Intel and ESL announced last week the Intel Extreme Masters is returning to Katowice, Poland next year. The CS:GO tournament will feature a $1 million prize pool and 24 top teams from around the globe.
Longest running global pro-gaming circuit
The IEM 2019 will mark the 13th year of the competition, making it the longest running global pro-gaming circuit. The CS:GO competition was also awarded Major Championship status by Valve. Katowice will host the event for the seventh time in 2019.
“IEM Katowice has grown to become one of the most iconic esports tournaments in the world,” said ESL VP of Pro Gaming Michal Blicharz. “I expect that coupling the heritage of IEM with the gravity of a Valve Major Championship will elevate the tournament to what will be the most incredible IEM event in history.”
IEM 2019 will start in February with the Challenger Series. Here, the top 16 teams will battle it out at the ESL Studios in Katowice. The highest placing eight will then move on to join the top eight of the previous Major at the Legends Stage.
Taking place at the International Congress Center, this event will be all about securing a spot for the playoffs. IEM will culminate with the Champions Stage, a four-day championship clash. The Champions Stage will take place at the Spodek Arena, a popular place for various major sporting and entertainment events.
Katowice serves as a popular esports destination
The Polish city of a little under 300,000 people has become a top destination for esports events. Dota 2, CS:GO, League of Legends, and other popular games have seen Katowice host their tournaments. The competitions, coupled with an expo, have consistently attracted fans in the thousands.
“There is a large base of enthusiastic/passionate gamers in the region that support IEM and esports,” Intel Corporation Marketing Manager of Brand Partnerships and Sponsorships George Woo said back in 2016. “And the venue provides us the ability to deliver amazing gaming experiences where we have three esport tournament stages, an expo where gamers are able to experience the latest gaming products from us and our ecosystem partners, a free-to-play LAN (local area network) Tournament Area, and other gaming and social activities.”
Last year’s ESL One and IEM stops in Katowice attracted a total of 169,000 live spectators. Over two weekends, the city, in cooperation with ESL and Intel, produced an excellent show, further proving the continuous growth and growing popularity of esports.
Finally, it remains to be seen if last year’s impressive 1.7 million peak online viewers for the finale can be topped in 2019.
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