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IEM Katowice 2024: Team Spirit and BASILISK’s Joona “Serral” Sotala BASILISK’s Joona “Serral” Sotala crowned champions

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The Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice 2024 Grand Finals have concluded, with BASILISK’s Joona “Serral” Sotala named the new StarCraft® II Champion and Team Spirit being crowned the Counter-Strike 2 Champions. While BASILISK’s Joona “Serral” Sotala returns for a second time, Team Spirit joins the legendary Hall of Heroes for the first time in history.

Team Spirit’s dominance in the Counter-Strike 2 Grand Finals saw an epic display of the young team of prodigies as they took down the veterans and one of the favorites to win the competition, FaZe Clan. Ranked #19 in the ESL World Ranking, Team Spirit beat the #1 ranked FaZe Clan in a decisive 3-0 victory. Making his tier 1 competition debut, teen superstar Danil “donk” Kryshkovets took fans’ breath away in what many are calling the best individual performance in history.

The fastest-selling IEM Katowice tournament in history, the event saw a peak viewership of over 972,000* for Counter-Strike 2 and more than 77,000* for StarCraft® II. The sold-out Spodek Arena and MCK Auditorium welcomed over 65,000 fans across four days of live StarCraft® II competition, and three days of Counter-Strike action, complemented by IEM Expo.

The return of the IEM Expo gave esports and gaming enthusiasts from Poland and beyond the opportunity to test the latest Intel® powered gaming hardware, get involved in partner activations, try out the newest games, marvel at cosplay costumes, and much more.

Counter-Strike 2

Play-In Stage & Group Stage

The tournament commenced on January 31 with the Play-In Stage, during which 16 teams battled it out for eight of the 16 spots available in the Group Stage. Local heroes ENCE proceeded to the second stage of the tournament, amongst others.

The Group Stage ran from February 3 – 6 and saw teams divided into two groups of eight, where the top two teams from the upper bracket and the top team from the lower bracket advanced to the Playoffs. Group A saw Team Spirit dominate the upper bracket, with FaZe Clan coming in second and Team Falcons emerging victorious in the lower bracket.

In Group B, G2 Esports beat out HEROIC in the lower bracket final to claim their spot in the Playoffs. In the upper bracket, MOUZ and ENCE secured the final two spots, meaning that IEM Katowice 2024 marks the first time in eight years that a majority Polish team has reached the Playoffs.

Playoffs

The final stage of the competition kicked off on Friday, February 9, with a quarterfinal clash between IEM Katowice 2023 Champions, G2 Esports, and IEM Katowice 2022 Champions, FaZe Clan. After many close rounds, the determination and teamwork of FaZe Clan proved to be stronger, leading to a 2-0 win and a spot in the semifinals.

The second quarterfinal was also an emotional rollercoaster for the Polish fans as ENCE faced off against Team Falcons. Despite having the full backing of the arena, it was ultimately Team Falcons who claimed the victory with a narrow win on map 3 and a final score of 2-1.

Saturday, February 10, saw the semifinals take place, with the top two teams from the Group Stage up against the quarterfinal winners. FaZe Clan proved themselves against MOUZ as they secured their spot in the Grand Final with a flawless 2-0 score, and Team Spirit dominated Team Falcons 2-0 to secure the other spot.

Grand Final

Following impressive performances in the Playoffs where neither team dropped a map, FaZe Clan and Team Spirit geared up on Sunday and took the stage for the Grand Final.

The first game of the day saw an even 6-6 score at half-time before Team Spirit managed to pull ahead and secure a 13-9 victory over FaZe Clan, in large part thanks to Danil “donk” Kryshkovets’ incredible performance.

The second game was closer, with FaZe Clan narrowly missing out on a win and the game ending in a 13-11 victory for Team Spirit.

The third and final game, however, saw Team Spirit dominate, winning round after round and concluding the match with a 13-3 score. Team Spirit were an unstoppable force, claiming the title of Champion with an impressive 3-0 final score in the best-of-5 Grand Final.

“I’m very happy. ” said Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov of Team Spirit. “We beat FaZe Clan 3-0. For me, it’s a really, really big achievement.”

With their win, Team Spirit will take home $400,000 of the $1,000,000 total prize pool, while also securing their spot in the IEM Cologne 2024 Group Stage and entering the race to secure the Intel Grand Slam V.

One of the best professional Counter-Strike debuts of all time, Danil “donk” Kryshkovets received a lot of praise from his teammates as well as from the wider esports community. Furthermore, for his achievements, the young Rifler has been awarded the ESL Pro Tour DHL MVP.

The ESL Pro Tour (EPT) for Counter-Strike continues with ESL Challenger League Season 47 commencing online on February 13 and IEM Chengdu 2024 taking place on April 8-14, with the final three days being played out live in Chengdu, China.

For more information and the latest updates about ESL’s Counter-Strike esports ecosystem, head to the official ESL Pro Tour website, and follow ESL CS on X, Instagram, and Facebook.

StarCraft® II

Group Stage

The Group Stage ran from February 8 – 10 and saw 24 players split into four groups of six to compete in a Round-Robin format live in front of their fans at the MCK Auditorium.

