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The War Room: IEM Katowice 2016

The Spodek Arena in Katowice, or the Polish Las Vegas as some call it, was home to the 10th IEM World Championships. It was advertised by huge billboards throughout the city. The tournament already started on Wednesday, but viewers were only allowed admittance on Friday. Hello from Katowice. It’s almost 4pm and there’s still a huge queue in front of the stadium. The organisers put up a huge screen for people to watch the quarter finals while they wait. Luckily us press people don’t have to wait in line. Let’s see what’s going on inside. I almost forgot, the stadium is called Spodek Arena, which means “saucer” in Polish. (A pun on the word saucer having similar pronounciation to CS) The matches took place in well separated areas in the stadium. We could’ve taken on Minotaur’s Labyrinth after figuring out the mazes at Spodek Arena. The main stage was exclusive to CS:GO matches on Friday, which was crowded at all times. The other stages were home to League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. Every brand and manufacturer with a stake in e-sports was present showing off their latest premium products, which everyone could have a go with. Promoting them were charming Polish hostesses, who agreed to do some promotion for us as well. No gaming championships are complete without cosplayers, of which you could see the occasional Nova from Starcraft or an Asiimov AWP toting soldier. Playing on their home turf was Virtus Pro, who unfortunately weren’t able to stop the Swedish blizzard from winning the tournament. In a post game interview TaZ offered his apologies to their fans, who didn’t seem to mind and just kept chanting even louder. This year’s surprise team was the FalleN lead Brazilian Luminosity Gaming. Their humble conduct and knowledge quickly won over the viewers’ hearts. They played one nail biting round after another against NaVi for a place in the finals. Overpass proved to be the most entertaining map to watch with plenty of overtime. Friday was stretched well into the dawn of the next day, thanks to tiny delays adding up, making the quarter finals start at 11:30pm. Hello everyone, it’s the second day for us at IEM and we had some slight technical difficulties. And by slight I mean anything that could go wrong, did. We spent most of our time fixing the equipment, but took a break to see NaVi battle it out against Luminosity since we’re mostly into CS:GO at The War Room. The stadium trembled under the cheers after a particularly amazing move, something you can’t fully experience just by watching this video. I can only recommend that you come and see this for yourself at least once, it’s absolutely mind blowing. Here’s something I didn’t know: the Polish consider Virtus Pro to be their national team. And by this point we can really call it a fanbase where most of them, and we’re talking about a couple thousand people, are running around in the team’s jersey. Not to mention the cheering that ensues after a won round inside Spodek Arena. Let’s be honest, it must be thrilling to play in front of such an audience. Something we can’t even begin to imagine, not even within the confines of e-sports. We’re on the main stage and the CS:GO finals will take place in about thirty minutes. You can tell how popular the game is just by how quickly the place filled up. It’s funny how there’s just as many people outside of the main stage in the stadium who couldn’t get in here. And there’s still a massive queue outside the stadium, with people waiting to get in. LET’S GO, E-SPORT! It’s 6pm and the highly anticipated CS:GO finals have just begun. Fnatic versus Luminosity Gaming. We couldn’t have asked for a better pairing of teams. The finals also attracted gaming celebrities like HeatoN, who gladly signed T-shirts and took the occasional photo with fans. The stage was amazing with all its bells and whistles and the tone was set by Intel’s CEO presenting the trophy. You could tell by his face that passion for gaming and showmanship go hand in hand, that we’re already experiencing the future. The teams line up and the players are being introduced. The stage showed each player’s face via a screen as long as they were alive in the game. So even if you weren’t paying too much attention you could tell how the round was progressing with just a glance. After each round they even informed you about which player did the most damage. The audience was split roughly about 80-20 towards LG. The whole arena went nuts after some particularly fantastic moves by the Brazilian team, like FalleN’s masterful AWP shots. Unfortunately those cheers didn’t help the Brazilian team win. The Swedes defeated Luminosity with a score of 3-0. But the end result doesn’t tell the full story. Two of the maps went into overtime, which Fnatic managed to decide for themselves, through their strong mental discipline. The Brazilian team has no reason to feel sad however. They quickly established themselves among the top teams in the world and will be able to stay there, thanks to their unwavering performance. The future’s begun. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to experience this high level of a professional competition. It’s not completely unrealistic to talk about real stars and teams, which have their own brand. Not to mention the huge fanbase, with which nothing of this could ever happen. Hi guys, it’s the last day and there’s a lot less people around after the conclusion of the CS:GO finals. Fnatic have written history by defending their title this year, winning the championship exactly one year later. You can count their lost games on one hand. They’ve established themselves as the best team in the world. That means our show’s come to an end, thank you for watching. Goodbye. What’s better, if I rap this way or that way? Unfortunately…no, not unfortunately. Takin’ over the flow, yo.

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