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Sam Tech Girl Wright hosting IEM Katowice

Desk Host at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2024

A personal recap of this iconic Counter-Strike event

At the start of 2024, I jumped on a plane from Copenhagen, Denmark and flew to Katowice, Poland – to be one of four desk hosts at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice. IEM Katowice forms part of the Intel Extreme Masters tour and is one of the most illustrious Counter-Strike events held each year. The Spodek arena in Katowice is usually sold out on final day as the best teams battle it out for a share of the one million dollar prize pool. The event is split into three sections – namely the Play-Ins, Group Stages and Playoffs. During Play-Ins and Group Stages two streams run concurrently to bring the action to fans around the world. I was one of the desk hosts on the secondary stream for these two stages.

Sam Tech Girl Wright hosting IEM Katowice

IEM Katowice was probably one of the toughest broadcast jobs I’ve had to do in a long time. The job itself, not so much, even though there is always immense (self-inflicted) pressure to put on a great and entertaining show that lives up to the gravitas of this event. I’m actually talking about the mental battle I was going through at this event. I’d started to feel somewhat uneasy while hosting BLAST Premier Spring Groups, the feeling didn’t lessen on arriving in Poland. I kept trying to find reasons for this feeling and was jumping between a couple of things: the first is that I received pretty bad news before heading to IEM regarding another gig I, incorrectly, thought I was confirmed for. My mom was ill and on arriving in Poland for IEM Kato I found out she’d need to go get a bunch of tests which made me extremely nervous (as I wasn’t at home to be with her) and I started fixating on an incident that had happened late in the previous year, on a desk I was hosting. I became obsessed with trying to make sure everyone around me was happy at all costs which, in hindsight, probably just annoyed everyone around me more than anything. All of this was weighing heavily on me but more so was the fact that I felt like I couldn’t get hold of my emotions. I wanted to cry all the time with no explanation. I was very grateful to colleagues who chatted me through it in shuttle rides to and from work or in the green room. It was nice to be able to lean on the women working this event (both in front of camera and behind) who understood some of the stuff I was feeling. Ironically, this week, months after the event, I’m finally feeling like myself again. I have an issue with my thyroid and have for some time. I’m on chronic medication but my body had stopped reacting to the meds (probably around November, steadily worsening as time went on, without my knowledge). My hormones were all out of sync, my body was at war with itself and everything I was feeling: from chronic fatigue to extreme anxiety when being around people was, my doctor is 95% sure, linked to this. We’ve since changed up my meds and, as mentioned, I’m feeling myself. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the balance right again and I’ll be back to my usual self!

The Tournament itself

Sam Tech Girl Wright hosting IEM Katowice

I don’t think any of the above actually showed on camera or during the event. I was proud of the work we did and the tournament as a whole. It was so exciting for me, to open the first day of IEM Katowice Play-Ins with Freya and Sjokz. Two of my idols but, also, there is something rad about three women opening one of the biggest Counter-Strike events of the year.

@techgirlza Butchered the pronounciation of Katowice 😭🙈 #iemkatowice #cs2 #counterstrike #esports #techgirlza #broadcast #GamingOnTikTok ♬ original sound – Sam “Tech Girl” Wright

We had some great moments throughout the event and I got to work with an awesome group of analysts who bought the stories to life. Spirit would end up winning IEM Katowice after the wonder kid Donk put on a madly impressive showing throughout the event. We got some great games to talk about and there was something extremely magical being in the hall of heroes, seeing so many incredible players’ faces hanging from the ceiling and then getting to see some of them sitting underneath their own banners!

Straight from Kato the teams and much of the talent headed on to the European RMRs for the PGL Copenhagen Major, the first CS2 Major, and I’d like to think myself and my colleagues helped contribute to the foundations of those incredible storylines that were built throughout the Major. The production team and folks behind the scenes were also awesome. Especially our amazing talent managers, who I think picked up I was struggling a bit and were super supportive. I also got to work with a South African producer on this show which was so damn cool. That was definitely a special one.

What’s next

Sam Tech Girl Wright hosting IEM Katowice

As I mentioned earlier I thought I had another Counter-Strike event lined up and that ended up not being the case. At the time I was pretty bleak but I do think the universe works in weird ways – coming home forced me to realise a bit quicker that something was wrong with my body and go to the doctor – which ultimately led me to where I am now: feeling like a human again and not like I’m losing my mind. I look back on IEM Katowice rather proudly. Despite feeling less than myself and struggling with my health (even though I didn’t know it at the time) I was proud of the level of work and the broadcast the whole team was able to put on. I felt like I had a chance to push myself a bit more in terms of being more playful with my analysts and showcasing a little bit of my personality – which is inherently a little sassy and cheeky. I also got to pinch myself numerous times walking into the hall of heroes and being part of such a deep legacy. Unfortunately, as I type this, I don’t have much confirmed work on the horizon, which is the nature of our work as freelance broadcasters. But I’m really hoping I can contribute to more Counter-Strike broadcasts this year. Until then I’ll work on refining my skills both as a desk host and interviewer… while also watching all the CS I can!

There is a full Facebook album here of all the photographs (courtesy of ESL and their incredible photographers) from the event. 

 

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