IEM Katowice has brought us some great League of Legends moments in recent years, like xPeke's famous backdoor against SK Gaming. This year, eight teams from five different leagues will be competing in Poland as the domestic leagues in North America and Europe take a week off. Let's get into it.
How do I watch?
What's the schedule?
All times EST.
Friday, March 4 - Group A
- 6:00 AM: ESC Ever vs. TSM (Winner: ESC Ever)
- ~ 7:50 AM: Royal Never Give Up vs. Origen (Winner: Royal Never Give Up)
- ~ 9:10 AM: Group A Winners Match (Winner: Royal Never Give Up 1-0 ESC Ever)
- ~ 10:30 AM: Group A Elimination Match (Winner: Team SoloMid 2-1 Origen)
- ~ 1:50 PM: Group A Decider (Best of 3) (Winner: Team SoloMid 2-0 ESC Ever)
Saturday, March 5 - Group B
- 6:00 AM: SK Telecom T1 vs. Counter Logic Gaming (Winner: SK Telecom T1)
- ~ 7:50 AM: Qiao Gu Reapers vs. Fnatic (Winner: Qiao Gu Reapers)
- ~ 9:10 AM: Group B Winners Match (Winner: SK Telecom T1 1-0 Qiao Gu Reapers)
- ~ 10:30 AM: Group B Elimination Match (Winner: Fnatic 2-1 Counter Logic Gaming)
- ~ 1:50 PM: Group B Decider (Best of 3) (Winner: Fnatic 2-1 Qiao Gu Reapers)
Sunday, March 6 - Playoffs
- 6:00 AM: Semifinals #1 (Winner: SK Telecom T1 2-0 Team SoloMid)
- 9:30 AM: Semifinals #2 (Winner: Fnatic 2-1 Royal Never Give Up)
- 1:00 PM: Grand Finals (Winner: SK Telecom T1 3-0 Fnatic)
Two teams apiece from Korea, China, North America and Europe. Four teams earned entry via first- or second-place finishes at previous IEM events, while four received regional invites.
China: Royal Never Give Up and Qiao Gu Reapers. China's the only region sending its top two teams from the domestic standings to Katowice, as QG and RNG hold first place in Groups A and B of the LPL, respectively. After a disappointing showing at Worlds for LPL squads, this is a prime opportunity for an international victory.
Europe: Fnatic and Origen. The top two teams from the 2015 Summer Split in Europe, these two squads don't carry quite the same luster as last year. Both are a significant step behind the top European trio of G2, H2K and Vitality, and are currently hovering around .500 records. But there's still plenty of talent on both squads, led by Febiven and Rekkles on Fnatic and Origen's Zven/Mithy bottom lane.
Korea: ESC Ever and SKTelecom T1. ESC, a challenger team (second tier league) in Korea, earned its spot with a surprise win at IEM Cologne (following up a surprise Kespa Cup win the month before). SKT is the defending Worlds champion, but has struggled this split and is hoping for a strong Katowice showing to rebound.
North America: Counter Logic Gaming and Team SoloMid. Like Europe, North America does not get to send its best team (Immortals) to this event. But it does get to send CLG, the defending NA LCS champs and the team that just became the first to beat Immortals! Meanwhile, TSM's super roster is still taking time to gel, but a current fourth-place standing is nothing to scoff at.
Who is the favorite?
Probably SKT or QG Reapers, but it seems like a pretty wide-open field!
Which Western team has the best shot?
CLG. After a brief adjustment period that saw the defending NA champ replace both its starting marksman and mid laner, CLG is playing as well as any LCS squad currently. North American teams have not found an answer to Darshan's split-pushing pressure, and Aphromoo continues to hold the team together from the support position.
Which players should I watch out for?
Three of the best marksmen in the world: SKT's Bang, QG's Peco and Origen's Zven. Then there's SKT mid laner Faker, long considered the best League of Legends player in the World. CLG top laner Darshan is also having a very good season primarily as a split-pusher, and will look to pressure enemy teams with that strategy.