Dubbed the world’s largest esports event, IEM Katowice is a multi-title competition based in the city of Katowice, situated in Southern Poland. First brought to the city by ESL in 2013, the event has grown considerably since then. Last year’s event saw 173,000 fans visit the Spodek—a 11,500 capacity multi-purpose arena—with a further 46 million unique online viewers catching the World Championship action—a 35 percent growth from 2016’s event numbers of 30 million.
This year’s IEM Katowice world championship was once again hosted at the Spodek arena, inviting the world’s best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Starcraftprofessionals to compete, while hosting a range of regional tournaments for other esports titles.
“The feeling of this place is unbelievable.”
By the end of the two-weekend event, Fnatic walked away from the Counter-Strike: Global Offensivetournament with the first-place prize and $250,000, followed by FaZe Clan second place with $100,000. Meanwhile, Starcraft player Lee “Rogue” Byung Rul, member of team Jin Air Green Wings, took first place and $150,800 in the final, beating 75 other players to the top.
This year also marks the fourth IEM Expo, where brands bring their hardware, gear and games to show off. Increasingly, non-endemic brands are bringing a range of products, to discover how they can connect better with esports fans.
Gamers come for a variety of reasons to the event and engage with the tournaments and brand booths differently. One fan The Esports Observer spoke to, described how he attended as many esports events as possible, and was out one day at this year’s IEM Katowice until 3am. Another fan discussed the event as “a good time to meet other people who play the game (Counter-Strike)”.