The Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice was an event flooded with the best teams and talent that Europe had to offer. With three of Europe’s best rosters attending the tournament, including the reigning European champions G2 eSports, this was Europe’s chance to leave their mark on an international event. As expected, fans were left disappointed once again.
The set-up couldn’t have been much better for a European victory. Featuring Europe’s best teams and Korea’s worst, there was truly only one title contender left for the Europeans to overcome after China’s Edward Gaming pulled out a week before the tournament. That contender was the LMS’s Flash Wolves, a team who had previously lost to the Unicorn’s of Love at IEM Oakland and who hailed from a region with little competition outside themselves.
In a significant display of dominance, Flash Wolves would go on to beat each European team in turn to claim the IEM Championship trophy. Pitched against Europe’s best, Flash Wolves seemingly outperformed each European team in almost every lane, suppressing the famous European Mid laners and what had been crowned the best Western bot lane in G2 eSports’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningson and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez.
For the majority of the tournament, Flash Wolves were able to lay claim to the two best players on the rift: Jungler Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan and Mid laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang. Consistently gaining early kills and advantages, Flash Wolves’ macro movements propelled them forwards into the mid-game and created multiple quick victories.
When behind, smart play from the Flash Wolves elongated games and created comeback opportunities. Although G2’s Luka “Perkz” Perković was ultimately crowned the tournament’s most valuable player, both Karsa and Maple would have been more deserving recipients.
Though G2 finally won out in an international series, you could hardly call IEM Katowice an impressive showing. With both Unicorns of Love and G2 losing early in the tournament, PerkZ and co. were able to survive an elimination series between the two and secure a spot in the semi-finals. After dropping the first game to ROX Tigers (Korea’s 8th place team) G2 eSports pulled out a 2-1 victory… only to be swept in the Finals by Flash Wolves.
IEM Katowice did not tell us anything we did not already know, rather it reinforced our preconceived notions of a weak European League of Legends eSports scene, where the strength of the region has often been inflated in recent history. As troubling as IEM was for European fans, the real concern should be directed at the foreshadowing this event may provide for the Mid-Season Invitational and this year’s World Championships. After a year of disappointing finishes, the top European teams have given us no reason to believe future results will be any different.