IEM Katowice SC2 2022: Replacement policies and event protocols

We are excited to be back for Intel® Extreme Masters: Katowice 2022. We are opening the doors to the Spodek Arena and returning with a live event experience for the first time in almost two years. We’ll furthermore celebrate the 10th anniversary of IEM Katowice as the world’s greatest will compete for $500,000 at this ESL Pro Tour Championship.

We are days away from the tournament starting, before that, we’d like to lay out how the tournament will work in relation to replacement players as well as COVID-19. With existing global and local regulations in mind, we have implemented precautions to ensure that we are able to bring ourselves, the players, and fans safely back together again in the Spodek Arena.

How replacements work leading up to the tournament

Ro24 - Group Stages

Currently the Ro24 groups have 4 open slots that will come from the Ro36 bracket play. By default, the Ro24 will not have any direct replacements should anyone be unable to attend. Instead the number of players that advance from the Ro36 will be increased.

All newly created Ro36 advancements will be seeded at random into the Ro24. Any form of seeding would be an integrity risk as it would make it possible for players to understand which group they are placed into ahead of any advancement matches being played. 

In the scenario where a significant amount of Ro24 players are unable to travel and therefore compete, the following process is applied:

  • If 3 or more players in one group drop, we will redraw all groups.
  • If 8 or more players from the whole Ro24 drop, we will promote the required number of Ro36 players. This will be based on global EPT points. We will then re-fill the Ro36 - according to Ro36 replacement rules which can be read below.
  • The deadline for these changes to happen is the end of the day on February 21st.


We will ensure that any new qualifying matches will be broadcast to ensure our tournament is followed as intended.

Ro36 - Bracket

The replacement process is as follows:

  • Ahead of the tournament, a replacement player comes from the same region of those unable to attend in order of EPT Standings. If no player from the same region is available, the slot falls back to the home region (Europe).
  • Between seven days before the scheduled start of the first match and 21st February (end of day UTC), we still try to be as true to the original slot as possible but as this becomes less possible to arrange due to travel necessities (coordinating visas, flights, and similar needs) we may also replace from players within the home region (Europe).
  • After the end of day February 21st: No replacement happens.

The above structure exists to allow the tournament to retain regional fairness and representation. However as we approach the tournament the realities of travel logistics make this impossible to strictly maintain and we will look to reduce tournament byes to ensure the best competition for the players and community.

How does the above affect IEM Katowice 2022?

  • Armani has confirmed he is unable to attend and Ryung has accepted the invite as the next player available from the Korea standings.
  • TIME and Cyan are awaiting a final decision from local authorities, anticipated this week. 
    • If TIME is unable to attend: An additional slot will open in the Ro24 with the procedure outlined above.
    • If Cyan is unable to attend: Due to the time remaining ahead of the tournament and as our rules outline a replacement from Europe the next in line is uThermal.


Today we are ecstatic to share with you that the two players from China, Cyan and TIME,  have received all necessary paperwork to attend and will be traveling to IEM Katowice to compete next week. Thanks to a tremendous combined effort from our Player Management team, officials within China, and the players themselves for going above and beyond to make sure we can have full regional representation at the ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II Championship.

With both players having stellar years, especially the amazing results TIME has put up this season by reaching playoffs in two Season Finals and a hard fought semifinal against Maru at the recent Last Chance it will be incredible to see them in person. Onwards and upwards, and see you in Katowice soon!

Our event protocols

Over the last 9 months, we’ve gained experience through operating multiple in-person tournaments on LAN during the pandemic. We’ve established strong know-how and developed a range of protocols that have safely navigated teams and players through to tournament conclusion. We continue to review and develop our protocols to ensure that they confirm with the current developments related to the pandemic.

The following has been provided to all competitors ahead of IEM Katowice 2022.

The Foundations

  • Vaccinated players will not be restricted to official venues (i.e. Accommodation, Studio, Arena), but are asked to exercise their discretion and follow the standard COVID-19 countermeasures if out in public.
  • All additional personnel are required to be fully vaccinated.
  • All players will have access to private spaces and services while in the official hotel to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
  • Medical face masks are required within official venues (except while eating, drinking or competing), with hand sanitizers etc. are available throughout all areas.
  • Social distancing is to be practiced with limited prolonged contact with other players and all non-ESL personnel.
  • Respect and abide by all local Polish / Katowice COVID-19 rules and regulations.

Protocols & Principles for players

  • Outside of the established protocols and best practices, relative to IEM Katowice we will specifically have the below in place. 

    Ahead of travel to Katowice

    • All players, coaches & additional personnel are required to perform a pre-travel PCR test within 24 hours of departure, before traveling to Poland. For cases where players are already in Poland ahead of time, a PCR test within 24 hours of departure to Katowice and the official tournament hotel is also required.
    • Players have been advised to limit their movements and contacts, ahead of traveling to Poland and take relevant precautions back home. Should a player or coach show symptoms, they should get tested immediately.

    While in Katowice

    • In Poland, a positive COVID-19 test currently means a mandatory 7-day isolation period (should the authorities change this rule, teams will be informed). Fully vaccinated close contacts do not need to be isolated.
    • Should a player show symptoms, a manager or ESL representative may request an additional test at any time. A test may also be requested if required for departure back to the respective home country.

    Specifics Related to Competition

    • It will not be possible to play out of isolation due to the vast difference in the tournament environment (i.e. spectators, loud cheering, stage audio system, etc). All players will be required to be on stage and any player which may be positive and in isolation will not be allowed to continue the competition.
    • We reserve the right to review these decisions based on the situation relating to COVID-19 at the time of the play-off stages.

    All of the participating players received a brief about the protocols and principles in place on February 9th. Players were furthermore informed that those that do not abide by these principles may be subject to sanctions.

For the fans

As mentioned at the start, we’re also welcoming fans back to the first on-site audience, doing so in a safe manner is equally important to us. Therefore, let's touch on what will be in place for the fans traveling to Katowice.

Entrance policy

  • In order to attend the event, you will have to be vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
  • We do accept the following standards to prove your vaccination or recovery status: EU Digital Covid Certificate & CLEAR Health Pass (US residents only).
  • If you are from outside the EU and US, and do not have an official valid EU Digital Covid Certificate or a CLEAR Health Pass, you will not be able to enter the event.


For general information to those traveling to Katowice can be found in the event FAQ.


Hosting live event experiences is fundamental to StarCraft II and esports - we are absolutely thrilled to be back - especially for such a historic occasion! We hope everything described above gives you insight to the level of preparation we’ve been working on in hope to bring back the fire in what we do.

Come experience yourself! Tickets are still available at ESL.GG/kato22sc2 we can´t wait to be back in Katowice and offer you the best StarCraft experience in person and online!