2017’s Intel Extreme Masters Katowice marks the fifth year in a row that ESL have hosted an international LAN event in Poland. The city has played host to some of the greatest teams and dynasties Counter-Strike has ever known; every game played in the Spodek Arena are played in the shadow of CS:GO’s most legendary names. With this in mind, it’s worthwhile to look back at all the previous tournaments held by ESL in Katowice, and look at who are the best sides to ever grace Poland with their presence.
It should be noted that both EMS One Katowice: 2014, and IEM Katowice 2015 were both majors and as such, a greater significance is placed on the teams results who competed in them. Also, the tournament format at Katowice has changed a couple of times, and the Bo1 round robin groups at the last two Katowice tournaments affected some of the standings.
5. IEM Katowice 2015: Ninjas in Pyjamas
The first entry on the list is the only entry from a team who did not end up winning the tournament in Katowice. NiP lost to Fnatic in the Grand Finals, playing the Swedes in a nail-bitingly close 2-1 Bo3. This was NiP's first tournament with allu - who replaced the well performing Maikelele. Their instant 'click' as a team saw them beat the likes of TSM and nV in the quarterfinals and semi-finals respectively, taking out two dark horses to win the event. No other team on this list came more out of left field to do so well, and their insane fairy-tale run, sprinkled with some of that NiP magic earns them a spot on this list.
4. IEM Katowice 2016: Fnatic
Fnatic, having just replaced pronax for Dennis were on a confusingly hot run of form. The same tactical aptitude and mid-round calling that the world was used to seeing from their sith overlords had dissapeared in favour of a loose, pick and roll style that focussed on the individual prowess of their player,s rather than the sum of the systems parts. In their first five events as a team, they had won all five. Not necessarily in the same dominating fashion as they had done in early of 2015 - but winning them nonetheless. Katowice 2016 would be the 6th and final event this Fnatic roster would win together - beating Virtus.pro, Astralis, and the Brazilians all in back-to-back Bo3's. This win not only cemented them as one of the most underrated all-time great teams, but also as number four in our countdown.
3. IEM Katowice 2015: Fnatic
IEM Katowice 2015 was the last Major held in Katowice at the time of writing and is often historically overshadowed by the epic ESL One Cologne 2015 that preceded it. However, it would be here in the spodek arena that Fnatic would officially claim the titles of Sith Lords and start their 2015 reign of terror as the greatest team of all time. Managing to beat out the magic of their fellow Swedes in the Grand Finals and the indomitable gatekeeping power of Virtus.pro in the semi's - Fnatic were a step above the rest at this time. As a result, they boast one of the most impressive Katowice runs of all-time.
2. EMS One Spring 2013: Ninjas in Pyjamas
Newer fans of the game will often read about the dominance NiP had over the scene when they were at their peak in 2012-13, but their run at Katowice in 2013 exemplified this through in-game tangibility. They did not drop a single map throughout the online group stage and LAN finals. They 2-0'd both the KennyS version of VeryGames and Xyp9x Fnatic - two of the most dangerous teams in the world outside of Virtus.pro at the time - like no other roster could. Get_Right and f0rest finished the event with 1.4 and 1.38 ratings respectively - and continued their run as the best team in the world at the time with ease.
1. EMS One Katowice 2014: Virtus.pro
The only name on this list that isn't Swedish - the 2014 Virtus.pro run at CS:GO's second Major was easily the most dominating performance by any team in Katowice. They dropped a single map the entire tournament and beat the entire hit-list of the most dangerous teams in the world with a destructive ease that earned them the now famous title of Virtus.plow. Hellraisers (formerly Astana Dragons), Titan (formerly VeryGames), LDLC (with KQLY), LGB (with the Fnatic core) and NiP all fell to the will of the Poles. pashaBiceps cemented himself as one of the games most explosive stars - Byali filled the shoes of his tenured predecessors and Virtus.pro won their first big title in CS:GO. The win was achieved in their home country of Poland and forever earned them a reputation doused in infamy as the plow. No other teams win in Katowice shook the CS:GO world at the time more than VP's win in Katowice 2014, and can still be felt in some respects today.
IEM Katowice 2017: Astralis - the only team to win Katowice and not be included due to the level of competition they beat to win. Whilst other entries beat literally some of CS:GO's best teams of all-time, Astralis's hit list doesn't even come close. Obviously though, they themselves are one of the best teams to ever grace CS:GO, and winning in Katowice is worthy to mention in itself which is why they find themselves here in the honourable mentions. EMS One Katowice 2014 - Complexity: just a fun mention as they were the highest achieving North American team in Katowice - finishing top eight and losing a 2-1 Bo3 to NiP. Possibly the peak for the swag/semphis/hiko Complexity line-up, and signified a golden era for NA CS:GO.