With the group stage done and dusted, this year's IEM Katowice has moved on to the playoff stage and on Friday there are two potentially gripping quarter-finals to enjoy.
In the first, Group A runners-up Natus Vincere lock horns with Group B's third-placed side Outsiders and the winners of that contest progress to the semi-finals, where they will face Heroic.
The second quarter-final pits Group B runners-up Team Vitality against the third-placed team from Group A - Team Liquid. The winners of that clash will then face red-hot G2 Esports in the last four.
The S-Tier event is edging closer to its conclusion with a $1million prize pool on offer and the champions set for automatic qualification for the IEM Cologne later in the season.
|What||Natus Vincere vs Outsiders|
|When||9.30am ET, Friday February 10th 2023|
|How to watch||ESL Counter-Strike Twitch & Youtube channels|
|Odds||Natus Vincere -175, Outsiders +125|
The first quarter-final at this year's IEM Katowice in Poland has the potential to be a close matchup with both sides having shown signs of vulnerability throughout the tournament but Natus Vincere are fancied at to overcome Outsiders.
Currently fifth in the HLTV world rankings, Outsiders sent shockwaves across the CS:GO circuit late last year, defying expectations to win the IEM Rio Major back in November.
Consequently, as recent major winners, their performances are under the microscope at S-Tier tournaments a little more now and it is fair to say they have been lacking in the IEM Katowice.
They began in the upper bracket in Group B, losing immediately to Fnatic 2-1 to drop down to the lower bracket, putting themselves on the brink of a quick elimination.
And, although they managed to battle through and reach the playoffs, nearly all of their matches at the event have seemed like a struggle.
They ground past Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-1, having lost the first map Vertigo 16-5, in their first lower-bracket contest before easing past a weakened OG team 2-0 and then again struggling against Complexity Gaming.
Outsiders had to dig deep in that one too but conceded 44 rounds in the three-map contest and they do not look like the kind of side who will pull off another shock title win.
Natus Vincere have not exactly been in barnstorming form the last couple of months either - they failed to win their section at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023 - but they stayed in the upper bracket of Group A, sweeping aside Cloud9 and Team Liquid 2-0 before losing by the same scoreline to a very sharp G2 Esports.
|What||Team Liquid vs Team Vitality|
|When||1pm ET, Friday February 10th 2023|
|How to watch||ESL Counter-Strike Twitch & Youtube channels,|
|Odds||Team Liquid +110, Team Vitality|
Both Team Liquid and Team Vitality have enjoyed success on the CS:GO circuits in the last several months, making for an intriguing encounter in the second quarter-final at the IEM Katowice 2023.
While Team Liquid were runners-up at the prestigious BLAST Premier World Final at the end of 2022, Team Vitality recently topped their section at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups and were crowned champions of season 16 of the ESL Pro League back in October.
With that in mind, punters may want to look more closely at the form of each team in the IEM Katowice to determine the potential winners of this playoff clash.
Team Liquid made no mistake in their opening match in Group A, sweeping aside IHC Esports 2-0 before suffering a defeat by the same scoreline against Natus Vincere and subsequently dropping into the lower bracket.
In the lower bracket, they were then pushed close in both of their matches, firstly against Team Spirit and then against FaZe Clan, coming through both games 2-1.
They have not been entirely convincing at the IEM Katowice, whereas Team Vitality have had a smoother ride of it.
Vitality opened with a 2-0 win over Ninjas in Pyjamas and ensured they stayed in the upper bracket of Group B with a 2-1 win over Fnatic.