Intel® Extreme Masters Katowice Finals 2021 (IEM Katowice) is, in every sense, a very special event as it’s the final tournament of the ESL Pro Tour 2020/21 Circuit. Not only is it considered one of the most important esports events of the year, it is also one with a strong legacy — the event was established in 2013 as the first ESL event held at a professional entertainment/sporting stadium, including when Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) made its debut in 2014 with the EMS One Katowice CSGO Major.
Sunday, February 28, saw the conclusion of IEM Katowice as the victors were crowned in each of the different esports competitions. This 2021 edition of the event was extra special due to the global pandemic affecting the world — the same crisis that, last year, forced us to close IEM Katowice to spectators and shift to an online format. Played online and broadcasted from a virtual studio, the production was yet another example of the unique capabilities developed by ESL during the global pandemic in order to maintain high quality and build on the position as industry leaders within esports.
The impressive, Katowice landmark, the Spodek Arena, usually hosts the event and we ensured it remained visible throughout as a backdrop in the studio. With more than 20,500,000 hours watched across multiple distribution platforms (excl. China), this event continues to cement its place as home to some of the most well-loved CS:GO and StarCraft® II tournaments. IEM Katowice saw hundreds of thousands of fans tuning in to catch the action during the course of the event with peak concurrent viewers (digital platforms, excluding China) surpassing 580,000.
From a competition standpoint, IEM Katowice 2021 delivered some sensational moments — from major upsets to impressive performances. The CS:GO Grand Final did not disappoint as a battle ensued between two CIS-based squads, Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro.Both teams went through the tournament the long way, all the way from the Play-In, proving that the path to success is open to any team. Eventually, Gambit Esports were the victors, which also secured the team’s first top-tier tournament victory since the second CS:GO Major of 2017. It was an impressive feat by this young squad.
Sidenote: The tournament’s best-placing Western team, North America’s Team Liquid, finished in a shared 3-4 place after losing to Virtus.pro in the semi-finals.
Winning the StarCraft II tournament was none other than the 18-year old Italian Zerg player, Riccardo “Reynor” Romiti — the win secured him a place in the history books as the first non-Korean player to ever win the tournament. “Reynor” secured the championship title by defeating Korean Protoss player Joo “Zest” Sung-wook in a 4-2 series. The final match was watched by more than 77,000 concurrent viewers from all around the world, reflecting the continued success and sustainability of the ESL Pro Tour format for the largest esports titles.
Just when you think it’s coming to a close, there’s more! With one final tournament, which began yesterday, 22 players are grappling for the $100,000 prize pool in the DreamHack WC3 Regional Championship. If you haven’t had a chance to watch, join us on the official Intel Extreme Masters website to learn more.