ESL One Cologne is one of the biggest Counter-Strike events out there. Even though it doesn’t offer as great of a prize purse as some of the other ESL events, it remains a prestigious event. It brings people from all over the world to witness the cathedral of Counter-Strike – the Lanxess Arena. However, this Cologne has hype for one more reason. This is just the second event this year, with such a stacked lineup. It has 13 out of the top 15 teams in the world attending the event. The world has been deprived of such high-level CS for too long. But what are some of the things we can expect heading into ESL One Cologne?
Bounce back or bust
It’s a sad state of affair for the previous best team in the world Astralis. Just four months prior, this was basically an unbeatable roster. There was a time when Astralis disappointed but never failed. One such moment happened in the previous ESL One Cologne when Na’vi won the semi against them. However, without much of a fuss, the Danes would bounce back and secure another event down the line.
This Astralis is different. No longer are they capable of securing back-to-back events, nor winning upcoming tournaments. For example, they had a group stage exit in ECS Season 7 Finals and a quarter-final finish against Team Liquid in ESL Pro League.
They are no longer the Astralis of old. They’ve become weaker because of their ill choice to prioritize BLAST events over other tier one tournaments. Ring rust has come to affect the Danes and if they don’t get a title in Cologne, they’ll continue to linger around the top 5.
Big Hopes for Liquid
Liquid has done it, they have claimed the number one spot after their victory at ESL Pro League Finals. In order to prove the doubters, they’ve won a bo3 against Astralis. Sure, it wasn’t a grand final brawl, but this is now the second time this year when Liquid won a bo3 against Astralis.
Even though Liquid has claimed 4 titles this year, ESL One Cologne is the big one. This is where the majority of top teams are competing, this is where they will have more challenges to face along the way to the grand finals. Their old nemesis Astralis is here and the new challenger ENCE will also make an appearance. Not to mention Vitality, to whom they have losses the grand final in cs_summit 4.
There are teams out there who are capable of securing a win or two over Liquid. But if the North Americans win ESL One Cologne they won’t be just a number one team in the power rankings. They will cement their position as the true number one.
French Counter-Strike resurgence
French Counter-Strike has become very relevant at the end of the first half of 2019. G2 had a 2nd place finish in ESL Pro League and in the last 2 months, Vitality cropped up with victories in 2 decent events: cs_summit 4 and ECS Season 7 Finals.
But this Vitality roster is different in comparison to previous French line-ups or the “super team” assembled in 2017. Vitality is looking structured, which was a quality a lot of the newer French teams lacked. Their individuals are putting in some good numbers, in particular, their star ZywOo, who’s in his prime stardom.
There are still areas in which the French need to work on, as eluded in an interview with ApeX at ECS Season 7. This form of Vitality should scare the top tiers and they must be careful of the Frenchmen.