5 players to watch during IEM Katowice 2023

The first big event of 2023 in CS:GO, IEM Katowice, is right around the corner. 

The capital city of Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland will once again host a bunch of the best CS:GO teams from all around the globe. In the game’s ecosystem, Katowice has become one of the most important events of the year, which usually inaugurates the season in impressive fashion.

Like every year, this time around, the champion will be crowned inside the Spodek Arena, which will host the playoffs of the tournament from Feb. 10 to 12. Last year, the fans inside the legendary venue witnessed the incredible best-of-five series between FaZe Clan and G2 Esports, which saw the former taking their first, but not last, trophy of the year.

In the coming days, FaZe will have the opportunity to defend their title and claim the Intel Grand Slam season four as a result. To do so in Katowice would be a fairytale-like scenario for karrigan and his crew. 

This is only one of the many great storylines that may unfold in Katowice. A few of them feature certain individuals who are expected to shake up the competition in Poland for a couple of reasons. 

While there are way too many of them for us to put on the list, here’s a selection of five CS:GO players to watch during IEM Katowice 2023. 


Photo via PGL

The Bosnian had a fantastic 2022, individually speaking. He placed fifth in HLTV’s top 20 ranking of the year on the back of solid performances in pivotal events around the globe. And, so far, it looks like the accolades only fueled NiKo to do even better. He began the year in stunning fashion, recording a 62-40 KD ratio in G2’s victory against Natus Vincere at BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023. He not only led the team to a tough but well-earned victory, but he also produced some individual outplays, like these four USP-S kills in a pistol round on Nuke. Furthermore, he was the best player in the tournament with a 1.48 rating, according to HLTV. 

All in all, NiKo’s form looks explosive, and he has all the experience needed to perform similarly or even better in Katowice, which may be that little extra something needed to finally get his hands on the renowned trophy.


While NiKo is one of the fiercest veterans in CS:GO, headtr1ck’s case is entirely different. The 18-year-old played in a few S-tier events in the past as NAVI’s substitute, but this year he will be trying to conquer the scene under Ninjas in Pyjamas’ banner. The up-and-coming prodigy already played his first event in the new colors during BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023, but IEM Katowice will be his first major test. 

NAVI Junior is known for introducing incredible players to the world (looking at you, m0NESY). With headtr1ck being picked by seven players as 2023’s future pro star in HLTV’s predictions, he has a huge challenge to overcome. But he has all the talent needed to do just that.


Photo by Jak Howard via BLAST Premier

Spinx had a fantastic first half of 2022, after which he was brought to Team Vitality in August. On the new team, though, he failed to produce superstar-like numbers as he did previously with ENCE.

The Israeli got off to a good start in 2023, however, since he was the fourth-best player at BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023 with a 1.32 rating, according to HLTV. This superb performance was made next to ZywOo’s fantastic showing, which elevated Vitality to topping Group A of the tournament with just one map loss against Heroic. Spinx might have just found his form on the new team and he should be watched in Katowice—he might return to being a superstar in high-pressure events.


Buster was out of the CS:GO scene for the latter half of 2022 following his benching after the PGL Antwerp CS:GO Major. Now, however, he is back in the competition after signing with Cloud9, a team more than capable of claiming the IEM Katowice 2023 trophy. 

Buster has never been a player to boast eye-watering stats or win tough clutches. With his style of play, he’s more of a support/lurker type of player. Still, since C9 is a team that has the fourth and fifth-best players of 2022 on its roster (Ax1le and sh1ro, respectively), buster’s opportunities have expanded, and so may his role. C9 have always been a championship-winning team, yet they cracked under pressure in 2022. Many CS:GO fans are curious to see how buster will influence their gameplay and how he individually will perform on a star-heavy roster.


Photo via BLAST Premier

Team Liquid are a team full of individuals that can level up their game when needed and elevate the squad to new ground. Looking at BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023, though, it looks like NAF has been standing out so far this year. 

The Canadian has been Liquid’s best player so far this year, according to HLTV. He’s been stellar in both an anchor role on the CT side, like during Liquid’s match against Complexity, and on the T side, providing crucial firepower and winning some clutches like he did against OG. He seems to have entered the year in brilliant form and needs to keep it up if Liquid want to shake off their poor start to the year by going deep at IEM Katowice 2023.

IEM Katowice 2023 begins with the play-in stage on Feb. 1.