ESL One Cologne 2019: The Group B Teams Preview

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The ESL One Cologne is called the Cathedral of Counter-Strike. It features the best Counter-strike teams in action and is rightfully called an unofficial major this year. The tournament takes place in the iconic Lanxess Arena and features a seating capacity of 18000 people. 

This year’s edition will have a prize pool of $300,000 and have sixteen teams in attendance. Each team will want to reach the Playoffs, where the tournament can take any direction. As of right now, Team Liquid is the best team in the world according to HLTV rankings. But if their performance at the ESL Pro league LAN Finals showed us anything, they are vulnerable. 

ESL One Cologne assumes significance in this year since the year has been riddled with multiple Blast Pro Series events. The nature and format of the Blast Pro Series events relegate them to a less serious event. It does not feature the same level of competition and gameplay as events such as ESL One Cologne. 

The sixteen teams are divided into two groups of eight teams each. We have already covered Group A of ESL One Cologne 2019. Let us now check out Group B. 

Group B

Astralis

Glaive and co.
Astralis has definitely fallen from their peak performance of 2018. Image Credit: Blast Pro Series

Astralis dominated the entirety of 2018 with their impeccable playstyle and high skill ceiling. The team was undoubtedly the best team in the world. Team Liquid was the only one who could possibly challenge Astralis last year, and even then Team liquid would consistently falter. 

In 2019, however, Astralis has been rather selective in their tournament appearances. There has been a trend to their participation in Major tournaments. Most of their appearances have been at Blast Pro series events. Regardless of the results, Astralis was never really considered in the same light as 2018. The team was unable to maintain the same level of performance. When they lost to Team Liquid in a few matches, and the absence of the team from several key tournaments, saw their rankings drop dramatically. 

Astralis still remains a favourite at this event, although they are no longer untouchable. They can either make it to the Grand finals or ( more possibly ) they will bow out early in the Playoffs. Their route to the playoffs does seem easy, but one cannot count out teams such as Vitality and MiBr. 

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Made in Brazil

Fallen and Coldzera Made in Brazil
Fallen and Coldzera of Team MIBr.

The Made in Brazil roster recently saw a change when they brought in Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles to replace João “felps” Vasconcellos. The roster change was more out of necessity rather than a desire to improve. The MiBr roster has made multiple changes over the course of the past two months. However, no matter their attempts at ensuring success, the team has been unable to perform at the same tier as before. 

MiBr is a roster whose potential possibly exceeds that of teams such as Astralis and Team Liquid. However, having a roster which has potential is not the same as producing results. Made in Brazil will need multiple players to find form. Right now, players such as Marcelo “coldzera” David and Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo are nowhere near their peak performance. The addition of ilton “zews” Prado provided some semblance of a strong performance from the past. 

However, with the new roster, it is enough time for MiBr to put up strong performances. They will definitely look at their gameplay with a new look, a rejuvenated performance which can help improve their performance at Berlin. 

Fnatic

Fnatic can become a strong team if their veterans start hitting their shots.
Fnatic has been very inconsistent in their 2019 results. Image Courtesy: HLTV

Fnatic is a team that has been inconsistent in their results. The team secured a Grand final spot at IEM Sydney 2019 as well as StarSeries & I-League Season 7. They lost to Team Liquid at IEM Sydney 2019 while they lost to Natus Vincere at Starseries. 

The team definitely has the potential to produce strong results. However, their improved perforamnce in some tournaments came off their ability to surprise their opponents. The team’s performance is not reminiscent of their peak performance. Right now, the Swedish roster puts up strong performances when the veterans on the roster live up to their expectations. The team has players such as Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson and Jesper “JW” Wecksell. These players have performed well in spurts in 2019. However, they are inconsistent in their performances and that bears a direct relation to the team’s performances. 

However, post those two tournaments, Fnatic has mostly fielded Group stage exits for the team. They had a Group stage exit at ESL Pro League, ECS Season 7 as well as Dreamhack Masters Dallas 2019. 

Team Vitality

Team Vitality
Vitality remains a strong team and a surprise performance in the CSGO Scene. Image Credit: Beyond The Summit

The French team is the most exciting team of 2019. Featuring the very young Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut on their team, Vitality has been able to develop a structure around their star player. While Zywoo is the focus of their gameplay, the team’s veterans such as Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt and Dan “apEX” Madesclaire have established a structure around this player. 

