IEM Katowice 2020 – When the pandemic hit esports too


It has been exactly a year since the first major CS:GO tournament was played offline. Even then it became clear that the scene was facing major changes. Even though a lot of the players are not playing regularly and only feel like real pros if they are using CS:GO smurf accounts watching the real pros in tournaments is a great event for everybody.

The Intel Extreme Masters number 14 started on February 24, 2020 in Katowice. Only a few days earlier it was announced that the tournament would take place without spectators. Many fans hoped to still be able to participate with their tickets.

But with a rapidly spreading virus, that was declared irresponsible. It was the beginning of the corona pandemic, which was to be both a blessing and a curse for the esports world.

The hope of a return to normal

Back then, nobody knew that the virus would turn the world upside down for more than a year and kill many lives. Shortly after it became known that no spectators were allowed, the organizer ESL announced that the tickets for the 2021 tournament would be valid. As we know today, there has not been a large CS event offline since then. As the ESL has now announced, it will stay that way until summer.

The entire esports scene had to switch to online tournaments. While that went relatively smoothly in Counter-Strike, there were other games that had bigger issues with the switch. There is, for example, Dota 2, where it remains unclear what will actually become of The International, the largest esports tournament in the world. What to do with the $ 40 million in the prize pool? What should become of the scene, which is almost entirely based on this annual tournament?

But there are also developers who have been able to adapt: ​​Despite the pandemic, the League of Legends Worlds 2020 was celebrated. A clever bubble system, through which players and employees could be protected, guaranteed a smooth offline tournament, at the end of which DAMWON Gaming could be chosen as the winner.

A divided world

CS:GO is somewhere between the two extremes. Attempts to implement the bubble system have so far failed. The most important tournaments could take place online and were divided into several regions.

For most of the European teams that wasn’t a big problem. The competition was the same as before, the ping did not exceed critical limits. But it was different in North America, where there are a small number of top teams that hardly felt challenged.

Everything new in the new year?

It seems that all the teams have slowly got used to the situation. The IEM Katowice 2021 will also take place online. Some of the favorites have come a long way, at the same time, there were big surprises with the CIS teams Gambit, Virtus.Pro and Team Spirit.

While the Spodek Arena would probably not have gotten out of its shake in such a scenario, it is now up to the casters to convey the tension to the fans. We are still looking forward to the final of the IEM Katowice 2021 and to all online tournaments that may follow. Because esport lives on forever.



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