StarCraft II at IEM World Championship Katowice – Qualifiers, format, and more

Intel® Extreme Masters

Intel® Extreme Masters has a long-standing relationship with StarCraft® II and we thrilled to once again welcome world’s top players to the city of Katowice to compete for the coveted trophy, and a lion’s share of the US$378,618 prize pool. The prize pool increased from last year’s US$250,000 thanks to the SC2 WarChest. Additionally, for each group stage victory, a player will be awarded US$200.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about qualifying and playing at the tournament.

Overall schedule

  • January – Global online qualifiers begin
  • Monday, February 26 – Ro76 at the ESL Arena, Katowice
  • Tuesday, February 27 – Ro76 at the ESL Arena, Katowice
  • Wednesday, February 28 – Tournament break
  • Thursday, March 1 – Ro24 at IEM EXPO
  • Friday, March 2 – Ro24 at IEM EXPO
  • Saturday, March 3 – Ro12 at IEM EXPO
  • Sunday, March 4 – Ro4 & Ro2 inside the Spodek Arena

Online qualifiers

There will be 4 global qualifiers, all consisting of 2 stages. 11 players who will top the second stages of the qualifiers will be invited to the group stage (Ro24):

  • 3 from KR qualifier #1
  • 2 from KR qualifier #2
  • 3 from EU qualifier
  • 3 from NA qualifier

All qualifiers are open to all participants, with no regional restrictions.

Stage 1 – Open for all

  • Single elimination bracket – Bo3
  • Deciding matches (Ro16) – Bo5 (top 8 qualify to the closed qualifier)

Stage 2 – 16 players (8 qualified from stage 1, 8 from regional WCS results (Blizzcon, then WCS points): Asia+Oceania / Europe+Africa / Americas

  • Double elimination bracket – Bo3
  • Deciding matches – Bo5 (top 3 qualify to the main event group stages (Ro24))


Korean server qualifier #1 – SIGN UP

  • Stage 1 – January 2
  • Stage 2 – January 3

Korean server qualifier #2 – SIGN UP

  • Stage 1 – January 16
  • Stage 2 – January 18

European server qualifier – SIGN UP

  • Stage 1 – January 18
  • Stage 2 – January 22

North American server qualifier – SIGN UP

  • Stage 1 – January 22
  • Stage 2 – January 23

The best 11 players from all stage 2 online qualifiers go advance to compete in the main event.

Offline qualifiers (ESL Arena in Katowice)

Offline qualifiers (Ro76) will be held at the ESL Arena in Katowice, Poland on February 26-27.

  • Open sign-up to every global competitor (cap is 64 players – players determined via ranking prioritization)
  • 64 players divided into 4 double-elimination brackets.
  • Top 3 players from each bracket advance to main tournament group stage.

Group stage (IEM EXPO)

The group stage (Ro24) will be played at IEM EXPO on March 1-2.

  • Rogue is invited directly as Blizzcon champion and IEM seasonal winner (IEM Shanghai).
  • 4 groups of 6 players played out in round robin format.
  • All matches best of 3.
  • First place in each group advances directly to the quarterfinals.
  • Second and third place in each group advance to the Round of 12.

Rules on tiebreakers

  • Overall matches won
  • Overall map score difference
  • Matches won among tied players
  • Map score difference among tied players
  • Tie-breaker match
  • Coin toss

Playoffs (IEM EXPO and Spodek arena)

The Ro12 will be played on March 3 at IEM EXPO. Semifinals and the grand final will be played in Spodek on March 4.

  • Single-elimination bracket of 12 players.
  • Round of 12, quarterfinals, and semifinals are best of 5.
  • Grand final is best of 7.

Good luck!

We wish all of the participants the best luck in the upcoming qualifiers and cannot wait to see the very best in Katowice! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the IEM Twitter and Facebook as we post all event updates.

Tickets to the event can be found here if you want to witness world-class StarCraft II in person!