ESL One Cologne Groups – My Thoughts
Group A – NiP, Team SoloMid, Renegades, CLG
It’s pretty safe to say that this year hasn’t been anywhere near any other year of CS: GO for NiP in 2015 so far, apart from making the final in Katowice, nothing big won; No real shocking results; nothing special. Then again, all any fan of the game needs to hear is the org name “NiP” and something just clicks in the minds of the Swedish/Finnish team (often referred to as “Nip magic”) allowing them to grind out rounds in sometimes the scrappiest ways possible but because of the pure talent and experience of NiP, if anybody can produce a shock, any result is possible for them.
It was such a great first half of 2015 for the Danes with them seeming to get over their “choking” habit in quarter/semi-finals and truly utilising the fragging potential that the entire team has to offer. Alongside the personal skill TSM bringing in Finn “Karrigan” Anderson in my opinion has been the real driving force behind the success in the early parts of the year for the Danes. Turning then from a very CT oriented team into a team that is both capable of pulling round after round out on both CT and T. Team SoloMid in many people’s eyes the second favourite to take the title in Cologne, just behind Fnatic. If they can come out fighting like they did a couple of months ago where they were repeatedly taking down even the best team in the world, Fnatic, the dream will be alive. If recent form repeats itself then an appearance in the final will be hard to obtain.
The Aussies have managed to win over the hearts of the public (especially me) through their pure passion for the game and skill within the team which has allowed them to even take maps off teams like Fnatic and NiP. A longer bootcamp will be so essential for Renegades as the oceanic region is nowhere near the level of skill and competition that both EU and NA has to offer so valuable practice is a necessity even after attending the IEM event the other week. Everybody has a little place in their hearts for these Australians but getting out of the groups and possible coming up with some shocking results as they have been capable of doing in the past will only make them more passionate; giving them the right mind-set to proceed through the groups, only time will tell.
CLG is a team that has constantly been off and on for the most part of the year even since they decided to part ways with “Ptr”. Replacing the man of the match vs LDLC was to be “JDM64” who from what I’ve seen brings a more passive play to the team. Things haven’t been great for CLG internationally with them doing fairly awful against EU teams apart from that win against Fnatic at the ESL/ESEA Pro League LAN Finals. CLG certainly didn’t get much luck in the draw of the groups of the second major of the year but they have shown, with that win over Fnatic, when needed, CLG can pull out their own version of “NiP Magic”.
Group B – EnVyUs, Luminosity, Team Kinguin, Flipsid3 Tactics
With what people called the “French Shuffle 2.0” EnVyUS will be going to their first major after the introduction of “kennyS” and “Apex” to the team, replacing “Shox” and “Smithzz”. Unfortunately for the Frenchmen the change happen for too close to the major for them to get everything to the standard they see as acceptable. Who knows, they’re still EnVyUs, a team with an unreal amount of individual skill and the ability to pull out plays and save rounds when no other team could. This has even been on show with them taking the title of IEM at gamescom earlier in this week with them being able to convincingly take down TSM on multiple occasions in the final.
The south Americans have come a long way since they were even asking for donations to attend events as the funding in brazil simply wasn’t good enough, but thanks to sponsors and donations from the public they’ve managed to pull off things people never thought would have been possible. For example winning on inferno against TSM at ESL/ESEA Pro League. Throughout all of this Luminosity are yet another outsider team in terms of their regions making a little place in every viewer’s heart. At the same time, they are not only likeable people but also unbelievably individually skilled considering the number of teams they have to compete against and practice again domestically. Hopefully the Brazilians will be able to pull out more impressive results throughout the event.
Possibly the most interesting team that will be attending the major. No other mixed team has had the success of team Kinguin and they’ve hardly been going in comparison to some of these teams that are considered some of the best in the world. Even with the upper hand on Kinguin as 99% of teams have players all from the same nation and therefore communication won’t be a problem. Like many people thought, including myself, the language barrier would have the most effect on the team play despite the amount of experience and skill each and every player brings to the game. After all, it’s a team game. And that involves communication but Kinguin have just got around it and turned themselves into a team that can pull off great results.
Things haven’t been the same recently for the CIS team as “s1mple” who was repeatedly referred to as one of the best players ever in CS:GO when he went through his time of complete “god mode” in his time in F3 left them to make his new team, evolution. Despite losing one of the hottest prospects ever in CS:GO the team hasn’t really been that phased by it with them still managing to qualify with them using a standin often filling in for the team, “davcost”. Even though they lost s1mple, they still have very skilled players like the 1.6 legend “markeloff” and the Russian awper, “worldedit” and the consistent player of the team “Bondik”. With all these players under the leadership of “Blad3” results can still be pulled off.
