The first day of group play at IEM Katowice saw #1 overall seed TY qualify for playoffs as the 1st place player from group A, trailed by two more Terrans in Maru and Clem. The race for 1st place—and the invaluable quarterfinal seed it confers—ended up being very competitive, with a three-way tie seeming likely as the final series of games neared its end. However, Clem's 1-2 defeat at the hands of an already eliminated Solar determined the standings without any need for coinflips or tiebreakers.
Despite not qualifying, the KaiZi Gaming Zerg was the most compelling player of the group. Starting the group off 1-1 with a loss to TY and victory against ShoWTimE, Solar headed into a pivotal match against Maru in the third round of games. After a grueling 40 minute battle against Maru, it seemed as if Solar would finally crack open the Terran defenses with Brood Lords and take a 1-0 lead. But in an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime maneuver, Maru managed to land a desperation nuke directly on top of Solar's Brood Lords, turning a certain loss into a victory. Solar looked visibly shaken on stream, and the ruthless Maru followed up with a proxy-barracks into fast stim strategy in game two to seal the series.
It wouldn't have surprised anyone if Solar had become completely broken by that defeat and lost his remaining games to end his IEM Katowice run. However, Solar showed remarkable composure and poise to gather himself in time for his next series with ByuN, where he calmly collected a 2-0 victory in macro games. While Solar's elimination was already confirmed by the time of his final match against Clem, he gave it his all until the very end to take a 2-1 victory over the French Terran and decide the final group standings.
IEM Katowice continues on Monday, Feb 22 2:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group B of the RO24, featuring Serral, INnoVation, SpeCial, Dark, TIME, and Bunny.