Once again, ESL One Cologne has proven itself to be one of the most intriguing and exhilarating tournaments of the entire CS:GO competitive calendar. No city has hosted a Counter-Strike tournament for as long as Cologne, with this year’s edition marking the four consecutive year of its running.
As ever with the passionate CS:GO fans in Germany, ESL One provided some of the best atmosphere we’ve seen anywhere in the world, and high-quality plays by the likes of ZywOo, Stewie2K and S1mple once again proved the competitiveness surrounding the CS:GO community at the moment.
We look back at ESL One Cologne to see who were the event’s winners, losers and where the CS:GO scene sits right now.
Winner: Team Liquid
Despite being firm favourites in most esports betting markets going into the tournament, there were question marks over whether or not Team Liquid, the number one ranked team in the world, would be able to handle the weight of expectation. As Twistzz explained however:
“Last year, we just lived in their [Astralis’] shadow, and that gave us all this drive. We knew we were going to be the best this year, and we are living up to it.”
Astralis’ dramatic fall in the rankings had presented an opportunity to Team Liquid, and they weren’t about to let it slip. Riding on their undeniable skill and the momentum from their previous wins, Team Liquid delivered concise, assured performances all along their route to the final, dispatching of the likes of NRG and NaVi in a calm and professional way. It was a textbook way of winning a major.
While fans might not have gotten to witness the Liquid-Astralis final plenty wanted, the team won plaudits aplenty for their win against the impressive Vitality in the tournament’s finale. One particularly interesting plaudit for Liquid’s Intel Grand Slam win came from NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson who wished the team well going forward.
ESL One adds to their impressive collection of honours this year, joining the iBUYPOWER Masters IV, IEM Sydney, DreamHack Masters Dallas and ESL Pro League Season 9 in their list of titles won so far this season, indicating that Liquid have no intention of slowing down their quest for world domination.
Losers: MiBR and FURIA
A lot of CS:GO fans came into ESL One Cologne excited to see what the emerging talents of MiBR and FURIA could produce at a significant major.
Whether it be for their brand new sponsorship deal with Nike, or their fearless double-takedown of the mighty Astralis at ECS Season 7 Finals, Brazilian side FURIA have been propelled to the front of the Esports world as one of the most hyped rosters around at the moment. This hype and excitement would only inflame the disappointment of their defeats to NaVi and NRG as FURIA were evicted from the tournament.
Similarly to their Brazilian counterparts, MiBR entered ESL One Cologne as one of the newest and most exciting prospects at the major. Their rivalry with FURIA promised to add a new level of spice into the CS:GO scene, but sadly neither side would last long enough in the competition for them to be drawn against each other.
MiBR left ESL One without a single win to their name, looking completely outmatched by Fnatic on Inferno and then going on to lose against BIG in the lower bracket. It was a disappointing end for a team that had promised so much before the tournament.
How Are Things Looking?
Liquid are obviously going to be the happiest of all teams coming out of ESL One. Another title to their name puts some serious distance between themselves and Astralis, who did look pretty good for most of their run throughout ESL, but just fell short when it really mattered.
Vitality were the surprise package of the whole tournament, doing well to dispatch the likes of Fnatic, Heroic, NRG and the big prize of Astralis on their way to a tight final loss against Liquid. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for ZywOo and co. going forward.
For the likes of FURIA and MiBR however, it’s vital that they rediscover some of the excitement and fearlessness that propelled them into the spotlight all those months ago. CS:GO is an unforgiving and harsh community for a team to slip up in, and these two sides in particular cannot afford to have too many more slip ups like ESL was for them.