G2 Esports have come a long way since failing to qualify for the Rio Major late last year. After years of constantly finishing second-place at big tournaments, it felt like they had hit rock bottom after failing to qualify for one of the two biggest annual events in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In just a few months since then, the team has turned things around and are now unquestionably the best CS:GO team in the world. G2 won IEM Katowice 2023, one of the biggest CS:GO events of the year alongside the Majors and IEM Katowice. Here’s a closer look at why the win was so significant and a few other takeaways from IEM Katowice.
Welcome to the G2 CS:GO era
With two S Tier tournament titles in a row, including one of this year’s $1 million events, G2 Esports are undoubtedly the No. 1 CS:GO team in the world right now. After years of second-place finishes at the biggest tournaments, including at last year’s IEM Katowice, G2 seem to have finally got their monkey off their back after winning the Blast World Finals late last year. They’ve been playing with a lot of confidence since then, including winning 21 consecutive maps on LAN, the second-longest such win streak ever. The G2 of old might have folded after losing Map 3 in the Katowice grand final against Heroic, but this G2 won Map 4 convincingly to claim the Katowice title. Last year, FaZe Clan won Katowice en route to a dominant first half of the year in which they claimed the first Major of the year. G2 look poised to have a similar trajectory in 2023.
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Jks the first player to win Katowice back-to-back with different teams
Photo credit: Stephanie Lindgren / ESL
Justin "jks" Savage subbed in for FaZe Clan last year when Robin "ropz" Kool tested positive for COVID and won IEM Katowice. Now, after nearly half a year with G2, he’s won Katowice again to become the first player to win this prestigious tournament in back-to-back years with different teams. Australian players and teams don’t typically stand out on the international stage in CS:GO, but jks is quickly becoming the best-known and most successful Aussie CS:GO player.
Niko lifts the trophy in Spodek Arena for the first time
Photo credit: HLTV
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač is one of the most beloved CS:GO players and a prominent member of popular orgs FaZe Clan and G2 in recent years. He’s won big titles, but the most prestigious ones, like Katowice, had eluded him, until now. Niko had competed in Katowice six previous times and reached the final three previous times at the Spodek Arena, finishing second twice with FaZe in 2017 and 2018 and second to FaZe last year with G2. In a postmatch broadcast interview after the final, Niko said it was the first time he cried after a win, which is all you have to know to understand how significant of a win this was for him. The other big accomplishment that has eluded him throughout his career is a Major. The way G2 look right now, Niko might just get his Major this year too.
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M0NESY proving to be the young GOAT
Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL
Many have taken to calling Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov the young GOAT, and so far he’s proving it. Beginning his career with NAVI Junior, he was the heir apparent to NAVI legend Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyljev, but G2 signed him away from NAVI. He made his big tournament debut at Katowice last year, and now has two Katowice finals and one Katowice win under his belt.Over the past year, he has been named MVP of the Blast World Final by HLTV and PC Rookie of the Year by the Esports Awards. Oh, and he’s only 17 years old. With tremendous mechanical skill and lots of trophies already in his cabinet, m0NESY might end up being one of the best CS:GO players of all time once his career is over.
So close, yet so far for Heroic
If Heroic had beat G2 in the Katowice grand final, everybody would be talking about Heroic as the best team in the world and on track to dominate in 2023. Both Heroic and G2 came into Katowice with big titles in late 2022. While G2 won the Blast World Final, Heroic had won the Blast Fall Final. Heroic also finished second at the Rio Major. Winning a Blast Final is nice, but winning a Major or the Katowice or Cologne tournaments are really what get you historically recognized. For Heroic, they’ll have to wait until the Paris Major in May for another chance to etch their names in the CS:GO history books.
Lead photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL