ESL One Cologne 2015 preview-Group A
This is part one of the ESL One Cologne preview, featuring an analysis of group A.
ESL One Cologne 2015 will take place in 20-23 August in Cologne, Germany. Because of the number of participating teams(16), the prize pool(250,000$) and the support of Valve through stickers this event is considered one of the biggest and most prestigious events in CS:GO, a major.
The groups for the event look like this:
While the first round of the group stage will be a best-of-one, double-elimination group stage, however, at the end of day one, all groups will be played out in the Upper Bracket, and once the four top teams in each group will advance straight to the quarterfinals, the other teams will be redrawn in two groups as they will fight for the remaining four spots. Because of this change in the format the teams will try to top their group and go straight into the quarterfinals, else they risk being drawn into a much harder group later.
Group A: NIP, TSM, Renegades, CLG
Expected results: TSM tops the group, while NiP, RNG and CLG go to the lower bracket.
Going into this event, TSM has undeniably been one of the best teams in the world. They have taken part in eight tournaments between ESL Katowice and Cologne, and they’ve finished top4 in 7 of them, won four and ended second place in two. Their dominance is even more impressive, considering they have beaten Fnatic, the best team in the world, in two best-of-five series in the final. Their players have improved alot since the „chokenitas” days, especially the likes of Device, Xyp9x and CajunB. They are definitely one of the best teams in terms of raw skill all across the board, and the addition of Karrigan as their IGL strenghtened their T-sides considerably.
One big advantage of TSM against the other teams in this group is their map pool: they are favorites(over 55% chance to win) on most maps against all of these teams, as their large map pool allows them to pick and perform really well on maps like Overpass and Cobble, while also being one of the best teams on the likes of Mirage or Inferno.
Lately, TSM has dropped off a bit, as they failed to get past the group stage of APM, after losing to both E-Frag and Hellraisers in BO3 series, and they also got smashed by Envy in the finals of IEM. However, while there losses are pretty bad, I wouldn’t read too much into them, as they got upset at APM because of some incredible counter-strike (in terms of skill) from both HR and E-Frag, while at IEM they had to face a new Envy that had never played a lan before, so there was not much info they had on how this new team operates. Karrigan even admitted that after being on top of the leaderboard for such a long time, the only way they can improve is by losing to some teams, so they can find the areas in which they did wrong and fix them.
Oh man, the majors group blessing might have ended for them, as they now have to beat TSM in order to instantly go into the quarterfinals.
Don’t get me wrong, NiP is definitely the second best team in this group, but we haven’t actually seen that much of them lately, at all. They have been spiraling continuously since the MLG-X Aspen days, as they’ve fallen from a top3-top4 team into a team that is not even in the top 5. Their latest result is a dissapointing quarterfinals loss against a flipside with Hiko as a stand-in, and they haven’t been really active ever since. They have a bunch of problems that all add up: their players are way past their prime, so they dont have enough raw skill in the team; their strats, the default style of play, is no longer optimal in the current meta and their map pool is not very good, as they basically have no map in which they are definitely top 3 on it, so they can use it to get an edge over TSM. The only thing they have going for them, quite frankly, is the fact that they have been incative lately, and i think not many teams will put many hours into studying them. I don’t know wheter they prepared a lot during this time of inactivity or not, but I really hope so, because unless they can get at least a semifinal result at this major i simply can not see them ever winning a relatively stacked event anymore, and roster changes might(and should) happen.
Life has been good for the ex-Vox Eminor team. They found a better organisation to support them, meaning they could attend more events this time around. They finished top8 at ESWC, losing to Na’Vi 2-0 pretty convincingly, and they managed to finish 3rd at IEM Gamescom. While their results look good on paper, in reality they have not really been that „hot”, as their ESWC victories are against the likes of CLG and Bravado, while they got stomped by both Na’Vi and Envy at the same tournament. At IEM their Envy-Renagades alliance went well, as they finished over the likes of Mousesports, but in terms of actual games they were not impressive: they god crused 16-2 by Mouse on Dust2, 16-6 by TSM on Mirage and 16-4 on Dust 2, while only managing to win against SK twice, and losing once in very close series. In reality, their wins are not that impressive for a team that wants to break into the top10, and Cologne might be a chance to prove otherwise, but i can hardly see them beating the likes of TSM, or even Nip, unless they can get a map like Cache, on which they are relatively decent on.
Domestically, CLG has proven that they are the second best team in North-America, after Cloud9, after consistently beating the likes of Liquid, Tempo-storm and Luminosity Gaming. At the international events, however, they have been in the bottom side of most of them. Their most notable results are upsets against Fnatic on mirage at ESL ESEA and a bunch of smaller wins against lesser opponents. After all, being the second best team in NA doesn’t mean much if there is only one team in that region that can have an impact on the international scene. They lack the skill,synergy, map pool and experience to stand toe-to-toe against the better teams in Europe. I feel like the format change at this major puts the nail in the coffin for them, as they rely on getting an upset win against their opponents, like they did against Fnatic in BO1’s; because now, even if they do upset TSM, they still have to beat Nip, which I don’t think is impossible, but it is very unlikely , depending on how NiP play. Against Renegades i think they have a chance, but unless both CLG and RNG get upsets over TSM and Nip, so they can face eachother later into the group stage, none of those two will top their group, and if CLG go to the lower bracket team draw they are pretty much doomed, as they would have to win a lot more BO1’s against better opponents that they would have needed at the previous majors.
Overall, i dont expect any amazing upsets in this group, if all of these teams perform at their usual level, with NiP being the only „wildcard” in the group: if they really prepared in all of this time of inactivity they might surprise TSM and get the upset they need, else they would have to fight in the lower bracket group draw.