ESL has announced that it will host the first CS:GO major in 2019, ESL's sixth Major, and will make a return to the Polish city of Katowice for the third time, as part of the Intel Extreme Masters event.
ESL last hosted a Counter-Strike major in 2016 at the famous Lanxess arena for ESL One Cologne, and the acclaimed tournament organizers have been granted Major Championship status from Valve once again.
The Spodek arena where previous IEM Katowice events have been held is another iconic venue in Counter-Strike and will be lifted further by its largest ever prize pool.
With $1,000,000 to be spread amongst the winners, the 24 best teams will compete for the lion's share, over a gruelling number of weeks.
Beginning on February 14th will be the 'Challengers' stage, in which 16 teams compete for a spot in the 'Legends' stage, starting February 21st.
The Legends are made up of the top eight from the Challengers stage, plus the top eight teams from the previous major, which will be the FACEIT Major in London in September.
- February 14 - 20: the Challengers Stage will pit 16 teams against each other with competition held at the ESL Arena in Katowice.
- February 21 - 24: the Legends Stage will take place at the International Congress Center (ICC) as the best eight teams of the Challengers Stage and the top eight teams of the previous Major are battling for a spot in the playoffs in front of a live audience, ready to welcome over 1,000 fans.
- February 28 - March 3: the Champions Stage will be a four-day playoff taking place inside the legendary Spodek Arena, to crown a new world champion
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) July 12, 2018
Vice President of Pro Gaming at ESL, Michal Blicharz, believes the already iconic IEM Katowice will be something legendary now that it has the Major status from Valve.
"IEM Katowice has grown to become one of the most iconic esports tournaments in the world.
I expect that coupling the heritage of IEM with the gravity of a Valve Major Championship will elevate the tournament to what will be the most incredible IEM event in history."
First up of course, fans have the FACEIT London Major to look forward to in September of 2018, but having the first of 2019 be at Katowice will no doubt start the year off with a bang.