have changed since 2019

The IEM Katowice championship views statistics are constantly changing, and if you look up the last three years, you can highlight certain preferences of the esports community.

In 2019, for Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII – Katowice Major 2019 in CS:GO, the peak number of online viewers was 440.6 thousand users. Such interest was attracted by the meeting between Ninjas in Pajamas and FURIA Esports during the first round of New Challengers.

In 2020, the total number of users on stream views exceeded one million viewers. This figure became a record, entering the historical top-3, taking place after Katowice Major (1.2 million) and London Major (1.08 million). Of particular interest in the 2020 championship was the game between Na'Vi and G2 in the grand final.

In 2021, the number of views during peak hours was about 550 thousand online viewers. This was influenced by the overall roster of teams and finalists that were of little interest to the audience.

The general statistics of views of the grand finals of the last three years looks like this:

  • 2019 – ENCE vs Astralis – 1.2M;
  • 2020 – Na'Vi vs G2 esports – 1M;
  • 2021 – Gambit esports vs Virtus.pro – 417K.

If in previous years Na'Vi and Astralis reached the grand finals, then in 2021 Na'Vi's sudden defeat led to the grand finals for Gambit and Virtus.pro, which are not very popular in the esports community. In confirmation of this, it can be noted that the most-watched match was the confrontation between Na'Vi and Liquid, which gathered 596,586 viewers (which was the peak mark of the championship views).

Match details and teams

IEM Katowice 2021 had three stages: play-In, group stage, and the playoffs itself. The first stage showed the skills of 16 teams, it eliminated half of the teams that met with 8 more participants, who were previously divided into two groups based on the points scored.


Photo credits: Escharts
At the second stage of the championship, play-In, a double-elimination grid was used (players are eliminated after two defeats). The matches were played according to the best-of-1 principle, and the rest were best-of-3. According to the results of this stage of the championship, the three best teams from the group advanced to the playoffs of the tournament, after which the winners of each group immediately reached the semifinals.

The playoff stage was held in the single-elimination bracket in the best-of-3 format, while the grand final was in the best-of-5 format.

It was surprising that a whole galaxy of eminent teams suddenly dropped out even before the playoffs. Among them: FaZe, Cloud9, Fnatic, OG, Vitality, NiP, and EG. As already mentioned, this fact greatly influenced the views. The numbers would have been completely different, if Na'Vi or Astralis had reached the grand final, the number of people at the screens would have increased significantly. Let's talk a little more about the details of the championship.

The championship was a kind of triumph for the CIS because all three teams of the semi-final were from this region.

As for the most popular teams of the championship, it is not a surprise that the one and only Na'Vi was recognized as the winner of this category (the average number of viewers watching the match is 310 thousand). Two more teams that conquered the barrier of 200 thousand viewers are Team Liquid and Astralis (268 thousand and 236 thousand).

Teams from the CIS that did not receive the attention and love of the audience, nevertheless, received benefits differently: they attracted the attention of sponsors, which means that the number of invites will now increase. But there remains the question of the interest of the Western audience, to which they have yet to prove their competitiveness and importance.

Summary

The IEM Katowice 2021 Championship gave rich thought to the entire esports community. This is not only about unexpected winners, but also about the significant impact of the event format on the viewer. The organizers may have to think about a safe but still fun show in order not to lose the audience. Or will esports disciplines be completely reformatted and usher in a new era?