A Weekend in Katowice
"The atmosphere in the stadium is electric, and the tension is ear popping."
Excitement swept the city of Katowice, Poland, this past weekend as 100,000 participants from around the globe gathered to experience one of the world’s largest esports events. Wind whistled through the small streets leading up to the enormous Spodek Arena, boldly standing out in the distance. Lines of fans snaked around the building, looking on with red, wind swept faces. Companies such as Red Bull, Intel and ESL swarmed, throwing out their names for everyone to see. It was a madhouse of esports enthusiasts gathering to witness greatness.
The main event of the second weekend was without a doubt the Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournament, being held in the large indoor arena. Teams were not only battling to have their names engraved on the iconic trophy, but also to walk away with an extra $250,000 in their pockets. Thousands of onlookers rushed into the arena hours before opening ceremonies would ever take place. Fighting to get the perfect seat, making sure not to miss a second of the action. Looking around at anxious faces, it was exhilarating to see the excitement flowing through the building. Chants roared, and adults sat in seats just as excited as the children next to them.
Seconds ticked down on the bomb projected on the screen, and before our eyes fire was spouting from the stage in violent bursts. Dramatic music took over the hall and a crowd of well over 10,000 went ballistic. From the back of the stage a glimpse of the historic trophy every team involved was determined to put their name on became visible, as it made its way to the forefront. The teams who would be competing stepped onto the stage, taking in the scene before them. It was a setting many will remember for a lifetime.
Tim Ashton, European Esports Coordinator for SteelSeries stated in a meeting “IEM Katowice is THE CS:GO event of the year. Others might be bigger, have better prizes or what not, but none carry more prestige.” Watching these players compete, it became obvious that winning this one meant a little more than other tournaments this past season. Ashton also states “It shows too. Not just for the teams, but for the crowd. The atmosphere in the stadium is electric, and the tension is ear popping. If you can only go to one event a year, this is the one.”
Once the dramatization had come to a close and games were underway it became possible to experience the rest of what this event had to offer. Walking back and fourth between the show and expo arenas, eyes feasted on the worlds best esports technology, apparel to support favourite teams, brands waving you down to try new products, cosplayers dressed to the nines as their favourite character and suited up business men. It was a meeting place for everyone involved in the world of esports. It was a place people of all backgrounds, races and religion came together for no other reason than to have fun and enjoy something everyone present held an immense amount of passion for.
As news of esports continues to spread worldwide, some still do not understand the levels it has already reached. The days of flipping through TV and seeing videogames, filling stadiums with thousands and paying people to play are not a dream of the future, but a reality, which is already upon us. Esports is the industry millions are busy preparing to take over the world, as we know it.