Top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams Astralis and Gambit Gaming will be sitting out of ESL’s third Cologne, Germany event.
ESL confirmed the 16 teams that will attend the event at Lanxess Arena from July 7 to 9 earlier today.
Astralis declined their direct invite in April because of “a very tight schedule” and their “ambition to defend the Major title…and win back to back majors.” The Danes likely wanted to conserve their energy and strategies for the Krakow Major, which will take place the following week.
Gambit, on the other hand, declined their qualifier invite in May, saying it wasn’t possible for them to compete “due to an intense schedule.” Had they been given a direct invite, it could’ve been a different story for the popular CIS region team.
Teams that received invites include SK Gaming, Virtus Pro, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, G2 Esports, North, Cloud9, Immortals, mousesports, and OpTic Gaming. ESL spread out the 12 team invites over the past couple of months, with organizations verifying their participation. This left four team slots open through qualification. Surprisingly, Team Liquid did not receive an invite, despite being last year’s runner-up.
Heroic and Space Soldiers edged out notable teams, such as Team EnVyUs, GODSENT, BIG, and FlipSid3 Tactics, in the European qualifier. Team Liquid survived the North American qualifier by knocking down CLG, while TyLoo took the final spot in the Chinese qualifier.
The Brazilians of SK are hoping to repeat history with a second title in Cologne, even though the event doesn’t have Major status. A championship win in Cologne would be the third trophy of the year for them.
Teams will have to stay physically and mentally strong after ESL Cologne if they want to be contenders at the Krakow Major.