Photo Credit: ESL
The qualifier for the eight Challenger spots for ESL One Cologne 2016 were decided this weekend at Katowice, Poland. The groups for the major were also announced soon afterwards, and will take place at the ESL studios before moving to the LANXESS arena in Germany. Sixteen teams will play to win the $500,000 first place prize with the total prize pool amounting to $1,000,000.
Legends (Top 8 at Last Major)
LG are currently the reigning champions of the previous major and one of the hottest teams on the scene at the moment. The team roared out of relative obscurity from the Brazil at MLG Aspen and has since achieved the title of best team in the world.
Always contenders, Na’Vi have been around since previous editions of CS:GO and has a star-studded roster full of young talent and veterans. Their style mirrors LG’s and many consider them to be LG’s strongest opponents.
Known as the gatekeeper of the elite, Astralis have always been in the top 5 teams for the past year and show remarkable consistency in making it to the playoffs of tournaments. However, they seem to lack the spark to push them over the top. Unfortunately for them, they will not be able to use their new addition, Kjaerbye, due to the roster change restrictions for the major and will be use gla1ve instead.
Liquid are one of the top teams from North America and made what many consider to be a Cinderella run at the last major to place in the top 4. The team has been plagued by roster issues for the last month, but have settled with once again using star-player s1mple for this event.
Ninjas in Pyjamas:
As one of the most decorated and oldest teams in CS:GO, NiP have a huge fan base to cheer them on. The team fell on hard times a few months back, but have returned to a high performance with the addition of pyth and coach, THREAT.
Just today, it was announced that olofmeister, widely considered the best player in the world would be returning to Fnatic’s starting roster after taking a break due to a wrist injury. With their star player returning, Fnatic sudenly find themselves as one of the favorites for the tournament.
Counter Logic Gaming:
CLG is one of those teams you never expect much from, but always surprises you. They have shown a stunning consistency in LAN placings and always seem to pull through despite their poor online results. They are also one of the North American teams who are most similar to the Europeans in terms of strategies and teamplay.
Similar to Liquid, VP are one of the teams with the worst online results, but excel at LAN events. It is hard to see exactly where this team is as they seem to be a tier-2 team online, but a tier-1 team on LAN.
Challengers (Qualified this weekend at Katowice)
Mouz are the best German team in CS:GO and has one of the best players in the world in, Niko. The team has always been around the top 10 spots, but has not been able to make it far in a major yet.
A few months prior, FaZe went through a massive slumping period despite the wealth of talent on their roster. More recently, they changed out Maikelele for k1oshima and saw immediate success and have returned to form.
Optic could be considered one of the top teams in North America and a potential contender as one of the best teams from the United States/Canada. Their newest player, mixwell, has shown himself to be a strong pickup, with several high impact performances for his team.
With three of the five players from the old Hellraisers team, Gambit are one of the better teams hailing from the Eastern European regions. They, like Liquid and VP have poor online results, but seem to be a different team on LAN.
Once the best team in the world, nV has fallen on hard times despite the skilled players on their team. They’ve seen a slight improvement in form recently and whenever apex has a high-impact game, they look like their former selves.
Dignitas swapped Kjaerbye for cajunb with Astralis a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, this has not affected the team too much as they performed to their abilities in the qualifier and nabbed a spot at ESL Cologne.
FlipSid3 are perhaps the biggest surprise to qualify for the major. Since losing s1mple and bondik, the team has been severely lacking in firepower. Blad3, the ingame leader, is still one of the finest tacticians, and although the team lacks the fragging power, they made up for it in strategy and teamplay.
The revival of shox and Scream has been a pleasure to watch over the last few weeks. Shox was once considered the best player in the world, and dropped off during his time in LDLC and then EnVyUs. However, he and Scream seem to have hit the top level once again as they dominate the scoreboard and give viewers many highlight clips.
Group A (Liquid, VP, mouz, nV)
What stands out immediately in this group is that all of these teams are notoriously inconsistent. One day they will play like the best teams in the world, and on another, they will look completely clueless. Expect high, explosive games with the teams that show up taking the victory in this group.
Group B (LG, Fnatic, FaZe, G2)
This group is rightly named as the Group of Death by fans and predictors. These teams got the short end of the stick in the group draw and now two of them will be eliminated in the group stages. All of these teams could have potentially made it to the top 8 in another group, so it is somewhat unfortunate that they were pitted head-to-head so early on.
Group C (Astralis, CLG, Gambit, Dignitas)
Astralis stand out in this group as they heavy favorites to make it out in first place. As for second, any of the next three teams has a chance. CLG, Gambit, and Dignitas should be thanking their lucky stars that they were not placed into a much harder group.
Group D (Na’Vi, NiP, Optic, FlipSid3)
This group is much easier to predict as Na’Vi and NiP stand out as the clear favorites to move on to the playoffs. Currently, the two teams are ranked 2nd and 3rd on HLTV’s rankings while Optic and FlipSid3 are not even in the top 10.
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