CS:GO fans rejoice! I am sure that all of you are still getting over the buzz that was created during the ESL Pro League in France. That was the tournament where Team Liquid showed the world why they are currently the best squad in the world. Well, I have very good news for you fanatics out there, especially in the EU. I am glad to announce to you guys that the ESL One in Cologne is good to go!
The Cologne leg will be a part of the Intel Grand Slam series as well, where they put up a prize of $1,000,000 to whoever gets 5 wins first, and by the looks of it, Liquid is coming out ahead on it. Aside from being a Grand Slam event, ESL Cologne is a pretty big tournament in itself too. It will have a $300,000 prize pool being offered.
The tournament will start on July 2nd and will end on July 7th. The venue for the event will be the wonderful Lanxess Arena, which is usually home to concerts and other entertainment events happening in Cologne. Today we will have a look on the list of participators as well as give our betting predictions for this hot ESL One event.
There are a total of 16 teams that will be participating in this tourney. 13 out of 16 teams got invited directly to the event, while the 5 remaining teams managed to earn their spots by qualifying in regional tournaments and also the GG Bet Invitational earlier this month.
The invited teams for the event are Astralis, Big, Ence, Faze Clan, Fnatic, MiBR, Mouz, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, NRG Esports, and Renegades. The one who got their spot by winning the GG Bet Invitational is none other than Team Liquid.
Vitality and Heroic earned their spot from the EU Qualifiers. Furia, which is another Brazilian team earned it through the North American Qualifiers, while the sole Asian squad will be MVP PK from Korea.
Roster and Lineup Changes
There have been two notable roster changes that happened recently, one being somewhat fresh off the press. Ninjas in Pyjamas will be benching Dennis and will be replaced by a new face on the scene, Plopski. These changes took effect after the ESL Pro League finished.
The second roster change, and somewhat fresh is the news in the South American scene. Felps will be replaced by Lucas1 from Luminosity Gaming. Felps will currently be benched by MiBR. We do not know if this will be permanent or not but it is good to see that MiBR is making changes to the roster after some disappointing finishes this year.
The format for this event will be fairly simple. It will follow the same rules that were used during the ESL Pro League, in which these 16 players will be split into 2 groups based on their current world rankings. Only 3 squads from each group will advance to the playoffs. Those will be the group winner, the upper bracket runner up and the lower bracket winner.
All the opening matches of the Group Stage will be best of 1, while all the succeeding games up until the Grand Finals will be Best of 3. Only the Grand finals will feature a best of 5 format.
ESL One Cologne 2019 Predictions
Now the time has come for the part that has become my favorite whenever I am writing these tournament previews, the predictions list. Since the groups have not been announced by ESL yet, I will be picking the teams that will most likely find their way to the playoffs, and probably a couple of dark horse picks.
Hopefully, these 6 teams I will be picking right now will not be lumped together to form a Group of Death, although that would be so exciting to watch and a lot of people will surely pay a lot of money just to see that happen.
The status quo for competitive CS:GO has changed in these past three big Grand Slam events, starting from what happened in ESL One in Sydney, so this new predictions list will probably be looking a little bit different as my perspective on things has changed. Without further ado, or as Big John McCarthy would say, “Let’s get it on!”
For my first pick, those would come to no surprise to people who regularly watch out for my CS:GO predictions, I will be picking Astralis. Sure, they have been on a bit of a pickle lately, and have dropped down in the world rankings, but they are still considered as one of the most technical and best teams in the world. Out of all the teams participating in this tournament, I think Astralis is the one who has the biggest chance to beat Liquid in their quest for the Grand Slam title.
They are the defending champions after all, and while they made some sort of a “boo boo” during the tourney in France, I am sure that Astralis will pull through and be able to give Liquid a run for their money on this Cologne event. The 4th place finish in the ESL Pro League probably serves as a kick in the butt for them to wake up and start working towards that $1 million Maccas.
The next pick will surely be a no brainer pick. I mean with what Team Liquid has been currently doing, you would be insane not to pick them as a potential playoff contender. We all have seen how they masterfully dismantled G2 in Overpass during the last tournament, and also how they clawed their way from losing the first half of Dust 2. That and need I say it again? They are currently the best team in the world due to some factors.
Stewie, who is one of their superstars does not even complain about playing the lurk positions or the undesired positions just for the team to win. We can see how they did that when Stewie played Ramp on Nuke and also on Short A on Dust. Sure, they were flaky during the earlier part of the year, but right after their win in Sydney, I think they have a chance on setting a record for the fastest Grand Slam tourney if they keep up with their current winning streak.
My third pick is really a Cinderella story. It would be none other than NRG eSports. This year has been very good for North Americans. They were somewhat dismal in the earlier part of the year, but they managed to climb the rankings by consistently being in the top 4 teams of the big majors they are competing in. They did that during the Star Series, IEM Sydney and also during the ECS Season 7.
Heck, they even eliminated NiP and Astralis in the ECS event. And speaking of spanking Astralis, you all would remember what they did during the Pro League Group A upper brackets, where they came back from losing the first half of Train. If NRG continues to play like this, I do see a bright future for them.
My fourth pick is also another case of a Cinderella story gone right. Earlier in the year, no one even gave or even paid attention to a little team from Finland called Ence. However, the Finns surprised them, even including me! The moment they went to the grand finals of 2 different Grand Slam events was like a day of reckoning for me. When they reached the finals in Katowice, I thought at first that it was just a fluke, and it will never happen again. But boy I was wrong.
Fast forward 3 months later, they would do the same feat. They would reach the finals again in DreamHack Masters in Dallas. Out of all the Grand Slam competitors out there, only Liquid has more finals appearances than them with 3, and Ence sitting in two. One of these days, that reality will come true and they will win one of these Majors, and no one would call Ence a flakey squad again. Just like the story of the little train that could.
My fifth pick would be the Baguettes, more commonly known as Team Vitality. The last event shows us that the French have been preparing really well now that we are in the later half of the year. I mean it is not a coincidence that Vitality won the ECS tourney while G2, who has been disappointing all year long landed in the grand final of all places. I was actually expecting G2 to become eliminated early on due to past performances.
But enough of that, we are here for Vitality. What makes me pick them is that they have been very consistent lately. NBK and the crew must be putting in a lot of work to be able to achieve these kinds of performances in events. Who knows, this might be the resurgence of the French Revolution in CS:GO if Vitality places well here in Germany.
And for my last pick, it would be none other than Faze Clan. They have been a solid top 8 performer during this year, albeit a few roster changes that happened in the recent months. I do hope that they stay with NEO this time as NEO has actually added a lot for the team recently, as during the Pro League.
With NEO being the current in-game leader, NiKo can now just focus on what he does best, fragging and hunting heads. Now the new lineup for Faze still needs time to really get settled, but with what I saw recently, they are doing really well for a squad that suffered a lot of roster and lineup changes during these past 6 months.
Now for my Dark Horse pick. It would be none other than Mouz. Mouz has been a very consistent squad that manages to compete in the higher tiers of competition. However, they have been rocked recently with a lot of roster changes just like Faze. Unlike them though, Mouz needed more time to get situated and get stabilized. I mean losing Sunny, Snax and Oskar has been a big hit for them since those three are part of the lineup that managed to win the ESL New York last year.
Another big hit was when LMBT left for Hell Raisers. But now that they have finally filled in the gaps, we will finally see the resurgence of Mouz. Will they win another major? That I am not sure, but I am sure that they will be showing good performances from here on out and become a consistent top 8 side, if not a top 4 contender.
Who do you think will be beating the stage during this 2019 ESL One Cologne event? Share your predictions in the comment section below! Good luck!