In the heart of Germany
ESL One Cologne is one of the biggest and most prestigious tournaments of the year. Together with twelve other events, the tournament is part of the Intel Grand Slam Season 3, which should culminate in the Major in Rio at the end of 2020. Whether and when the mega event will take place is still uncertain. With a prize money of 2 million USD, it will be the biggest in the history of Counter Strike.
The last edition of ESL ONE Cologne was divided into four divisions. Alongside the European region there were tournaments in North America, Asia and Oceania. So in the end there were four teams which could crown themselves this year's Cologne Champion.
Winner and tournament MVP
The winner of the European edition, which was the biggest tournament in terms of prize money and participating teams, was the surprise team Heroic. The Danes secured the victory of the tournament in a dominant way, and could convince more and more in the last weeks.
The group stage held some big surprises. BIG Clan was eliminated after losing their first two games. After a weak performance and a 0:2 against Sprout they lost in the first round of the lower bracket against NiP with 2:1 and were out of the tournament.
The second title candidate which failed early was mousesports. The international lineup and the German organization took their leave like BIG after only two games and announced a lineup change right after the tournament. Main Awp woxic was replaced by Lithuanian Bymas and Coach Rejin was temporarily suspended by the organization after the bug scandal.
The Lower Brackets didn't end well for greats like fnatic, FaZe and Natus Vincere either. All three of the aforementioned had to settle for 9th-12th place and failed to make it to the finals. FaZe also announced a lineup change with Kjaerbye as the new fifth as a reaction to the recent results.
Alongside favorites like Vitality, G2 and Astralis, Sprout, Complexity and OG surprisingly qualified for the playoffs. After the sensational run of the German players of Sprout, they had to admit defeat against Vitality with 2:0 clearly. G2, Vitality, Heroic and NiP qualified for the semi-finals. While the French players won against NiP without any problems, the duel between G2 and Heroic was very exciting. After overtimes in the first two maps, the Danes finally managed to qualify for the final on Mirage with a score of 16:7.
Surprises and disappointments
Despite the steep rise of Heroic in recent weeks, the clear 3-0 victory in the final with Vitality is probably the biggest surprise of the tournament. However, Sprout and OG also deserve special mention, both of whom managed to prevail in seemingly unfeasible matches against absolute top teams and rewarded themselves with a place in the playoffs.
The big disappointments are clearly BIG, NAVI and FaZe. BIG, who were considered favorites to win the title, were already out after two weak performances before the playoffs.
Performance of the individual teams
- BIG: Title favorite, disappointing, out in the group stage
- Vitality: sovereign, final participation, nervous flutter
- NAVI: Glimmer of hope, clear elimination
- G2: Good performances, narrow semi-final defeat
- Complexity: Strong group stage, no chance against Heroic
- fnatic: not competitive at the moment
- FaZe: Eliminated against the two later finalists
- Heroic: Outstanding, confident, title win
- OG: Comparably easy seeding, reaching the playoffs.
- NiP: From Lower Brackets to Playoffs. Knocked BIG out of tournament
- mousesports: The gap to the world's top teams is getting bigger and bigger
- MIBR: 0:2 - out
- Astralis: Recent lineup changes, playoffs as minimum goal achieved
- MAD Lions: 2:0 against mouz, but all in all not enough
- Sprout: big surprise, great performance
- Heretics: without a chance