24 teams have now been whittled down to six at IEM Katowice 2021. With CIS teams dominating the premier CS:GO event, who should you keep your eyes on as playoffs kick off? We’ve got the five players you should pay attention to.
The pointy end of IEM Katowice 2021 is now upon us. 24 teams arrived, but only six have made it to the playoffs in the Spodek. The tournament has been dominated by the CIS teams, with Na’Vi, Spirit, Gambit, and Virtus.pro making it to the finals.
However, European legends Astralis as well as NA hopefuls Team Liquid will be looking to create their own storylines in the historic event.
With 30 of the best Counter-Strike players set to take stage on February 26 to duke it out, we’ve highlighted the top five you need to keep your eyes on. You can also put your money where your mouth is with the freeroll on Thrive.
Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Vastyliev — Natus Vincere
He may not have received HLTV’s Best Player of 2020 Award, but s1mple has simply been the best recently. In the last three months, he’s posted an average rating of 1.37 (#1 globally) — a simply mind-boggling number, and one that shows how consistently excellent he is for Na’Vi.
- Read More: IEM Katowice 2021 hub
S1mple is now looking to wrap up back-to-back IEM Katowice wins after his triumph last year, and his form is certainly on par for it. The Ukrainian sniper is down for 75.5 total kills and deaths on Thrive for his quarterfinal against Gambit, and there’s almost every guarantee he’d be pushing over that — no matter if the series is over in two or three maps.
Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz — Astralis
Astralis may not be at their dominant best, but dev1ce is certainly carrying his weight. He’s only posted one below-average map at IEM Katowice — Dust 2 against Spirit, when they got rinsed 16-1. The Danish sniper has his eye in, and will be a big part behind, Astralis’ push for yet another title.
You best hope he shoots straight if you pick him up on Thrive too. At 88.5 total kills and deaths for his game against Virtus.pro, taking overs for 110 points could be a big boon. It’d have to go to three maps — or at least some overtimes — but that just means more time to watch dev1ce go at it against Jame, and that’s a battle you won’t want to miss.
Abay ‘Hobbit’ Khasenov — Gambit
Remember when Hobbit won a Major? Well, it’s looking like he’s wound back the clock on this Gambit roster to that 2018 form. Hobbit has put up heroic efforts for the Russians against mousesports and Evil Geniuses, and played a crucial role in their demolition of G2.
However, if you pick up Hobbit on Thrive, you’ll need to potentially bet on his downfall. With the Kazakhstan native’s line at 44.5 deaths, you’d need to hope the series runs to three against Na’Vi. The last two times these teams faced off Na’Vi won 2-0, but Gambit look on fire, and Hobbit is a big part of that engine.
Timur ‘buster’ Tulepov — Virtus.pro
Everyone talks about ‘Jame time’, but Virtus.pro have evolved beyond that to a battle-hardened phalanx looking to pierce into the Top 5 of CS:GO again. Buster has been a crucial component, being cool and calm in the clutch numerous times at Katowice so far.
His ability to find kills when it really counts has made him one of the highest impact players in the event, even if he doesn’t get all the accolades.
Sizing him up on Thrive with his 44.5 kills line, it might be a risky gambit to push for overs for 115 points. He has only hit that once across seven series in Katowice, versus Vitality (45). However, Virtus.pro have only played two maps at most every series. If it goes to three, it’s easy pickings.
Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov — Natus Vincere
We spoke about s1mple at the top, so it’d be remiss to forget his right-hand man electronic. The Russian rifler has shone at IEM Katowice, putting up big performances against both Virtus.pro and Liquid.
Despite losing against the NA outfit, he was sharp at both enabling his team, and picking up the frags for himself. He doesn’t get all the resources funneled into him like s1mple, so doing what electronic does is a thankless job.
On Thrive, he’s odds on for a line of 6.5 assists for their series against Gambit. He’s easily hit this across all series, totaling 41 assists across three games and seven maps so far. If he can keep those numbers up, he will definitely help push Na’Vi over the line for their second Katowice title in as many years.
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