Twice G2 Esports had found themselves in the IEM Katowice grand final, and twice they had fallen at the final hurdle. But in both they were missing the crucial piece needed — a little bit of Katowice royalty.
The King of Katowice himself, Australian superstar Justin “jks” Savage became the first player in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive history to go back-to-back in two different teams at the storied Polish tournament following G2’s 3-1 (16-12, 16-13, 11-16, 16-7) win against Heroic.
He adds a third tier one trophy to his cabinet inside of a year and spearheaded the squad’s tournament run, which saw G2’s map win streak break the twenties.
Savage’s performance (+58 K/Diff, 1.24 rating) also netted him the IEM Katowice MVP award — the first Australian to earn the award at a tier one tournament.
“I don’t know what to say, it feels good! It’s a surreal feeling,” exclaimed jks immediately after lifting the trophy.
“One and a half years ago I had no idea I’d win the first one [with FaZe], let alone to go back-to-back.”
“I feel like I’ve learned so much over the last couple of years playing on international teams and especially here at G2 — they help me so much when I play. Every day I feel like I’m learning something new.”
After a disappointing stint at Complexity, jks was left out in the cold and without a squad until he received the call up from FaZe Clan to stand-in at Katowice in 2022.
jks thanked FaZe Clan once again for giving him the opportunity that has since resulted in a rapid rise to the pinnacle of the rankings.
“Thank you to friends and family and everyone who supports me from home.”
“I have to give a special shoutout to FaZe — without them I don’t think G2 would have noticed me earlier and picked me up, and without them I probably wouldn’t be playing international CS at all.”
For the remaining few that were sceptical of G2’s number one tag, those doubts were well and truly put to bed over the ten day event.
In all, G2 would drop a single map on their way to the trophy, and still maintain a 12-series win streak heading into ESL Pro League next week.
2-0 sweeps of BIG, FaZe, NaVi and Liquid meant G2 well and truly had the favourites tag against their grand final opponent.
But the Rio Major runner-ups in Heroic were equally impressive across the group stage and playoffs, including a 2-0 (16-8, 16-8) demolition of NaVi in the semi-final.
Nuke proved a worthy opener, with the Danes opening up a 10-5 lead at the half as G2 were left puzzled on their T side.
But it was G2’s indomitable CT hold that proved the difference, with Nemanja “huNter” Kovač’s (23-18, 1.41 rating) flanks and jks (22-20, 1.16) continually multifragging from ramp that saw G2 through 16-12.
Heroic’s pick of Mirage was to follow, and again it was Heroic setting the pace early, sprinting to an 8-1 T side lead.
Eyes were on Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov, who struggled against sniper Casper “cadiaN” Møller early, but the 17 year old was unfazed.
G2 built up a five round streak to end the half, and then capitalised behind their star AWPer who led G2 in a 10-4 T half to snatch Mirage away and threaten the reverse sweep.
Again, Heroic led from the front on Inferno — an anti-eco into an 8-3 CT lead forced out multiple tactical pauses from G2 as they looked to reset.
G2 responded once more but Heroic weren’t having it this time, speeding up their T side and thriving on confidence led by René “TeSeS” Madsen (25-16, 1.29 rating).
Heroic would end G2’s map streak at 21, but any sign of further resistance would be swiftly snuffed out on Ancient.
A 9-6 CT half was very quickly converted into championship point, with G2 going 7-1 on their T side to put the Danes away once and for all.
After four missed chances in finals, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač has finally landed that elusive IEM Katowice trophy, with this event win his second with cousin huNter.
jks and G2 will return to the server in just under a fortnight at Season 17 of ESL Pro League.