A week from today marks the start of the ESL One Cologne Main Qualifier. Held in ESL’s studios in Katowice, 16 teams will battle it out for the eight places left in the Cologne Major. Out of these 16, some teams must progress to the Cologne Major for varying reasons other than competing in the tournament. I will explore the situation of the six teams I feel have the most to lose should they fail to qualify.
The primarily French line-up have shown a complete revitalisation to their side recently, something I have covered in another article. With a best-of-five series against Luminosity Gaming (LG) that G2 almost won at the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals being the start of G2’s epic rise to the pinnacle of Counterstrike, G2 need to move on to the Major to solidify their position as one of the top teams in the world right now. Without the platform of a Major Tournament to showcase some of their exquisite form, their current hype and recent results could mean nothing when not shown offline against the best teams in the scene.
A lot can change in a week, but G2 currently look in the right form to qualify for the Cologne Major. With the team being undefeated in four ELEAGUE games on Tuesday night, two of which being against Swedish giants NiP, the team approach the Cologne qualifiers in great shape. Their star player, Richard “shox” Papillon”, displayed a perfect game against NiP on Tuesday, ending the game on Dust II with an average damage output of 125 per round. This staggering figure shows the form G2 are in, shox in particular, making it seem nearly impossible for them not to pick up three wins from their five games, the format in which the qualifier will be played.
The all-star line-up of FaZe contains too much individual talent to not go to the Cologne Major. With heavy hitters such as Håvard “rain” Nygaard, Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey and Philip “aizy” Aistrup on the team, it would be a travesty to FaZe should the team not qualify. With decent online results the only thing the lineup has had to boast about recently, qualification to the Major is a must for the team to still be considered a strong line-up.
When playing under the G2 Esports banner in the Cluj-Napoca Major, three of the five current players for FaZe managed to progress to the semi-finals of the tournament. In this matchup they almost beat eventual winners Team EnVyUs, and showed that the team could be competitive against the best. Since then they’ve arguably increased the firepower on the team, replacing Mikail “Maikelele” Bill and Dennis “dennis” Edman with aizy and kioShiMa. FaZe need to make this Major to keep their name mentioned with the big teams.
Mousesports, home of one of, if not, the best Counterstrike player in the world right now, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, approach the Major qualifier in a similar position as FaZe. With online results their only results since Dreamhack Masters Malmö, in which they topped their challenging group, Mousesports need to qualify to the Major to keep themselves one of the better Tier 2 teams. With star player NiKo often being highlighted for being in a team beneath his skill level by the community, failure to qualify for the Major would be tragic for the team.
The prospect of one of the top players in the world, NiKo, not playing in a Major that features 16 teams would for sure have the community in uproar. The 19 year old prodigy would undoubtedly be encouraged by the community to move teams, drastically reducing the firepower of Mousesports. For both their reputation and for the sake of NiKo, Mousesports must progress in the Cologne qualifiers.
4. Team EnVyUs
The team with possibly the most to lose should they not qualify for the Cologne Major is Team EnVyUs. Considered by most people in the scene to be one of the best teams in the world in late 2015, EnVyUs have talent in abundance, too much talent to miss a Major. Currently Team EnVyUs are regarded as being in a slump (where they are going through a stint of performing poorly compared to their usual standard) but failure to make the top eight next week could discredit their talent entirely. To prevent the community from seeing them as a Tier 2 team instead of a slumping Tier 1 team, the French must perform in the qualifiers.
EnVyUs find themselves in the qualifying stages for the Cologne Major due to their dreadful performance at MLG Columbus. Losses to both Counter Logic Gaming and Gambit prevented the French side from gaining legend status, which grants automatic qualification for the next Major tournament. Considering that the Major before Columbus, held in Cluj-Napoca, was won by EnVyUs, the situation they are in currently is staggering. Qualification for Cologne is needed by EnVyUs to keep their status as one of the ten best teams in the world.
The North American side, who are frequently dubbed the best team in their region, lost both of their games at MLG Columbus, causing them to exit the tournament in the group stages. Two North American teams in Columbus, Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid, performed in opposite fashion to Cloud9, both securing legend status. To keep the pursuit of being the best team in America going, Cloud9 need to qualify for the Major and challenge their regional comrades.
Cloud9 showed up when competing in season 1 of ELEAGUE last week, securing second seed in their group and picking up more wins than losses. In a very contested series against the reigning Major champions Luminosity Gaming, Cloud9 managed to take Luminosity’s pick of Mirage and almost winning Cobblestone in overtime. The televised final displayed Cloud9 looking strong, and their much needed qualification next week seems likely.
The Danish side took a massive blow to their team on May 19, when they lost star player Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye. The young Dane was the key to Dignitas’ recent success, helping them to win the European Minor tournament which booked them a place at the qualifiers next week. Throughout this tournament, Dignitas didn’t lose a single game. Qualifying for the upcoming Major tournament is paramount for the Danish side to send the message that their line-up change of taking René “cajunb” Borg in exchange for Kjaerbye has not affected their ability to challenge the most skilled teams in the world.
Dignitas were noticeably missing from the talented list of teams at MLG Columbus. This is because they failed to qualify at the Main Qualifier similar to the tournament taking place a week today. Losses to both Renegades and the previously mentioned Cloud9 forced Dignitas out of the competition in the groups, despite them being one of the more favoured teams to qualify. It’s hard to see them doing so again in Katowice on Thursday though, with the skilled cajunb being a suitable replacement for Kjaerbye, who should be able to contribute to Dignitas making it to the Cologne Major and keeping their status.
With high stakes, talented line-ups and plenty of stories to follow, the ESL One Cologne Main Qualifier is set to be a theatre for emotional matches and great Counter-Strike.
Photo credits: ESL