Group C – Fnatic, Na’Vi, Titan, Team Ebettle
If you follow CS: GO, you know of Fnatic and their dominance of the CS: GO scene throughout 2015. Because of this people consider this lineup to be the best lineup CS: GO has seen. If it was up to me, I would have to agree. If Fnatic are able to pick up this major this would mean that they would have won their 3rd major in CS: GO, more than any other team in CS: GO. There isn’t really much new to be said about Fnatic, everything that has needed to be said has been referenced at some point. The 1 thing we know for sure though is that Fnatic won’t win uncontested. They will be pushed to the very edge, forcing all players in Fnatic to perform at their best. The best part about that as a spectator is that the Counter-Strike that will be played will be the best ever.
Now, before anything. I would love more than anything to see Na’vi take this whole event. Constant improvement from all players truly makes them at least a top 3 team in the world and a team to be feared. With the awping skill of “Guardian” straight away you know that this is a team not to be taken lightly, even when he isn’t on form. In my opinion, the worst part about playing Na’Vi is that now Nuke was taken out of the map pool (Na’vi always instantly banned Nuke for those who didn’t know) there isn’t a map Na’Vi “struggle” on so to say. You would argue cache is not a great map for them, which is reasonable so say. Yet still it isn’t even a map they’re bad at. They may not be the most comfortable on that map, but it’s not like they don’t have a clue what they’re doing. If I was to play against the CIS team, that would be what I most fear playing against them.
Once again, I will admit it. I also love titan now Shox is back under the leadership of probable the greatest In-Game leader of our time, “Ex6tenz”. It will be truly a scary partnership. As I believe I mentioned in a previous article I just feel as Smithzz will benefit greatly thanks to this move back to Titan. It will allow him to be free once again and not be the person always dropping weapons for people, making sure they’re fully equipped. He is too skilled in comparison to the rest of the players in the lineup, you have to prioritise him just below Shox. This has already been displayed with that 3v1 against Ebettle in the offline qualifiers. I think Titan may struggle at this event. I still feel like if you have an IGL like Ex6tenz, you need a lot of time to perfect everything. Watch for the future for this team.
I have never been happier but at the same time so disappointed to see a massive upset in the offline qualifiers. I’m happy because it’s the underdog winning, I’m a fan of that. I like seeing the unexpected happen. At the same time, let’s face it, they’re in a group with Fnatic, Na’vi and Titan. If they don’t get crushed in every map they play I will be massively surprised. However if a team like Dignitas were here instead of Ebettle, that would mean competition. 4 top 10 teams in 1 group would be crazy but instead we get 3 top 10 teams and the 3rd best polish team (possibly). Still, I’m happy to see them do well, so I hope they do something of significance at this event. So I don’t have to think about what it would have been like if Dignitas was there instead.
Group D – Virtus.pro, Mousesports, Cloud9, Immunity
The poles have had a very, interesting year. Winning games so convincingly then getting destroyed by a team that nobody has ever heard of, #NeverBetOnVP. Despite the constant ups and downs VP have still pulled off some very convincing wins in big tournaments. For example winning ESEA with beating Fnatic in the final. We all know they’re more that capable of pulling off very convincing results and even win events here and there. The chemistry of the team must really help after having the same lineup since pretty much the start of CS: GO and bringing back the former 1.6 players of the Frag Executers and ESC lineup, “Kuben” to bring a real former pro’s perspective into the game and reinventing their play.
At the start of the year nobody would have expected that the Germans would be so successful right now, with their run to the top 10 in the world starting with a 4th place finish at ESEA. After that 3 players from the former Penta lineup were brought to the mousesports and now they’re impressing at both LAN and Online events. I think they got the best group they could have got with the constant “choking” VP; Cloud9 that have really shown their worth of recent times and Immunity who lets not lie, they have come last at every international LAN they’ve attended. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mouz were to make it out of the groups and upset a few teams along the way.
As mentioned before, Cloud9 have really shown what they’re made of after the roster changes bringing in “Freakazoid” and the best awper in North America, “Skadoodle”. Finishing in 3 finals in 3 weeks and even managing to take down Fnatic in a best of 3, 2-0 is an unreal result. Teams forgot that North American teams are here to compete and here to play Counter-Strike just as much as every other team that is there attending as well. So far we’ve only seen that Cloud9 are living up to that statement. Hopefully other NA teams follow in their footsteps. I said the same for Mouz and I’ll say it for Cloud9, it really wouldn’t surprise me if some really shocking results occurred including Cloud9.
Well, I don’t really know what to say about this. I know nothing about the team and players. All I know it that they have finished in last place every international play they’ve attended. Never a good sign. I really have nothing to say about them but I hope they take a map to make the traveling worth their time.