Russian CS:GO Players Will Be Able To Compete In IEM Katowice

Russian CS:GO Players Will Be Able To Compete In IEM Katowice

As revealed on Thursday, December 8, Russian Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players will be able to compete at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2023. That is even though Poland banned most Russian citizens from traveling to the country amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Outsiders Cleared To Travel To Poland

Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2023 is an upcoming S-Tier Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament slated for January 31 – February 12 in Katowice, Poland. Known as one of the most prestigious CS:GO events, it regularly features some of the best teams and produces some of the season’s most memorable moments.

However, for the upcoming competition, there were some unanswered questions, namely whether the reigning Major champions, Outsiders, would be able to attend. Having booked a direct invite for IEM Katowice by winning the IEM Rio Major, Outsiders faced the possibility that most of its roster would be forced to skip traveling to Katowice due to Poland’s travel ban on Russian citizens.

However, the concerns were dismissed on Thursday. According to the tournament organizers, there is legally nothing that would prevent the Russian CS:GO players from entering Poland and competing in the $1 million tournament at the end of January.

“As of now, there is no local law indicating that any given team or player cannot enter the premises of Poland and, therefore, not participate in the upcoming tournament in Katowice,” read ESL’s statement.

“EFG [ESL FACEIT Group] remains compliant with all international laws and sanctions, and we will continue to monitor and reshape our global and local business strategies to reflect that.”

Even though Russian citizens can’t enter Poland through external European Union borders and from outside Schengen Area, those who hold valid visas can still travel to Poland through other Schengen countries, namely through Germany.

While the current situation makes it tougher for Russian citizens to travel to Europe, the CS:GO fans will mostly be interested in knowing that Outsiders are cleared to compete at IEM Katowice – which brings the end to speculations of the reigning Major champions having to forfeit their spot at the event.

24 Teams $1 Million On The Line

With Outsiders allowed to compete, they join IEM Cologne 2022 champions FaZe Clan and ESL Pro League Season 16 champions Team Vitality as one of three confirmed teams to attend IEM Katowice 2023.

The tournament will welcome 24 CS:GO teams, including five squads that will receive a direct invite based on their ESL World Ranking. Joining the eight directly invited teams will be 14 Play-In squads, comprised based on their World Ranking, Mistrzostwa Polski, and Fnatic, who already hold a Play-In invite for their success at Elisa Masters Espoo 2022.

IEM Katowice 2022 will kick off with the Play-In Stage (January 31 – February 1), where 16 teams will compete in a double-elimination bracket. All opening matches will be best-of-one (Bo1), while the remaining will be played as Bo3, with the top eight teams advancing to the Group Stage.

The Group Stage will divide the 16 remaining teams into two double-elimination format (GSL) groups of eight teams each. All games will be played as Bo3, with the top three teams from each group advancing to the playoffs.

Group winners will receive a direct invite to the semifinals, runner-ups will advance to the quarterfinals as upper seeds, whereas the third-placed teams will receive a lower seed.

The tournament will conclude with the playoffs (February 10-12), with a single-elimination bracket, where all games besides the grand finals will be played as Bo3. The finals will be played on February 12 as Bo5 to determine the IEM Katowice champions and which team will take home $400,000 in tournament winnings and a ticket for IEM Cologne 2023.