After two and a half days of fierce battles, HeRoMaRinE (Group A), SHIN (Group B), Serral (Group C), and Dark (Group D) topped their respective groups and secured themselves a direct spot in the quarterfinals.

Surprisingly, reigning World Champion Oliveira and Gamers8 Champion Reynor fell short in the Group Stage and it was Solar, GuMiho (both Group A), Cure, Clem (both Group B), ByuN, SKillous (both Group C), Dark and herO (both Group D) who advanced to the Playoffs, following some close battles that kept the community on the edge of their seat.

Playoffs

With the Group Stage concluded, the second- and third-placed teams of each group continued their fight for victory in the Round of 12, with Clem, Dark, ByuN, and Cure coming out on top.

In the quarterfinals, Serral continued his reign without dropping a single map by beating Clem 3-0, while Dark and Maru beat their countrymen SHIN and Byun 3-1 and 3-2 respectively. In the fourth quarterfinal, Cure proved to be dominant over HeRoMaRinE, who, until then, had not yet lost a map in the competition

The first semifinal was a clash between Zergs as Serral and Dark entered the final part of the competition with Serral taking out Dark 3-1. During the second semifinal it was Maru and Cure’s turn to show who was the strongest Terran, with Maru eventually claiming a 3-0 victory.

The long-longed-for Grand Final between Maru and Serral promised some spectacular action, yet already early on Maru’s dedication and diligence showed to be no match for Serral’s unparalleled level of gameplay, leading to a 4-0 win on Serral’s behalf.

“It feels amazing to play in front of the Polish crowd,” said Joona “Serral” Sotala of BASILISK. “I think I gave this one my everything, and I didn’t really leave anything in myself. This was my full performance, I don’t think I can do much better.”

With his victory, Serral takes home $150,000 of the $500,000 total prize pool, on top of an additional $2,500 awarded to him for map wins in the Group Stage. For their top placementsMaru, Dark, and Cure received a direct invite to the Esports World Cup – the 2023/2024 ESL Pro Tour season’s Championship event – later this year, joining Serral and Clem who secured his spot by winning ESL SC2 Masters 2023 Summer and Winter respectively.

Next up in the ESL Pro Tour for StarCraft® II is the ESL SC2 Masters: Spring season concluding with live Finals at DreamHack Dallas in Dallas, Texas, USA, on May 31-June 2.

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eSports

Gods Reign Announces Groundbreaking Partnership with LG Electronics

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Gods Reign, a premier esports organization headquartered in Bangalore and renowned for its top-tier teams and influential content creators, has announced a monumental partnership with LG Electronics. As part of this collaboration, LG UltraGear™, the industry leader in gaming monitors, will serve as the exclusive display partner for Gods Reign’s Counter-Strike 2 lineup, ushering in a new era of immersive gaming experiences.

Commenting on the exciting partnership, Rohith KR, CEO, Gods Reign, said, “We are thrilled to partner with LG UltraGear™ as our display partners for the next year. Gods Reign believes in elevating esports talent across a variety of different games, and with the rise of Counter Strike 2, we entered the game with confidence, and have managed to find a brand that is aligned with our vision to grow esports in India through investment across a variety of games. Furthermore, we have built a popular content creator lineup, which we will be leveraging to bring more eyeballs towards LG UltraGear’s state-of-the-art gaming monitors. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to growing the esports landscape and the fanbase that Gods Reign has built through our performances in esports tournaments.”

LG UltraGear™ will be the exclusive display partner for Gods Reign’s Counter-Strike 2 esports lineup, which stands as one of the nation’s most formidable teams. The team has bagged prestigious titles like the $240,000 Skyesports Masters 2023, the PGL Major Copenhagen 2024: SEA Open Qualifier, and the recently concluded Dust2.in Masters #7 alongside victories against international opponents in the Skyesports Souvenir.

Notably, LG UltraGear™ will also forge connections with Gods Reign’s esteemed content creators, including Red Parasite, Thor Gaming, HarshdeepSinghYT, AJ Jelly Gaming, Miss Senorita, and Siddha Gaming. With a combined social media reach exceeding 6 million, these influencers represent a direct link between LG UltraGear™ and the vibrant gaming community, facilitating meaningful engagement and brand resonance.

LG UltraGear™ will receive strategic placement in the jersey of Gods Reign’s Counter-Strike 2 lineup. Additionally, the organization will be closely collaborating with the brand for digital and on-ground events, show matches with influences, and social media promotions.

Gods Reign’s Counter-Strike 2 squad is primed for further success in the upcoming 2024 Skyesports Counter-Strike 2 Roadmap, boasting a staggering $1 million prize pool across six global events.

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SOFTSWISS Sportsbook Wins Innovative E-sports Product at SPiCE South Asia 2024

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SOFTSWISS Sportsbook Wins Innovative E-sports Product at SPiCE South Asia 2024
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SOFTSWISS, a global tech expert with over 15 years of experience in iGaming, announces the triumph of its Sportsbook at the SPiCE South Asia Eventus Awards 2024. The solution clinched the Innovative E-sports Product of the Year title. 

