An elite tier showdown will take place in Cologne just prior to the major, with nine of the ten top teams attending, missing only the Danes of Astralis. Here’s our full ESL One Cologne Preview.
ESL One Cologne Preview: Favourites
There’s no going past the current best team in the world for a favourite spot, especially SK, who’ve won four of their last 5 LAN appearances. After changing rosters a little while back to welcome João “felps” Vasconcellos to the squad and promptly departing StarSeries in the group stages, the Brazilian team are now going from strength to strength, falling occasionally and only to the elite.
The group stage, which takes place in a Swiss format, much like the previous major qualifier shouldn’t prove a problem for SK, as dismissing teams ranked much lower than them has become a regular occurrence. However, should SK face G2, the team who denied them five from five, the match may be a lot closer than any other.
Coming off hot from a strong performance at the major qualifier will for sure boost the morale of a French squad seemingly destined for greatness at the moment, after winning 3 of 4 of their last LAN showings. Showing incredible strength of five of the seven competitive maps will play into their favour against lower ranked teams in the Swiss group stage who may only play three of four.
However, it isn’t all sunshine and roses for the Frenchmen, as a weak showing against the two top teams in the world at ECS may ultimately prove to be their downfall when push comes to shove in the best of three playoffs in LANXESS Arena.
After being edged out in ECS to the powerhouses of SK, the European mix of players have a fair amount to prove to both themselves and the community. With only three appearances in three months (but placing top two in all of them), FaZe will look to bolster their résumé just prior to the Krakow Major.
Unlike the G2 and SK, the FaZe squad haven’t always had the polish when it comes to dismissing weaker opponents in convincing fashion. Therefore, the best of one Swiss group stage may punish a weak opening for the Europeans. When it comes to eliminations however, FaZe are some of the strongest in the business and look to continue that trend.
ESL One Cologne Preview: Underdogs
The top Chinese team, headed by Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu from the coaching role is coming into Cologne after what can only be described as a disappointing showing in Bucharest for the Krakow qualifiers. Although TyLoo brings a unique style of play, much different to that of Western teams, the apparent lack of polished execution was apparent in Bucharest as the Chinese struggled on their offensive halves.
Entering the tournament as the lowest ranked team won’t do TyLoo any favours, however the unpredictability of the best of one group stages can favour a team like TyLoo as they only need a couple of good maps to place highly.
For a team which was on top of their game not long ago, failure to qualify for the major was a sorry sight to behold for for the American team. With a 0-3 departure from Krakow’s qualifiers, OpTic have the world to prove in Cologne.
Unfortunately for the team, Cologne may be a last chance saloon for the once American powerhouses, as a string of letdowns may be too much for the team, potentially leading to a disbandment in the upcoming off season. By building this mentality into their play style and playing with nothing to lose, OpTic may find themselves at the advantage over teams who still have to prove themselves.
ESL One Cologne Preview: Wildcards
Virtus.Pro (Virtus Pro) are one of the legendary teams from the early days of CS:GO. However, as of late, their legendary status has quickly turned into a fringe team status. With only three appearances in the last three months, two of which ended poorly, Virtus Pro haven’t been performing anywhere near potential of days gone.
Due to the lack of appearance and mixed bag of results, the type of VP which will turn up in Cologne is to be seen. Should the Poles come prepared, they will absolutely threaten the top spots of the tournament but, if we see 2017 VP, they may not even see the main stage.
Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) have been hot and cold, as one would expect from a team featuring Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. However, with the recent struggles of former star player Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács, Na’Vi have their work cut out for them.
With poor form as of late, the CIS based team may falter early in Cologne. Although, should Na’Vi be able to muster a performance from s1mple, Na’Vi shouldn’t be counted out.
What do you think of the upcoming Cologne tournament? Tell us in the comments below!