The Cathedral of CSGO: ESL One Cologne Group A Preview

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If there is one tournament that is near synonymous with Counter-Strike Global Offensive, it is ESL One Cologne. The 2019 edition of the tournament will see all the top teams in attendance in Germany. Featuring a $300,000 prize pool, the tournament will have sixteen teams competing for the glory at the ‘The Cathedral of Counter-Strike’. 

Nearly 18,000 fans will be present at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne cheering for their favourite teams. The Lanxess Arena will be full to the brim with Counter-Strike fans. This tournament assumes more significance due to the lack of quality top tier tournaments in CS: GO. We have had a few Blast Pro Series events, but the tournament’s format and their team-list do not inspire a lot of competitive gameplay. 

After the ESL Pro League LAN Finals, ESL One Cologne will help teams cement their position in CS: GO rankings. The sixteen teams are divided into two groups: Group A and Group B. Let’s take a look at the teams from Group A in this article. 

Team Liquid

Team Liquid Group Hug
Team Liquid Group Hug, can they retain their dominance at Cologne 2019? Image Credit: ESL Gaming

The winners of ESL Pro League Season 9 LAN Finals are also the best team in the world. Their position at the top of the Counter-Strike rankings will remain untouched irrespective of their performance in this game. However, we expect Team Liquid to put up a very strong performance at ESL One Cologne 2019. 

The tournament has a rich history in the CS: GO esports scene and winning the Cathedral of Counter-Strike has its own charm. The team has never been able to win at Cologne, mostly cause they were not at their very best. With Astralis not at their very best, Team Liquid is the favourites to win ESL One Cologne 2019. 

However, Team Liquid has not looked clean and dominant as Astralis of 2018. The team barely made it past G2 Esports in the Grand Finals of ESL Pro League. The team does have its weaknesses and as such, it might not be totally surprising to see them not reach the Grand Finals at Cologne 2019. 

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Natus Vincere

The Natus Vincere CSGO Squad on-stage
Na’Vi could be the dark horse at ESL One Cologne. Image Credit: HLTV

Natus Vincere is a team that has potential, but the team has been unable to convert their potential to a successful victory. They have the best player in the world, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev; and he can turn the tide in a match just cause of his individual skill. And yet, Natus Vincere still languishes outside of the Top 5 in HLTV rankings

For Na’Vi to rise to the top and have a good showing at the Berlin Major, ESL One Cologne will be a crucial step forward. They have a very tough path to the Playoffs if they are to make it to the Playoffs. Their first match is against Mousesports, but the winner of that match will most likely play against Team Liquid. 

The team has added Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov to their roster towards the end of May 2019. It was a decision at the right moment since it allows the team to have enough time to practice. The biggest problem on Natus Vincere was always the firepower on the roster. While S1mple presents one side of their gameplay, the remaining players ( on the previous roster) were simply not at the same level. Adding Boombi4 to their roster definitely is an upgrade from the previous roster. It provides them with adequate firepower to efficiently execute their strategies. 

The new roster provides Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko with all the elements necessary to push Na’Vi up the rankings. He has the best player in the world as well as Denis “electronic” Sharipov, a player who supplements S1mple’s playstyle. They have been absent from several of the past few tournaments, and hence they are pretty much the dark horse at this event. They have had one month to practice with Boombi4 and that is enough time to find their groove and upset several tournament favourites. 

Mousesports

Mousesports walk-in Photo
Mousesports has shown glimpses of brilliance, but no results.

At a point in history, Mousesports was rightfully called the Giant Killer. The team was a contender for a top spot in CS:GO and they would consistently challenge the top teams. It would not always result in victories for the team but a slight slip-up from any top team would result in a Mouz victory. 

At present, Mousesports is in a deep pit; their results are nowhere near their former selves. Ofcourse, this is a totally different team from their former selves and they now have Finn “karrigan” Andersen as the In-Game Leader. The Danish player is well-known to help raise his teammates to the top tier. What happens next is usually quite different, but right now, Mousesports need his help and leadership to climb the rankings. 

Karrigan on Mousesports.
Can Karrigan lead the young Mousesports roster to glory?

Regardless of their lack of visible results, the International team secured a Top 4 placement at ESL Pro League LAN finals. That tournament had some of the best teams in Counter-Strike and a Top 4 placement is definitely an achievement for Natus Vincere. It is unsure what to expect from Mousesports in this tournament, but a good performance will definitely make them a strong contender in their opponents’ eyes. 

