🙌 Meet the teams for #IEM Katowice 2020! #ESLProTour winners: @FNATIC / @astralisgg / @mousesports.— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) January 6, 2020
Direct invites: @100Thieves / @EvilGeniuses / @NiPGaming, @natusvincere / @virtuspro / @TeamVitality / @TeamLiquid.
Qualifiers: Who ya got? 🤔
🇵🇱 https://t.co/NtFof6OQcp pic.twitter.com/KYT0mxRCrM
The seven invited teams and recent best results are:
- 100 Thieves - 2nd: IEM Beijing
- Evil Geniuses - 1st: StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8
- Team Liquid - Intel Grand Slam Season 2 winner
- Natus Vincere - 1st: StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7
- Ninjas in Pyjamas - 2nd: BLAST Pro Series: Copenhagen 2019
- Virtus.pro - 2nd: StarLadder Berlin Major
- Team Vitality - 1st: EPICENTER 2019
As the first 2020 Masters event in the new ESL Pro Tour, victories in the latter half of 2019 saw teams given the opportunity to receive an automatic spot.
DreamHack Masters Malmö saw Fnatic through while Astralis gave a Counter-Strike masterclass at IEM Beijing. It was the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals that mousesports won, beating Astralis and preventing two pre-qualified teams from making the Odense grand final.
If a team already holding a Katowice spot had won a further Masters event, the invite would not go to the runner-up of that tournament but to the next highest-ranked team in ESL's own World Ranking leaderboard instead.
Four regional closed qualifiers will take place to determine the final six teams that will be playing at the Spodek Arena next month.
The European Qualifier will see three teams through, while Asia, Oceania and North America will each see a single winner make it to Poland.
FaZe Clan, G2 Esports and Heroic look like the three likely candidates, but ENCE will be looking to recover from a shaky 2019 following the removal of Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen after the last Major.
It will be Aristocracy and Illuminar Gaming carrying Polish hopes on their shoulders as the only domestic teams in contention for a place currently, with two open qualifier spots leaving the possibility of another contender open.
The new Cloud9, formerly ATK, will make their debut in the North American Qualifier and those waiting for the Gen.G debut of Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand will have to wait a little bit longer as Hunter "SicK" Mims will continue his stand-in stint with the squad.
BnTeT's former team TYLOO will be in the Asia Qualifier alongside the likes of Vici Gaming and Alpha Red while all eyes will be on the Aussie offerings in the Oceania Qualifier as rumours suggest imminent changes will be coming for Renegades and ORDER.