One of the oldest and most prestigious tournaments is back, as ESL One Cologne is about to kick off
One of the oldest and most prestigious tournaments is back, as ESL One Cologne is about to kick off. Buckle up and hold on to your hats, because we are in for a good one with an abundance of top teams in attendance.
ESL One Cologne is one of the oldest and most prestigious tournaments in Counter-Strike. The event may have lost its major status back in 2016 but it continues to attract the best teams in the world. This year is no exception, as the tournament features nine out of the top ten teams in the world. Out of the sixteen teams in the competition, only BIG and MVP are ranked outside of the top twenty.
The format for the competition will be the same as the one we saw last week at the ESL Pro League Season 9 finals. The sixteen teams have been split up into two groups of eight and will play through a double-elimination GSL bracket. The opening matches will be best-of-one but the remainder of the tournament will be all best-of-threes, including a best-of-five to cap it off in the final.
Last year’s winner, Natus Vincere, will be back again after a month long hiatus. Like many other teams in the competition, they will be doing so with a new addition to their team after having picked up Boombl4 from Winstrike last month. Due to the fierce competition and the difficult format, the creme tends to rise to the top at ESL One Cologne. Previous winners at this event include NaVi, SK (now MIBR), fnatic and NiP — all teams that were ranked in the top three at the time of winning.
ESL One Cologne kicks off July 2 and will run for five days in total with the winner being crowned July 7.
There has been an abundance of roster changes made recently, with MIBR, NaVi, NiP and NRG opting to acquire new players ahead of the major. Two of these players are veterans, but the other two might not be as familiar to your average viewer. Read on as we break down these recent roster changes.
After a string of poor results, the Swedish side NiP has now opted to shake things up with a roster change. The Ninjas have chosen to let go of dennis, who was brought in for Xizt in February of last year. In comes Plopski, a young Swedish player who has spent most of his time on teams like Ancient, x6tence Galaxy and Singularity in the lower tiers of professional Counter-Strike. The 17-year old is a full-time rifler with excellent spray control who is currently one of Sweden’s biggest prospects. Former player and coach, BARBARR, has compared Plopski to fnatic player Brollan and the former fnatic coach rdl has applauded him for his work ethic. It remains to be seen how Plopski will perform at this level and he will be thrown straight into the gauntlet at one of the most competitive tournaments on the circuit.
After a long career with the organization, Natus Vincere have chosen to trade veteran Edward to Winstrike for Boombl4. Boombl4 most recently played on Winstrike but he is perhaps most known for his Eleague Major run with Quantum Bellator Fire, where he played a big part in wins versus the likes of EnVyUs, mousesports and AVANGAR. Boombl4 is a versatile player with leadership qualities, which likely played a big part in why he was added to the team as in-game leader Zeus is nearing retirement.
MIBR have just announced the acquisition of LUCAS1 from Luminosity. Going the other way is felps who joined the team back in February. The move has come after a period of poor showings for MIBR after reuniting with the lineup that won them a multitude of titles back in 2017. LUCAS1 is no spring chicken to the professional circuit, having played on Brazilian teams like Immortals, Tempo Storm and most recently, Luminosity. LUCAS1 has spent the majority of his career alongside twin brother, HEN1 and his move to MIBR means that he will be separated from his brother for the first time since 2014. He likely won’t be able to contribute with any monstrous numbers statistically, but he will bring some much-needed energy to a team that hasn’t looked themselves for a long time now.
NRG have chosen to let go of long-time member, daps, in favor of stanislaw, former in-game leader of compLexity. As a team, NRG have been consistent over the last year or so, but their inability to get over the hump in semi-finals in particular likely forced the recent roster change. daps should be given plenty of credit for his time with NRG, having built the team from the ground up into a team that could make deep tournament runs in the absolute upper echelons of CS:GO. However, if there is one area where daps is severely lacking it is in the fragging department which is something stanislaw will likely be able to improve upon. stanislaw is a lurking in-game leader who at times put up big numbers on compLexity. He played a big part in compLexity’s run at the Faceit Major where he was one of the team’s top players statistically while leading his team to wins over the likes of fnatic, G2 and BIG. In terms of individual skill, NRG now has a team capable of going toe-to-toe with even the most skillful of lineups and it will definitely be interesting to see if stanislaw will be capable of taking this team to new heights.
As we have seen in the past, the creme tends to rise to the top at this particular event. As such, it is hard to ignore Liquid at the top of the board once again. They will have the added motivation of the Intel Grand Slam, which is a side-pot of $1,000,000 to whoever wins four top tier events. With three wins on the board, they are only one win away from doing so.
However, this tournament is absolutely stacked to the rafters, and with so many excellent teams in attendance, I would feel less comfortable betting Liquid than I did at the ESL Pro League finals for example. There are a few interesting spots in the 10 & 12-1 range, with last year’s winner NaVi taking the top spot. It might be too early for them to take down a tournament as stacked as this one, but with players like s1mple and electronic on the roster, they are definitely capable of making a deep run. They also have a history of doing well in tournaments with difficult formats, such as the StarSeries events. The same goes for NRG, but they do have far less upside as an outright bet than a team like NaVi. I think taking NaVi in the T2 market isn’t a bad shout.
In terms of underdogs, the value as always lies in the opening matches which are best-of-one. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a team like Renegades or Heroic pull off an upset in the opener. It’s also worth noting that teams like FURIA and mousesports are on a rise at the moment, and there might be some value on these teams in matches even late into the tournament in BO3s against stronger opponents.