The SPiCE South Asia Eventus Awards brought together industry leaders to celebrate excellence and innovation within the gaming landscape in India and Sri Lanka. This year, the event focused on regulatory updates, regional gaming trends, and best practices. The Innovative E-sports Product of the Year award honours the most innovative product that has significantly impacted the esports community.

This accolade solidifies the SOFTSWISS Sportsbook position as a reliable sports betting software platform with a gamification focus, which can be seamlessly integrated with any existing casino platform on the market. It celebrates the product’s unique and innovative features that enhance the overall esports experience for players, fans, and industry professionals.

Last year, the SOFTSWISS Sportsbook team observed a significant rise in esports. This category became one of the top four most favoured sports by Bet Count, with Counter-Strike leading the pack.

The  award is a prominent edition to the product success story, including its recent achievements:

  • Obtaining the GLI-33 certificate and MGA licence
  • Partnership with the Sportradar Integrity Exchange for real-time monitoring and detection of suspicious betting behaviour
  • Integration with the Game Aggregator and the Jackpot Aggregator via a single API for more gamification and jackpot opportunities
  • Improvement of iFrame Authentication and Deposit Forms for third-party clients.

Alexander Kamenetskyi, Head of SOFTSWISS Sportsbook, expresses his delight: “We are incredibly proud to achieve the ‘Innovative Esports Product of the Year’ title. This recognition reflects the tireless efforts and dedication of the entire team, who strive to understand player needs, develop our product, and deploy creative approaches in our solutions to keep pace with the dynamic world of iGaming and esports in particular. I want to extend our gratitude to our reliable partner, Oddin.gg, for their invaluable collaboration, which played a significant role in this achievement. This award is a powerful motivator for us to continue pushing boundaries and delivering exceptional experiences for players worldwide.”

 

About SOFTSWISS 

SOFTSWISS is an international tech company supplying software solutions for managing iGaming projects. The expert team, which counts over 2,000 employees, is based in Malta, Poland, and Georgia. SOFTSWISS holds a number of gaming licences and provides one-stop-shop iGaming software solutions. The company has a vast product portfolio, including the Online Casino Platform, the Game Aggregator with thousands of casino games, the Affilka affiliate platform, the Sportsbook Platform and the Jackpot Aggregator. In 2013, SOFTSWISS was the first in the world to introduce a Bitcoin-optimised online casino solution.

 

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Team Liquid, Ninjas In Pyjamas, ENCE, and BIG join $350,000 Skyesports Masters 2024 in India

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Skyesports, the premier esports tournament organizer based in India catering to gamers across Asia, has officially announced the initial lineup of invited Counter-Strike 2 teams set to compete in the highly anticipated Skyesports Masters 2024, as the company eyes global expansion. Scheduled to unfold offline in India from April 8 to 14, this thrilling event promises a week-long spectacle of intense Counter-Strike action, as eight formidable teams lock horns to become the ultimate masters and for a share of the staggering $350,000 prize pool.

Among the distinguished participants revealed in this first wave of invitations are some of the most renowned names in Counter-Strike esports:

  • Team Liquid

  • Ninjas In Pyjamas

  • ENCE

  • BIG

Team Liquid and Ninjas In Pyjamas are two of the most notable names in Counter-Strike esports, with the latter being a Major winning organization. Furthermore, ENCE is a world-famous team from Poland, headlined by the 4-time Major winning player, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander. Last but not the least, Germany’s BIG will also be competing in the Skyesports Masters with a stellar lineup.

The four teams will be joined by two more invited teams and the champion of the Europe Qualifiers. Finally, the champion of the India Qualifier will also compete in the Skyesports Masters 2024, providing the home fans with a local team to rally behind. The details for the Europe and India Qualifiers will be revealed at a later date. With the final eight teams, fans are set to be treated with intense Counter-Strike esports action as the world’s best lock horns for the title. Stay tuned to Skyesports’ Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook handles for more information.

With notable teams participating, a $350,000 prize pool, and a seven-day LAN event, the Skyesports Masters is set to feature nail-biting Counter-Strike esports action for fans. The eight teams will compete in a double-elimination bracket to determine the champion.

The Skyesports Masters is a part of Skyesports’ 2024 roadmap for Counter-Strike 2, which includes a total prize pool of $1 million across six international tournaments, as Skyesports solidifies its presence in the global esports roadmap for the FPS. The first of these is the Skyesports Grand Slam 2024, set to take place in Pune, India from March 14 to 16 with four teams – one from India, one from Australia, and two invited international teams – locking horns for a chunk of the $50,000 prize pool.

 Besides the Skyesports Grand Slam and the Skyesports Masters, Skyesports will be bringing the Championship 6.0, Skyesports Souvenir Colombo, Skyesports Global Tour in Thailand, and the India vs Pakistan Series in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The Skyesports Masters was launched in 2023 with an impressive $240,000 prize pool. In its first year, eight esports organizations competed across a month-long regular season leading into the Playoffs in Bangalore, India for the title. Now, the premium IP is being expanded in 2024 with a bigger prize pool and international teams.

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