This weekend will see IEM's first tournament of the year, and there's no reason for it to fly under the radar. The level of competition will be very high because of the terrific teams competing in Katowice, Poland for a $50,000 prize pool and direct seed into the IEM World Championship later this year. Having the unfortunate scheduling of being nestled between the North American and European Season 3 qualifiers, Katowice has the chance to not be given the due it deserves.
With both Azubu teams, Fnatic, Curse, and Gambit Gaming (former Moscow 5) competing with other top teams from around Europe it will surely be a tournament to remember. Check out the groups, schedule, and find VoD's (when available) on Leaguepedia's Katowice page here.
Korean Finals Assured?
Azubu Blaze and Azubu Frost have found themselves in different groups, and smart money would have both teams not only winning their groups, but continuing on to see each other in the finals of this event. These two teams have a long history of intensely close matches with both sides having big victories in different OGN's. Frost has gotten the better of Blaze lately, but the latest two series in the OGN went all 5 games and could have gone either way. If fans were to see an all Korean final, it surely wouldn't disappoint because the level of play by these two teams consistently amazes all who watch.
Blaze gets to show off how much their top lane, Flame, has improved since joining the team a few months ago after Reapered left. Reapered was known as one of the best players in Korea at the time, and Flame had big shoes to fill and struggled at first. However, lately his play has improved in leaps and bounds and he is proving that the Azubu organization was right in trusting him with the position. Frost also will get some great practice with teams from around the world before they look repeat in the OGN finals in just a few short weeks. Both Korean teams have much at stake and it is always a joy to watch them.
Europe's Chance to Impress
With two of Korea's best teams in the house, Europe will have a chance to defend its home turf and show how much their scene has flourished of late. Europe has seen a renaissance in the depth of their competitive teams, but some teams at the top have much to prove. Gambit Gaming hasn't been playing up to the level they are accustomed to of late, and they are certainly looking to regain the glory they had when playing under the Moscow 5 name. Something seems off about the team lately, but maybe this is the tournament they get everything back on track under their new sponsors.
Fnatic will be competing with new ADC Yellowstar and it remains to be seen if they will still have the same edge as when young Rekkles was part of the team. They still have to compete next week in the European qualifiers for Season 3, and need to have a good showing to have momentum going into to a must-qualify event. MeetYourMakers is in the same boat as Fnatic, hoping to have a good showing this week to build off heading into a stacked European field looking to qualify for Season 3.
All this is without mentioning huge teams in the scene like SK Gaming and Curse competing to show their stuff on the world stage. It will be difficult to win this tournament, especially with how stacked the field is but that only means a very high level of play for fans to enjoy. So much is at stake for so many teams, it will be fun to see how it all unfolds and who emerges on top with that coveted spot into the IEM World Championship, and a nice chunk of change.
Who do you think will win this weekend RoG'ers? Who has the most to win and who has the most to lose in Poland? Let us know in the comment section and be sure to stay tuned to Reign of Gaming for all your LoL-related needs.
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