ESL One Cologne 2018 Recap: Natus Vincere Stand Tall

After six days of intense action, Natus Vincere have finally done it, winning ESL One Cologne 2018 and lifting the trophy in front of a sold-out crowd at Lanxess Arena in Cologne.

With all of the top CS:GO teams gathered in ESL One Cologne 2018, Natus Vincere displayed a very disciplined yet attractive game that led them to victory. BIG, the runner-ups, barely managed to avoid a clean sweep in the Grand Finals, losing to Natus Vincere 3-1.

A Rough Start for the Eventual Champions

ESL One Cologne

Image via HTLV

Day 1 of ESL One Cologne 2018 was not particularly full of surprises. Except, well, for Natus Vincere’s loss to G2 Esports, who went on to stun Mousesports, who were playing their first tournament with their new player, Janusz ‘Snax‘ Pogorzelski, with Kenny ‘kennyS‘ Schrub and Edouard ‘SmithZz‘ Dubourdeaux leading the way. Then, in the lower brackets, Ence eSports showed some great tactical play, eliminating a very bad Ninjas in Pyjamas team and mousesports — Jere ‘sergej‘ Salo played a brutal series as he managed to get 62 kills in two maps, which earned him a rating of 1.54 according to hltv.org —  before falling victim to Natus Vincere. 

All in all, however, the favourites grabbed comfortable wins over their opponents.

The Elimination / Lower Bracket Matches

Day 2 of ESL One Cologne 2018 started with a match between Renegades and B.O.O.T-d[S, with the Australians grabbing an important 2-0 win to send their opponents packing. North then eliminated Team Liquid while MIBR’s first tournament did not go as planned as they were simply no match against FaZe Clan. Although they had a chance to make a lower bracket run, BIG’s lose to Fnatic meant that only one of them would go to the playoffs, with BIG taking the series 2-1. 

Fun fact: all of the matches played in Day 2 of ESL One Cologne 2018 ended 2-0. That’s six total matches in a row that ended in a sweep.

A Do or Die Day 3

Day 3 of ESL One Cologne 2018 was a do or die moment for some of the teams. G2 Esports, for one, had their work cut out for them as they had to play a brilliant Astralis team. Though underdogs, G2 Esports gave Astralis a good run for their money, as they made a comeback, going from 11-4 to 15-15, but eventually fell short in overtime and were defeated 19-16 on Dust2. After that, Nuke was pretty easy for the Danish team as they sealed their place with a 2-0 win.

As mentioned earlier, ENCE esports would have had a legitimate shot at advancing to the playoffs. At least, if not for Natus Vincere. Led by Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev, who dropped 78 kills throughout 3 maps, the dark horses of the tournament stood no chance. FaZe Clan then defeated Fnatic 2-1 while the eventual runner-ups BIG managed to pull off an upset versus MIBR.

The matchup between BIG and MIBR was a total nail-biter, with the former securing their berth in the playoffs with a 22-20 victory on the decider map, Inferno. 

The Fight of the Titans

ESL One Cologne

Image via HTLV

Natus Vincere and Fnatic had the honor to play the first match in front of the German crowd. As hyped as the game was, it was not particularly entertaining, as Natus Vincere won in comfortable fashion. After that, it was BIG’s turn to play against G2 Esports and the hometown team delivered, crushing G2 Esports 2-0.

The Semifinals

ESL One Cologne

Image via HLTV

Day 5 of ESL One Cologne 2018 brought us very hard games. Astralis faced off against Natus Vincere in the semifinals. Although Natus Vincere edged out Atralis on their pick, Overpass, they stood no chance on Nuke. However, Inferno proved to be a great pick for both teams, and the decider could’ve easily gone both ways, but Natus Vincere managed to squeak out a win and close out the series with a 16-13 result.

Meanwhile, BIG apparently just loves pulling off upsets in front of their hometown crowd. Up against FaZe Clan, the hometown team started off on the wrong foot, losing their map pick in overtime. But, they rebounded as everyone stepped up on Train where they eeked out a 13-16 win. The momentum from that win allowed them to close out the series with a dominant performance on Inferno, 16-6.

The Grand Finals

ESL One Cologne

Image via HLTV

Although BIG had all the momentum going for them after what they did to FaZe Clan earlier in the tournament, S1mple and Natus Vincere were prepared for the challenge. Having a significant advantage when it came to map pool, Natus Vincere closed out the first game on Overpass without much effort. BIG managed to rebound and take the second map on Dust2. However, they simply stood no chance once Natus Vincere’s star players started stepping up. s1mple and Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov took turns taking over after BIG’s lone win as Natus Vincere won Maps 3 and 4, which was played on Train and Inferno, respectively.

A Big Win for Natus Vincere and S1mple

ESL One Cologne

Image via HLTV

Anyone watching ESL One Cologne 2018 knew that s1mple was going to receive the tournament’s MVP award.

Throughout the entire tournament, he averaged a 1.37 rating with an impact rating of 1.44. Of course, this isn’t to say that s1mple didn’t get any help. electronic, in particular, was also huge for Natus Vincere. He ended the tournament as the third best player overall with an average of 1.31. 

Who knows, if Natus Vincere keeps on playing on this level, they might be able to create a dynasty!

What do you think of Natus Vincere’s chances going forward? Do you think they’ll be able to parlay their success at ESL One Cologne 2018 to even more tournament wins? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below. 

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