IEM Katowice 2020 SC2 Playoffs

IEM Katowice 2020 StarCraft 2 Playoffs Review

With IEM Katowice said and done with we have finished our first stop on the ESL Pro Tour, with another Zerg Champion, but we missed out on the Final to end all Finals. We had a lot of insane series and we saw Serral show emotion he hasn’t shown since 2015, in a Semi Final loss. There were so many matches played that an article highlighting all of them would be pages long so here, we’re just going to cover the Playoff bracket.

IEM Katowice 2020 Quarterfinals

Serral (Z) 3-1 INnoVation (T)

We started off with the battle of the robots and a rather easy match for Serral who could not be stopped coming into the series. INnoVation showed good games to be sure but he got the unlucky draw in this one. The Korean Terran player was only able to take Eternal Empire away from the Finnish Zerg player before crumbling underneath the pressure.

Dear (P) 1-3 Zest (P)

The PvP matchup of fan favorites was burned as Zest outplayed Dear at every turn. Dear had a good run up to this point and Zest was simply the better Protoss player on the day. PvP’s tend to be predetermined, excruciatingly boring matches and this series held up that stigma. That being said, of the 103 PvP mirror matches, this was surely one of the better ones to watch.

Rogue (Z) 3-0 Dark (Z)

Setting the tone for the rest of the playoffs was this absolutely one-sided series. Dark won the World Championship at BlizzCon no more than two months ago and looked set up for another Finals appearance. Rogue had other plans however, as he shut him down in three straight maps. It just goes to show the competitiveness of StarCraft that the most recent World Champion can get knocked out so early in the next tournament.

Maru (T) 3-1 sOs (P)

It has been awhile since we have seen Maru make it this far in a tournament, truthfully it’s been awhile since we’ve seen two Terran players in a Playoff position. This tournament however, Maru showed up and he showed up big. He may have won the easiest opponent in the Quarters to be honest, but seeing him and Serral on opposite sides of the bracket will always make the audience drool a bit. 

IEM Katowice 2020 Semifinals

Serral (Z) 2-3 Zest (P)

Perhaps the biggest upset of the whole tournament, we all expected Maru to be the reason we lost our dream Finals yet again but in the first match of the Semis Serral became visibly frustrated and then proceeded to blank and lose the 5th game of the series. Zest did well to capitalize on crucial mistakes and hold the Zerg onslaught when he did, though I have a lot of doubt that he will ever be able to do it again against someone of Serral’s, or Rogue’s, Caliber. In a world where Serral returns to his calm and collected self, maybe Zest doesn’t come out on top in this series.

Maru (T) 2-3 Rogue (Z)

The two Jin Air members faced off in the second series of the Semifinals and Maru only proxied one Barracks the whole series. Whether or not that was the right play remains to be factual but either way he didn’t win. Coming into the 4th map Maru was ahead 2-1 in map score and some would argue if he played his signature style more in this match then he could have taken the series for himself. It wasn’t meant to be however and Rogue moved on to play in one of the worst Finals in StarCraft 2 History.

IEM Katowice 2020 Finals

Zest (P) 1-4 Rogue (Z)

After a really close Semifinals, we were left wondering what happened to the Finals after the fact. Zest won map one on Ephemeron but was completely outclassed by Rogue on each of the next four maps. Rogue played the best this tournament and fully deserved his win but Zest, even if he is best, did not perform at the same level he did even in the Semifinals. Zest finally did a Dark Templar build and it proved to be ineffective against the likes of Rogue, so maybe it was best he didn’t use it against Serral, I was able to predict a lot of Zest’s build orders in this series which, wasn’t a good sign going through the series, because Rogue is a much more decorated player than I, and even if he can’t see the initial build, he can figure it out with less information. 

The top four, and even top eight, did a fantastic job getting this far in the first ESL Pro Tour tournament of the year and next year this same stage will hold the first ever ESL Pro Tour World Champion. It’s a little too early to tell but it should be safe to say we will see a few of these faces right back here next time. Make sure to come back in order to learn more about the next stop on the ESL Pro Tour, Dreamhack Dallas!

Cameron Carr image

Cameron Carr

6 March 2020

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