ESL Cologne Begins Today

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Photo Credit: ESL

Another four months has passed and it’s time for Valve’s next major, this time taking place in Germany, Cologne. Sixteen of the world’s top teams with the likes of Fnatic, G2, SK Gaming, and more, battle it out to take the title of the best team in the world for the next four months. Like the previous major, this one will have a $1 million prize pool with the top team grabbing a $500,000 check as part of their reward. The top 8 teams also get to retain the “Legends” status that allows them direct entry into the next major without having to go through the lengthy qualification process that other teams would need to.

Group A: Astralis, CLG, Gambit, dignitas

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Photo Credit: Liquipedia

Astralis: Widely considered as the gate to the top echelons of CS:GO, Astralis has been consistently one of the top teams, but never quite having what it takes to be the best. The team recently made a significant roster change by removing cajunb for Kjaerbye. As a result, Kjaerbye was not allowed to play in this major and Astralis will be using gla1ve as a stand-in.

CLG: CLG also went through a significant roster change when star player jdm was swapped over to Team Liquid with koosta coming over from Liquid as a trade. The team has yet to find a fifth player and are using coach, pita, as a stand-in. While most people’s expectations are low for this team, they have shown in the past that they have what it takes to surprise better teams.

Gambit: The CIS squad are one of the teams that performs well at LAN events while faring worse during online tournaments. Their roster is studded with old veterans such as Dosia and AdreN while also featuring newer players such as spaze.

Dignitas: Dignitas acquired cajunb from Astralis while losing Kjaerbye. It’s been a while since the team was in the red hot form of their summer 2015 selves, but the firepower on the team remains just as potent as before and they remain a dangerous contender in this group.

Group B: Na’Vi, NiP, OpTic, FlipSid3

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Photo Credit: Liquipedia

Na’Vi: Na’Vi have been one of the world’s best teams for the past few years. After swapping starix for flamie, the team has surged through the ranks and shown signs of their 1.6 team. With Guardian coming back from his wrist injury, Na’Vi seek to continue their consistent high finishes in tournaments.

NiP: The Ninjas have seen ups and downs during their CS:GO careers. Once they were the best team in the world and at another point, they were barely hanging in the top ten. The team has kept their core four players for a long time, but have been searching for a replacement for Flifflaren ever since his retirement. With their newest addition, pyth, NiP has once again looked like one of the world’s top teams.

OpTic: Although NA CS is constantly the brunt of jokes from and constantly compared to their European counterparts, OpTic has generally performed well in international tournaments. During their last one, they managed to take down Astralis in a stunning upset victory.

Flipsid3: The strength of Flipsid3 comes from their strategic approach to the game rather than their firepower. Blad3 is considered one of the best ingame leaders in the game and has made his team better than the sum of their parts. A lot of Flipsid3’s fate will come down to whether or not Shara will perform at the major.

Group C: Liquid, Virtus.pro, mousesports, EnVyUs

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Photo Credit: EnVyUs

Liquid: Hiko’s goal in CS:GO was to build a North American team capable of being first in the major. His mission has taken him over one year to complete with this current lineup being one of the strongest North America has to offer. The recent trade of jdm from CLG completed the team and with s1mple also playing with them for the last time, this team has a lot of talent to prove that North America can compete with Europe.

Virtus.pro: VP are similar to Gambit in the sense that they have horrible online results while always performing better at LAN events. It is hard to say exactly where VP are on the ranking scale as they have proven to be one of the most inconsistent teams. The team has kept one of the longest standing lineups ever despite their roller coaster performances and will be looking to prove that what has worked in the past will continue to work.

Mousesports: The Germans have also had their own up at down ride on the world rankings. Sometimes the team seems like one of the world’s best while at others, they completely collapse. Niko can arguably be called one of the best players in the world, but the team has not had many good results in the past few months.

EnVyUs: The super team of the French was built about 6 months ago when kennyS and Apex joined nV from Titan and formed a star French team. At first, they performed up to expectations, and even grabbed a victory at a major, but since then, they have looked lost as their performance crashed to rock bottom. Recently, they have seen a slight improvement, and they always remain a dangerous team to go up against.

Group D: SK, fnatic, FaZe, G2

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Photo Credit: SK Gaming

SK: Currently the best team in the world, SK have consistently placed high in tournaments and have shown innovation in every area of the game. Their group has some of the strongest teams in the tournament, but they are expected to make the semifinals at the least.

Fnatic: The return of olofmeister also brought back the hopes of Fnatic of winning this major. Before olofmeister was forced onto the sidelines due to a wrist injury, Fnatic were the kings of CS:GO. With pronax and then flusha, they won tournament after tournament and were virtually untouchable for a year or so. Their games at ELEAGUE were shaky, but they managed to top their group anyways, so whether or not they can continue their dominant 2015 run remains to be seen.

FaZe: FaZe lost to Fnatic at ELEAGUE, but have been steadily climbing the rankings since the addition of k1oshima. All of the players on FaZe have great aim, but their loose, pug style of playing has harmed them in the past. Their showing will depend a lot on their star player rain.

G2: SK have been winning many events, but their only true competition in the past few months has been G2. At ECS, G2 topped off the Brazilians, 2-0, to take the victory there, and G2 has defeated them in several best-of-ones too. Scream and shox have looked superb over the last few tournaments, with each player delivering the games their team needed.


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