iem-katowice-2024:-team-spirit-and-basilisk’s-joona-“serral”-sotala-basilisk’s-joona-“serral”-sotala-crowned-champions
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The Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice 2024 Grand Finals have concluded, with BASILISK’s Joona “Serral” Sotala named the new StarCraft® II Champion and Team Spirit being crowned the Counter-Strike 2 Champions. While BASILISK’s Joona “Serral” Sotala returns for a second time, Team Spirit joins the legendary Hall of Heroes for the first time in history.

Team Spirit’s dominance in the Counter-Strike 2 Grand Finals saw an epic display of the young team of prodigies as they took down the veterans and one of the favorites to win the competition, FaZe Clan. Ranked #19 in the ESL World Ranking, Team Spirit beat the #1 ranked FaZe Clan in a decisive 3-0 victory. Making his tier 1 competition debut, teen superstar Danil “donk” Kryshkovets took fans’ breath away in what many are calling the best individual performance in history.

The fastest-selling IEM Katowice tournament in history, the event saw a peak viewership of over 972,000* for Counter-Strike 2 and more than 77,000* for StarCraft® II. The sold-out Spodek Arena and MCK Auditorium welcomed over 65,000 fans across four days of live StarCraft® II competition, and three days of Counter-Strike action, complemented by IEM Expo.

The return of the IEM Expo gave esports and gaming enthusiasts from Poland and beyond the opportunity to test the latest Intel® powered gaming hardware, get involved in partner activations, try out the newest games, marvel at cosplay costumes, and much more.

Counter-Strike 2

Play-In Stage & Group Stage

The tournament commenced on January 31 with the Play-In Stage, during which 16 teams battled it out for eight of the 16 spots available in the Group Stage. Local heroes ENCE proceeded to the second stage of the tournament, amongst others.

The Group Stage ran from February 3 – 6 and saw teams divided into two groups of eight, where the top two teams from the upper bracket and the top team from the lower bracket advanced to the Playoffs. Group A saw Team Spirit dominate the upper bracket, with FaZe Clan coming in second and Team Falcons emerging victorious in the lower bracket.

In Group B, G2 Esports beat out HEROIC in the lower bracket final to claim their spot in the Playoffs. In the upper bracket, MOUZ and ENCE secured the final two spots, meaning that IEM Katowice 2024 marks the first time in eight years that a majority Polish team has reached the Playoffs.

Playoffs

The final stage of the competition kicked off on Friday, February 9, with a quarterfinal clash between IEM Katowice 2023 Champions, G2 Esports, and IEM Katowice 2022 Champions, FaZe Clan. After many close rounds, the determination and teamwork of FaZe Clan proved to be stronger, leading to a 2-0 win and a spot in the semifinals.

The second quarterfinal was also an emotional rollercoaster for the Polish fans as ENCE faced off against Team Falcons. Despite having the full backing of the arena, it was ultimately Team Falcons who claimed the victory with a narrow win on map 3 and a final score of 2-1.

Saturday, February 10, saw the semifinals take place, with the top two teams from the Group Stage up against the quarterfinal winners. FaZe Clan proved themselves against MOUZ as they secured their spot in the Grand Final with a flawless 2-0 score, and Team Spirit dominated Team Falcons 2-0 to secure the other spot.

Grand Final

Following impressive performances in the Playoffs where neither team dropped a map, FaZe Clan and Team Spirit geared up on Sunday and took the stage for the Grand Final.

The first game of the day saw an even 6-6 score at half-time before Team Spirit managed to pull ahead and secure a 13-9 victory over FaZe Clan, in large part thanks to Danil “donk” Kryshkovets’ incredible performance.

The second game was closer, with FaZe Clan narrowly missing out on a win and the game ending in a 13-11 victory for Team Spirit.

The third and final game, however, saw Team Spirit dominate, winning round after round and concluding the match with a 13-3 score. Team Spirit were an unstoppable force, claiming the title of Champion with an impressive 3-0 final score in the best-of-5 Grand Final.

“I’m very happy. ” said Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov of Team Spirit. “We beat FaZe Clan 3-0. For me, it’s a really, really big achievement.”

With their win, Team Spirit will take home $400,000 of the $1,000,000 total prize pool, while also securing their spot in the IEM Cologne 2024 Group Stage and entering the race to secure the Intel Grand Slam V.

One of the best professional Counter-Strike debuts of all time, Danil “donk” Kryshkovets received a lot of praise from his teammates as well as from the wider esports community. Furthermore, for his achievements, the young Rifler has been awarded the ESL Pro Tour DHL MVP.

The ESL Pro Tour (EPT) for Counter-Strike continues with ESL Challenger League Season 47 commencing online on February 13 and IEM Chengdu 2024 taking place on April 8-14, with the final three days being played out live in Chengdu, China.

For more information and the latest updates about ESL’s Counter-Strike esports ecosystem, head to the official ESL Pro Tour website, and follow ESL CS on X, Instagram, and Facebook.

StarCraft® II

Group Stage

The Group Stage ran from February 8 – 10 and saw 24 players split into four groups of six to compete in a Round-Robin format live in front of their fans at the MCK Auditorium.

After two and a half days of fierce battles, HeRoMaRinE (Group A), SHIN (Group B), Serral (Group C), and Dark (Group D) topped their respective groups and secured themselves a direct spot in the quarterfinals.

Surprisingly, reigning World Champion Oliveira and Gamers8 Champion Reynor fell short in the Group Stage and it was Solar, GuMiho (both Group A), Cure, Clem (both Group B), ByuN, SKillous (both Group C), Dark and herO (both Group D) who advanced to the Playoffs, following some close battles that kept the community on the edge of their seat.

Playoffs

With the Group Stage concluded, the second- and third-placed teams of each group continued their fight for victory in the Round of 12, with Clem, Dark, ByuN, and Cure coming out on top.

In the quarterfinals, Serral continued his reign without dropping a single map by beating Clem 3-0, while Dark and Maru beat their countrymen SHIN and Byun 3-1 and 3-2 respectively. In the fourth quarterfinal, Cure proved to be dominant over HeRoMaRinE, who, until then, had not yet lost a map in the competition

The first semifinal was a clash between Zergs as Serral and Dark entered the final part of the competition with Serral taking out Dark 3-1. During the second semifinal it was Maru and Cure’s turn to show who was the strongest Terran, with Maru eventually claiming a 3-0 victory.

The long-longed-for Grand Final between Maru and Serral promised some spectacular action, yet already early on Maru’s dedication and diligence showed to be no match for Serral’s unparalleled level of gameplay, leading to a 4-0 win on Serral’s behalf.

“It feels amazing to play in front of the Polish crowd,” said Joona “Serral” Sotala of BASILISK. “I think I gave this one my everything, and I didn’t really leave anything in myself. This was my full performance, I don’t think I can do much better.”

With his victory, Serral takes home $150,000 of the $500,000 total prize pool, on top of an additional $2,500 awarded to him for map wins in the Group Stage. For their top placementsMaru, Dark, and Cure received a direct invite to the Esports World Cup – the 2023/2024 ESL Pro Tour season’s Championship event – later this year, joining Serral and Clem who secured his spot by winning ESL SC2 Masters 2023 Summer and Winter respectively.

Next up in the ESL Pro Tour for StarCraft® II is the ESL SC2 Masters: Spring season concluding with live Finals at DreamHack Dallas in Dallas, Texas, USA, on May 31-June 2.

By George Miller

George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.