IEM Katowice 2021 to be played without an audience
The $1 million event is still planned as a LAN competition, hosted at a location in Europe.
ESL has confirmed that their first ESL Pro Tour Masters Championship event of next year, IEM Katowice 2021, won't be played out in a crowd-filled arena due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tournament organizer still plans to host the tournament, scheduled for February 16-28, as an "in-person competition" which will take place at an undisclosed location in Europe. However, ESL will revert to online play instead "should COVID-19 remain a major barrier to the safety of our talent, players and staff".
Last year's edition of IEM Katowice was the first CS:GO event to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, seeing the playoffs of the tournament played out in an empty arena, where Natus Vincere lifted the trophy. Since then, ESL has hoped to return to LAN with ESL One Cologne and the IEM Global Challenge, but both events were ultimately reverted to online play.
IEM Katowice 2021 is a 24-team event with a $1,000,000 prize pool, which will award an Intel Grand Slam point and take place in the second part of February. Things will kick off with a play-in tournament (16-17 February), followed by a group stage (18-21 February), and finally, the playoffs (26-28 February), as the dates of the tournament remain unchanged.
Through the ESL Pro Tour points system and feeder tournaments, the following teams have been confirmed for the event: