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Esports: IEM Katowice Sunday preview

The first major event in the Counter Strike: Global Offensive season - the IEM Katowice - is in full swing in Poland and there are more matches in the event's group stage on Sunday.

CS:GO's best and brightest are involved in the S-Tier tournament, which takes place in Katowice in Poland and has a $1million prize pool on offer.

The event began in the play-in stage with 24 teams competing, but the field has been whittled down to 16 for the ongoing group phase, which features big hitters such as FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere.

The group stage features two sections - Groups A and B - and at the end of it three sides from each group will make the playoffs and compete for the $400,000 awarded to the winners as well as automatic qualification for the IEM Cologne.

Here is a look at a handful of the matches taking place in the IEM Katowice on Sunday.

BIG and Spirit look tough to separate

WhatBIG vs Team Spirit, CS:GO IEM Katowice
WhereKatowice, Poland
When15.00, Sunday 5th February
How to watchESL Counter-Strike Twitch & Youtube channels, bet365 Sports Live Streaming
OddsBIG 8/11, Team Spirit 1/1

Not a lot separates BIG and Team Spirit, who lock horns in Group A's lower-bracket quarter-finals on Sunday, knowing a defeat for either side would send them packing.

German outfit BIG are 16th in the HLTV world CS:GO rankings, while Team Spirit are 13th and neither side has exactly lit up the CS:GO circuit in the last year or so.

BIG managed to finish as runners-up at the Elisa Masters Espoo back in November, while Spirit were crowned Flow FiReLEAGUE champions in October but neither side has made waves in S-Tier events recently.

In this year's IEM Katowice, BIG did well to see off Complexity and FURIA Esports in the event's play-in stage, while Team Spirit defeated Grayhound and then lost to a decent Ninjas In Pyjamas side, dropping down to the lower bracket but eventually beating Sprout to secure a spot in the group stage.

Both sides had similar experiences in their group openers with BIG and Spirit losing to G2 Esports and FaZe Clan respectively and they could be tough to split in this one so punters who want a bet should go for over 2.5 maps at 5/6.

G2 Esports can show class against FaZe Clan

WhatG2 Esports vs FaZe Clan, CS:GO IEM Katowice
WhereKatowice, Poland
When15.00, Sunday 5th February
How to watchESL Counter-Strike Twitch & Youtube channels, bet365 Sports Live Streaming
OddsG2 Esports 8/11, FaZe Clan 1/1

The big one on Sunday pits G2 Esports against FaZe Clan in a rematch of last year's IEM Katowice final.

It was FaZe Clan who ran out 3-0 winners in the 2022 final but the match could have a different outcome this time around.

FaZe won the IEM Katowice last year as part of an extraordinary first half of the season but they struggled for consistency from the summer onwards, whereas G2 Esports look like a side going from strength to strength.

Currently second in the HLTV world rankings, G2 Esports were BLAST Premier World champions at the end of 2022 and went on to win their section at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups last month.

They were comfortable winners over BIG in their Group A opener at the IEM Katowice, winning 16-12 on Anubis and 16-8 on Inferno, and on current form they look a great bet to beat FaZe Clan at 8/11.

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Esports: CS:GO IEM Katowice outright

Team Liquid worth chancing against inconsistent NAVI

WhatNatus Vincere vs Team Liquid, CS:GO IEM Katowice
WhereKatowice, Poland
When18.30, Sunday 5th February
How to watchESL Counter-Strike Twitch & Youtube channels, bet365 Sports Live Streaming
OddsNatus Vincere 4/7, Team Liquid 5/4

Two of the other big hitters on the CS:GO circuit clash later on Sunday when Natus Vincere take on Team Liquid.

Team Liquid and Natus Vincere both cruised past their opening group stage opponents IHC Esports and Cloud9 respectively, both winning 2-0, and at first glance this is a tough one to call.

But Natus Vincere are not the force they were in the early stages of 2022, when they won the BLAST Premier Spring Finals and finished runners-up at the PGL Major Antwerp and IEM Cologne.

Since then, they have fallen away a bit, failing to make an impact at the IEM Rio Major, the BLAST Premier Fall Final, the BLAST Premier World Final or the BLAST Premier Spring Groups.

Liquid, meanwhile, were runners-up at the BLAST Premier World Final and are worth chancing to win this at 5/4.

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