ESL One Katowice 2019 kicks of on 19 February and there's $300,000 up for grabs!
ESL play a considerable role in the Dota 2 tournament world. Last circuit they were host to three valve sponsored majors and a valve minor totalling $3,400,000 in prize money.
This season they have another four scheduled, but so far lack the backing of valve and the Pro circuit points that comes with it. The events almost mirror last season, with the addition of the first ever Indian tournament replacing ESL One Genting.
This will be the second ESL One Katowice that’s hosted in Poland. The winners of ESL One Katowice 2018, Virtus.Pro are absent, instead performing at MDL Macau that has a schedule overlap with Katowice 2019. This has also caused a split in top tier teams, opening the door for other teams to compete on the international stage.
The group stages will be held from 19th to the 21st of February. Six teams per group will play a best of two in a round robin format. The top two teams move to the upper bracket and 3rd and 4th move to the lower bracket. The last two teams in a group are eliminated from the tournament.
The Main stage games take place from the 22nd to the 24th of February. They are played in the Polish Spodek Arena in a double elimination format. All games including the lower bracket games are best of three, with the grand finals being best of five.
The games will be played on 7.21b released just 2 days before the group stage games. It will be interesting to see the duration of the transitionary period for different teams, and whether their ability to adapt yields results for more experimental teams.
Group A Predictions
Secret and Gambit to the upper bracket.
OG and Forward Gaming to the lowers.
Mineski and For the Dream eliminated.
Group B Predictions
Fanatic and NIP to upper bracket.
Chaos and Team Aster to Lowers.
Complexity and Alliance eliminated.
Team Secret are currently the leaders of the tier 1 teams and with the other tier 1 teams absent from this tournament, Secret should make light work of the competition. Secret have posted strong performances since the inception of their new roster, and they looked completely dominant in the Chongqing major. With most of the previous meta being derivate of puppy’s drafting, they led the scene in patch 7.20. If they’re able to adapt to the new patch, I’d expect them to take the tournament.
Ninjas In Pyjamas have looked shaky in the new season, failing to qualify for the Chongqing major. The leadership of PPD has done little to iron out the team’s rampant inconsistencies. However, in the more recent patches, NIP has hit a string of form. Posting a great performance in the DreamLeague 11 qualifiers, beating Secret in a best of 3 and taking a 2nd place in the WePlay Valentine Madness event. Perhaps they can continue their run of form. Keep an eye on NiP.
Fanatic have continued their undisputed domination of the South East Asia region. They had an extremely good run at the Chongqing major, topping their group, eliminating Liquid and only dropped games against the Chinese teams Ehome and PSG.LGD. However, the lack of real top tier competition in their region may make them relatively green on the newer patches. The excitement the team brings along with Iceiceice, could see them threaten Team Secrets throne.
Gambit's their name and momentum is their game. While not possessing top tier players, christmas roster changes have breathed some new life into the team. The Russian team has recently performed surprisingly well in the European and CIS regions. Coming second at the Bucharest Minor, they barely missed out on a spot at the Chongqing major. They also played confidently in the WePlay Dota 2 valentine madness, winning the tournament convincingly against NIP. Having already played competitively on this patch, if they can keep the momentum going, they will be hard to stop.
Forward Gaming had a strong performance at the Dreamleague 11 qualifiers only dropping games to EG. FG unfortunately had a very tough group at the Chongqing Major, drawing both Secret and PSG.LGD, so one may be inclined to overlook their tied last place finish. With some big American names and solid performances in their own region, FG will be looking to claw at the ankles of some of the giants.
Alliance a once legendary team has been struggling to find form with their young roster. The team failed to make any impact at the Chongqing major coming joint last. They also put in a poor showing at the Dreamleague 11 qualifiers, failing to post a win against lesser teams. They then missed out on their last chance to qualify for the Dreamleague major, failing to qualify for the Starladder minor feed in. If their current performances is anything to go by, I can't see Alliance doing any damage at Katowice.
Chaos Esports is a rebrand of the once great Digital Chaos. The team is currently the Ex-Pain Gaming roster who have led the South American scene for some time. SA teams have a reputation for their unpredictable nature. Often adept at “cheese” strategies, it gives them the chance to surprise and take games off even the top teams. Chaos have had a rough start to the season with poor placing at the Chongqing major, and difficulty qualifying due to the grouping of north and south America in some qualifiers. Nevertheless, they're always a smokey for an upset.
OG, The International champions have suffered a strong case of the TI winners curse after Ana took a break post-TI. Fresh from dominating the world, OG have struggled to find their footing amongst a new meta and new players. They were a no-show for the Chongqing Major and then got blitzed in the Bucharest minor. The team had further disappointments after failing to qualify for the Dreamleague Major. They are however The International 8 winners so you would be a fool to write them off.
For the Dream were lucky to take the spot of Ehome, after Ehome forfeited their spot to play in MDL Macau instead. For the Dream are a new roster formed in late November and have had no international showings and no familiar faces. I’m not sure what they will bring to the table, it may suprise, but most likely will underwhelm.
Mineski has been underperforming considering the roster at their disposal. It's sheer luck that they are even in the tournament as they were given a qualifier spot after TNC and the runners up of the qualifier had issues with visa’s and schedule clashes. Mineski are probably not going to cause many headaches for their opposition.
Complexity have been a virtual no show this season. They haven’t had an international showing in almost 4 months. Even with an updated roster in November of last year, the team still failed to qualify for both Majors and even the Bucharest Minor. It will be interesting to see them back in action, but I'm not expecting miracles.
Aster has some familiar high-level Chinese players in the form of Sylar, Fenrir and BoBoka. The issue is, they received the direct invite before the Chongqing Major. They have since bombed out last at the major and got rolled in the DreamLeague Season 11 Chinese qualifiers. This has brought about many questions as to whether they still can perform at an international level.