Zywoo’s first aim accuracy is very high and he remains a very strong player. His versatility with various weapons allows him to become a very strong player. He can play exceptionally well with the rifle as well as the AWP. At times, Vitality uses him as the entry fragger, but for the most part, they create the space required for him to flourish. Vitality already has a set of entry fraggers, all of whom can create the space for Zywoo. When Zywoo is on the rifle, he can trade frags very easily. However, when he has the AWP; he can take up aggressive positions to counter any rotations from the enemy.

All eyes will be on Team Vitality as they prepare for ESL one Cologne. The team were the winners at ECS Season 7 LAN Finals, cs_summit 4 as well as the Charleroi Esports 2019. 

Ninjas in Pyjamas

The Ninjas in Pyjamas ( Get_Right, Lekro and Pita)
This will be Get_Right’s last event as a player. Image Courtesy: HLTV

This tournament is a momentous occasion for the Swedish roster. The Ninjas in Pyjamas will play with Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund for the last time at ESL One Cologne 2019. One of the best players in the world, Get_Right will be retiring as a player post this tournament. 

However, the Ninjas in Pyjamas is a team that relies on the firepower of its players. Unfortunately for them, the players definitely lack firepower in their current form. Most importantly, Get_Right and F0rest need to step up in order to produce strong results for the team. 

This is a momentous occasion for the Swedish roster, a farewell for Get_Right. For NIP to move to the Playoffs, they will have to ensure a decent performance by Get_Right and Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg. It is easier said than done. 

Heroic

Adam "friberg" Friberg
Adam “friberg” Friberg of Team heroic. Image Credit: HLTV

Heroic is a Danish roster with Adam “friberg” Friberg as the sole Swedish player on the roster. The team recently underwent a roster change when Asger “AcilioN” Larsen decided to leave the team after his contract expired. Replacing him on the team was Stavn, a player who has played for teams such as Fragsters in the past. 

Heroic is not really a weak team, they have secured victories over teams such as Windigo, Optic and Avangar. The Danish team relies on strong CT sides, but they remain vulnerable to the occasional force-buy from their opponents. 

Heroic does not stand a chance to reach the Playoffs at the tournament. Most likely, they will fall flat in the Group stage itself. However, they have the potential to defeat a few teams at the event. They are a relatively new team and we don’t know how strong they look with Stavn on their roster. This tournament will be a stepping stone for the core roster. 

Peacermaker leaves Heroic Announcement
Peacemaker Leaves Heroic. Image Credit: Heroic

Edit: Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu is no longer associated with the team as he has parted ways with the team. This news comes just one day before the start of ESL One Cologne 2019.

ENCE

Allu, Aerial and co of ENCE Gaming
The Finnish team, ENCE, is one of the stronger teams in Group B at Cologne. Image Courtesy: ESL Gaming

The Grand Finalists of the ESL One Katowice Major will compete at Cologne and they remain potential for the top spot. ENCE’s rise to the top of the scene has been a notable story. The Finnish team comprises a bunch of young players along with the guidance and experience of Allu. Aleksi “allu” Jalli has the experience of playing on several top tier teams such as NIP, Faze Clan amongst others. In terms of skill, he has already displayed that he can stand up to the very best in the business. 

The Finnish team’s success can be largely attributed to Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, their In-Game leader. He has displayed a sense of leadership both within the server as well as off it. In their Youtube videos, ENCE have been able to capture these moments with the team’s chemistry and coordination in full display. 

The Finnish team remains near the top of the scene. They were the Grand finalists at Dreamhack Masters Dallas 2019. Prior to that tournament, they were able to reach the Top 4 at cs_summit 4. In addition to this, ENCE were also the winners at Blast Pro Series Madrid 2019. 

BIG 

Gob B of Berlin Interational Gaming
Can Fatih “gob b” Dayik surprise everyone with BIG’s performance at ESL One Cologne?

The Local representation at Cologne will be BIG Gaming. Berlin International Gaming ( BIG ) as the name goes has definitely fallen off their peak. They let go of Smooya while adding Xantares to their team. It was a historic moment for the team since they had a pretty successful run with Smooya on their team. 

Regardless of this change, BIG does not seem to have any chances of reaching the playoffs at ESL One Cologne. Sure, they will receive the fan support at the event since they are the local representation. 

Final Thoughts

ESL One Cologne 2019 will feature sixteen of the best CS: GO teams in action. It is nearly a Major with the quality of participants, its format and the prize money of the event. You can read our preview for Group A here. ESL One Cologne starts on 2nd July 2019 and all the matches will be streamed on Twitch here


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