Faze Clan

NEO and Faze Clan at Dreamhack Masters Dallas 2019.
NEO is the IGL for Faze Clan.

Speaking of the team’s that have not realised their potential, Faze Clan is a prime example. The team comprises of some of the biggest names in Counter-Strike and yet, they are never a contender for the Trophy. 

Their latest roster change saw the addition of Filip “NEO” Kubski to their team. NEO has had experience leading a superstar team and enabling their performance in the game. Faze Clan is at a similar level to the Virtus Pro from a few years ago. 

Faze Clan won Blast Pro Series: Miami, but it was quickly followed by several Group stage exits for the team. Their Miami performance was a one-off result and it, by no means, is a reflection of their form. Faze Clan should not be able to win this tournament by any means.  

NRG Esports

The NRG CSGO Roster
Daps recently played his last tournament with NRG Esports at ESL Pro League

The North American team comprises of a very young roster; one that has captivated the CS:GO scene. They have a lot of firepower on their roster and the addition of Tarik “tarik” Celik only cemented their skill ceiling even further. 

The team saw a further change to their roster and they have now added Peter “Stanislaw” Jarguz to replace Damian “daps” Steele. This will be their first tournament with Stanislaw as their In-Game Leader. While Stanislaw and Daps do not seem to have any bad blood between them, it will be interesting to see how NRG adapt to a new IGL. 

In the new team, Tarik will also have a much more significant say in the regular gameplay. In collaboration with Stanislaw, this team can reach new heights. However, when it comes to leading the team, there is a significant difference between the two players ( Daps and Stanislaw). One does wonder how much practice and coordination the team has developed with Stanislaw. Regardless of this, Stanislaw definitely adds a huge improvement to the team’s raw skill power. 

NRG Esports has clawed its way into the Top 5 of HLTV rankings. All the teams from 2nd place to the 8th place can be interchangeable depending on their performance at ESL One Cologne. NRG is right in the middle of this shuffle and we hope to see the team play at its very best. 

FURIA Esports

Furia CSGO team during ECS Season 7 LAN Finals
FURIA had a great performance at ECS Season 7 LAN Finals. Image Credit: ECS

FURIA recently signed a five-year contract with their roster. It was a controversial decision for all except the players. They believed that their decision is based on past experiences with the organisation and their trust. They trust FURIA not to exploit the agreement to the letter and hence want to continue with the same organisation. Their success in the recent past saw the team receive multiple offers from various other organisations. However, they turned them all down to stick with their team and possibly improve their performance even further. 

The team has been inconsistent in their performances. They reached the Grand finals of ECS Season 7 LAN, where they lost to Vitality. However, their next LAN event saw them lose to GamerLegion in the MocheXL Esports 2019 tournament. FURIA needs to improve its consistency in terms of results and in their firepower. The team has an excellent map pool and that remains their strength as they come into this tournament. They have an excellent read on maps such as Vertigo, Overpass and Nuke. 

Their first match at Cologne is against NRG Esports. This is a match amongst equals, but FURIA might have a small advantage due to the IGL changes on NRG. FURIA needs a decent placement at this tournament to continue their Top 5 ranking in HLTV. 

MVP.Pk

MVP.PK
MVP.Pk Logo

By far the weakest team in Group A, MVP.Pk has their first match of the Group stage against Team Liquid. The first match is against the best team in the world can only be extremely discouraging for the team. However, the Asian roster can learn a lot from the best players in the world. 

MVP.Pk will try their best to extract as much as they can from the tournament. Learning from their opponents to potentially surprising others with off-meta strategies, MVP.Pk will definitely cause a huge upset if they manage even one win. 

Renegades

Renegades On LAN
Gratisfaction of Team Renegades.

Renegades is also another team that can possibly be termed the worst team in Group A. The team is well-known with some really strong individual players. But the lack of results on their part, multiple Group stage exits does not inspire confidence in the team. 

The roster is majorly Australian with Joakim “Jkaem” Myrbostad being the only European player on their team. Renegades are definitely not a contender for the playoffs, especially considering the quality of their opponents in Group A. Their aim will be to reach the playoffs, but can they accomplish this goal? The ESL One Cologne Twitch Channel will provide the answer here

Read our Preview for teams from Group B here.


2 comments

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