Despite being eight years old, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive keeps on growing. The game and the associated esport see a steady influx of new players and viewers. To get these newcomers familiar with the history of CS:GO, we will recap its most important moments in ‘Global Origins’. Today, we look back at the second major, EMS Katowice 2014, and recap what happened at the event.
This article is the second part of a series. You can read the first part by clicking here.
After the success of the first major, which peaked at 145.000 viewers, Valve was quick to announce a second iteration of the event. It would be held at ESL One Katowice and would see a similar format as the inaugural major, but this time, eight teams earned their spot through making it to the playoffs at Dreamhack Winter, two teams were invited and six other spots were distributed in regional qualifiers. The event boasted a prize pool of 250.000$ and would take place in the Polish town of Katowice.
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A lot of contenders to the crown
Ever since becoming the first-ever Major champions, Fnatic hadn’t really shown that their victory propelled them to be the best team in the world. In fact, they had since lost series to Titan, who previously played under the VeryGames banner, NIP, and LGB. This meant that the race for the title at EMS Katowice 2014 would be as open as possible. Ninjas in Pyjamas, Titan, Fnatic, and Natus Vincere were all considered as favorites. Universal Soldiers, who now played under the Virtus.pro name had a unique chance to become champions in front of their home crowd. And of course, there was the possibility of another outsider becoming Major champions.
The most controversial thing to happen in the first days was the removal of Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields as an analyst. The journalist had made negative comments on Poland and its population and was removed from the broadcast. Thorin stated, among other things, that Poland was the worst country in Europe and compared the town of Katowice to an “undeveloped, African place”.
The highs and lows of a groupstage
When the action kicked off, we saw no lack of surprising results. Group A saw the elimination of tournament favorites Titan. The French won their opening match but lost the winners finals to hometown heroes Virtus.pro. They were sent packing by Hellraiser, who punched their ticket to the quarter-final with a 16-14 victory on Inferno. NIP had more success in Group B, convincingly winning both their matches. The second place went to LDLC.com, the team around Vincent ‘happy’ Schopenhauer.
Defending champions Fnatic had a rougher ride to make it out of Group C. They lost their opening match to Reason Gaming, edged out iBuypower to keep their hopes alive, but won the rematch against Reason Gaming in the decider. They finished second to Nicolai ‘device’ Reedtz and his Danish teammates in Dignitas. Finally, LGB eSports and Complexity Gaming eliminated Na’Vi and Clan Mystyk in Group C. This result was especially disappointing for Clan Mystyk, as the French squad had recently acquired superstar Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub and were hoping for a better result.
New favorites emerge
With the group stage done and dusted, we could make a more founded prediction of who could win the tournament. Out of the five favorites going into the event, NIP had given the best impression. They dominated their group and had fallen into the preferable side of the bracket. They had to face ComPlexity in the quarterfinals and the winner of Dignitas versus Hellraisers in the semifinals. As a result of this, it seemed like the Swedes had already booked their spot in the grand final. Fnatic seemed shaky, and Na’Vi and Titan we already sent packing. Only Virtus.pro had fulfilled the expectations and was deemed the only team that could stop NIP in their road to a Major title.
But it was another team that scared the Ninjas, a team that gave them flashbacks to their worst loss to date.
During the group stage, a team of young, Swedish players had emerged as a dominant force: LGB eSports. The parallels between them and Fnatic at Dreamhack Winter 2013 were imminent. They made significant roster changes in the weeks before the event. Going into the tournament, analysts and fans saw them as five talented individuals, often called ‘onliners’, but nowhere near a top team. Could we see a team no one considered as contenders walk away with the title for the second time in a row?
A scary crowd
LGB was paired with defending champion in their quarter-final. The series went all three maps, but on the final map, Train, Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer led his team to a close victory. In the semi-final, they met Virtus.pro. The Poles had steamrolled through LDLC.com in their quarter-final and had one massive advantage: thousands of roaring fans. The arena, Spodek, was sold out. This did not make the team overperform, as they were a world-class lineup without that advantage. But it scared their opponents. The Virtus plow, as their fans call them, crushed LGB with a 2-1 victory and secured a spot in the final. This might seem like a close scoreline, but in the map that LGB won, one of the Virtus.pro players played with a major disadvantage. Before loading up Mirage, Wiktor ‘TaZ’ Wojtas accidentally changed his player model. This meant he couldn’t line up his utility accurately.
On the other side of the bracket, things went as planned. NIP faced no great difficulty in eliminating ComPlexity and met their Danish neighbors Dignitas in the semi-finals. There, the Ninjas left no doubt about their intentions: they wanted to become champions, and nothing would stop them. They won both maps in a convincing manner, never dropping more than a couple of rounds.
And so the stage was set for the grand final. NIP had their second chance to win a Major but needed to defeat a red hot Virtus.pro.
Papito puts Poland in Delirium
The final had everything the fans could hope for. It saw the two best AWP’ers of the event, Jarosław “pashaBiceps“ Jarząbkowski and Robin ‘fifflaren’ Johansson, clash on maps that allowed aggressive sniping. It saw superstars like Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund, Patrik ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, Janusz ‘snax’ Pogorzelski and Pawel ‘byali’ Bielinski go head to head. And it saw a crowd that cheered for every single kill Virtus.pro got. And they cheered a lot.
Virtus.pro dominated their Swedish opponents. They managed to collect 11 rounds on the T-side of Mirage and nurtured that lead to a 16-9 victory. On Inferno, they started on the favored CT-side. They managed to shut NIP out of the sites and ended the half with an 11-4 lead. Stewed forward by what was, at this point, a hysterical crowd, they traded rounds until they reached match point. They closed it out on the first try and lifted the trophy to the cheers of their fans. For the second time in a row, a team won a major in their own country. And for the second time in a row, Ninjas in Pyjamas lost in the final.